Hotels in Italy, Part 3...A Treasure In Florence
Establishment: The Westin Excelsior
Published: July 1, 2010
Photos By: Robin Roth
Story By: Robin Roth
Editor: Mark Lewis

Hotels in Italy part 3…

 

The Westin Excelsior

A Treasure in Florence...

 

Story and Photos by: Robin Roth

                                   

In my opinion, the historic Westin Excelsior is without a doubt the finest hotel in the city of Florence. I felt its majestic past and celebrated legacy as I entered through the hotels revolving doors leading into its stunning entrance. Decorated with terracotta, frescoes, marble, and precious woods the entrance alone is quite impressive.

 

The Excelsior presents an ambiance and aura of class, elegance, and privilege. I was immediately taken back as I was greeted with such kindness and respect. The staff was so welcoming, gracious, and eager to please my every wish. Boasting its perfect location in Florence, it dominates the Piazza Ognissanti which is surrounded by shops and boutiques dating back to the Renaissance times.

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All of the 156 luxurious bedrooms and 16 spectacularly lavish suites at the Westin Excelsior are warm, chic, and inviting. As I noticed, they have all been authentically and meticulously restored and remodeled in the sophisticated Florentine style. The rooms have been designed to combine beauty and lavish, modern comforts while keeping true to its traditional Italian style. All of the rooms I toured were elegant and furnished with the finest materials, hosieries, drapes, and inlaid Italian marble.

 

I was given the once in a lifetime opportunity to stay in the ultimate jewel of the Excelsior. The mega, prestigious, and ultra, opulent Belvedere Suite, is nothing short of spectacular. This suite is highly sought after, which after enjoying it first hand, it was easy to comprehend why. I was wondering why the gentleman who guided me to my suite was smiling the whole way there. Upon first glance, I completely understood the meaning behind his smile. Holding back a hearty gasp, keeping a phony nonchalant demeanor (as a true professional journalist should), I entered this paradise suite. I was truly taken back by its beauty, extravagance, and enormous size of the room. Decorated with rich, warm fabrics, and appointed in the style of Florence, everything including the bed and linens were virtually perfect.

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Still smiling, the kind gentleman (My new hero) walked me outside onto the enormous terrace overlooking the entire city of Florence with its miraculous 360 degree panoramic view. I can die now. I was truly awestruck. I will remember this heavenly scene for the rest of my life.

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This patio can hold at least a hundred people. Perfect for a wedding, I might add. I can’t imagine even the most traveled individual not being swept away by the Belvedere suite. I hated to leave, even to visit the wonderful city of Florence with every important sight just minutes away for the hotel.

 

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Sunrise and sunset, I watched it all from my terrace.

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Moving on, every room has hair-conditioning (which is crucial in the summer in Italy), TV with international channels, safety box, and mini bar. All rooms feature the Westin Heavenly Bed® comfy, all-white beds with high thread-count sheets, plush down comforters, and five queen and king-size pillows on each. Also featured is the Heavenly Bath(SM), custom-designed shower with two heads. Suites are fitted with Bang & Olufsen BeoCenters with TV and CD/DVD player and Multimedia Quadriga system available (high-speed internet connection).

 

For dining, definitely visit the new ORVM, bar and restaurant with a modern, art déco style and ambiance. The bar is a great meeting place which maintains its famous brass block carved by a craftsman at the beginning of the XX Century. The restaurant has a modern ambiance that captures the spirit of the roaring twenties. It has two striking orange chandeliers and handsome leather and wood furniture. For lunch or dinner the menu, conceived by Executive Chef Giuseppe Dalla Rosa, offers delectable dishes of traditional local cuisine. I experienced great food and drinks accompanied by pleasing live music.

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One of the hotels unforgettable highlights for me was the outside Terrace Restaurant. I was able enjoy brilliant Florentine cuisine while visualizing breathtaking historic views glistening under the awesome Florence sunset. It is situated in a position that overlooks the banks of the romantic Arno River, the magnificent Church ll Cestello, and the Ponte Vecchio Bridge.

 

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The hotel also offers: Concierge Service – 24 hour front desk – Parking available –Babysitter upon request – Room Service – Business Center – Car Rental Service – Laundry/Valet – Safety deposit boxes – Some pets allowed - Tour Service –choose from more than one hundred CDs and latest movies, (hotel services on line) – Wake up service available – Traditional massage on request – Westin Workout – Personal shopper on request. The Westin Excelsior Hotel offers Workout amenities 24 hours a day, every day.

 

Several celebrities stayed in Florence at the two properties owned nowadays by the Starwood group and include: the Romanov family, Emperor William II of Prussia, the Dukes of Windsor, the Shah of Persia with his wife Soraya, Princess Margaret of England, Elena of Romania, Queen Sofia of Greece, the King of Yugoslavia, the English Prime Minister W. Churchill and a number of world-wide famous artists such as Johann Strauss, Backhaus, Corot, Rubinstein, Menuhin, Toscanini, Orson Welles, Charles Chaplin, Françoise Sagan, Emperor Hirohito, Henry Fonda, Queen Juliana of Holland, Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Bruno Walter, Furtwangler, Beniamino Gigli, Maria Callas, Josephine Baker, Maurice Béjart, Carla Fracci, Marcello Mastroianni, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren and me, just to name a few.

 

Lastly, I feel it is important to share the hotels wealth of historical memories dating back to 1427. It was first owned by the noble family of Boccaccio as their residence, then owned by the Gondi family and later became the property of Londomez, who was most likely the first to use it as a hotel. The hotel was passed on by many owners until 1912, when Mr. Gerardo Kraft obtained the property of the two contiguous hotels, “La Ville” and “Italie”. In 1925, both hotels were closed down for important works of renovations and they were opened again in 1927 as one complex under the name of Excelsior Italie with 170 rooms. The other fantastic hotel on the property is known as the Grand Hotel. In 1997, the Excelsior Hotel became the Westin Excelsior, entering into its new phase in the history books.

 

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I speak with all honesty when I say that a visit to the Westin Excelsior is a must in your lifetime. I rate it an A+ on every aspect, from all its comforts and beauty, its stellar service and location, to its welcoming feeling of being your home away from home.

 

For more information, please contact:

www.starwood.com/pressclub - www.starwood.com/grandflorence

Piazza Ognissanti 3 - 50123 Florence, Italy Telephone 0039 055 264201

Fax 0039 055 210278 excelsiorflorence@westin.com  www.westin.com/excelsiorflorence

 

 

Important things to do and sights to see in Florence:

 

Eat Two Scoops of Gelato Every Day

Shop till you drop

Devour as much pasta and pizza as possible

Palazzo Vecchio

The Accademia to visit Michelangelo's David

Piazza Della Signoria

Il Duomo - Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Duomo Square

Ponte Vecchio

Giardino di Boboli

The San Lorenzo Market don’t forget to rub the boars nose and toss a coin

Spedale Degli Innocenti

Palazzo Pitti

Galleria degli Uffizi

Galleria dell' Academia

Piazza della Repubblica

Piazza Santa Croce

Uffizi Gallery

Breathtaking views of Florence from the Piazzale Michelangelo