We also appreciated the hotel’s intimate and serene ambiance, buffet breakfast and elegant décor.

Overall Impression We arrived at the Relais Santa Croce from the Florence train station in the pouring rain. As soon as the taxi stopped at the hotel entrance, a helpful doorman took charge of our luggage and directed us up one flight of wide stairs (there was also an elevator) to reception. Once we dispensed with the check-in formalities someone showed us around the family friendly hotel and escorted us to our Junior Suite where we quickly shed our rain gear. Although we did not see much of the sun during our three night stay in the Renaissance city we enjoyed our visit, in great part, thanks to the quiet and comfort of our accommodations.

Exploring the city on foot in rainy weather was best done in short excursions. This meant that we spent more time in our room and at the hotel than we had initially expected. Fortunately our hotel was up to the challenge. The common areas were beautiful and our Junior Suite included complimentary internet access. Except at breakfast we seldom saw or heard other guests. It felt luxuriously, at times, as if we were the only guests in the former noble palace.

The small hotel was ideally situated on Via Ghibelina, a long and quiet street just to the side the main tourist areas, providing us quick access to the city’s famous landmarks on foot while remaining outside the really congested areas. We also appreciated the hotel’s intimate and serene ambiance, buffet breakfast and elegant décor.

Children The hotel welcomed children of all ages.

Class Of Accommodation Luxury boutique hotel in the five-star luxe category.

Concierge Francesca Lotti

Connectivity At our request the staff provided us an ADSL cable when we arrived (the first one we received was too short to reach from the wall plug to the desk and they immediately sent a longer cable) to connect from out notebook computer on the desk to the internet. Access was complimentary. In addition, there were two computers on the ground floor of the hotel for guest use.

Handicapped Access According to a spokesperson, “Yes, features as per EU legislation.”

Hotel Manager Eugenio Rigo

Length Of Stay Three nights

Location In the Santa Croce neighborhood of Florence within a few minutes walk from the Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, and Pitti Palace. The hotel is between the cathedral and Basilica of Santa Croce.

Managed Baglioni Hotels Spa

Owned Roberto Polito

Pets Allowed The hotel welcomed dogs and cats only (not bigger than a cocker spaniel)

Size The multi-story hotel had 24 rooms and suites and employed up to 35 staff members depending on the season.

Year Opened-Renovated It first opened as a hotel in 2007. In 2009, the property was purchased by Baglioni Hotels Spa. The property was recently renovated. The artisans paid special attention to original architectural features, precious metals, period furniture and frescoes.

Lobby And Common Areas The hotel was established in the former 17th century palace of the Marchese Baldinucci, in his time a treasurer to the pope and a member of the Florentine aristocracy. It was decorated with post renaissance frescoes and antiques. The common areas of the palace, now the Palazzo Jacometti Ciofi, were decorated in an 18th century style featuring antiques and modern furniture.

Each floor has seven windows facing the front of the building. The ground floor windows are covered by railings and stone frames extend down to the pavement and around the openings. Two entrance columns, brought from Rome when the palace was built, support a balcony. The ancient coat of arms of the Baldinucci Family and the faint inscription Deo Spes Mea can be seen just above the balcony and on the granite columns.

From the ground floor where the street level entrance was located we climbed broad stone and Venetian Terrazzo stairs to the first floor for reception or directly to our room. The corridor floors were of grey concrete and resin. The bar, a step away from reception, had several sofas centered around a white marble fireplace. There was a carved wood bar enhanced by wooden wall paneling where the liqueurs were housed. A former music room, the Sala della Musica had original hardwood flooring, a vaulted ceiling with bright stuccoes set against a beige background, a white marble fireplace and two brick stoves between the windows. The Fumoir or smoking room had frescoes in burgundy, blue and green. It was furnished with wood and leather armchairs and antique rugs.

Bathroom The pretty bathroom was decorated in shades of beige and pale brown. It had Corian walls and russet stone on the floor, sink base and tub deck. There was a bathtub with a towel rack, stand alone shower with a glass door, rain shower, hand held hose and steam feature. There was also a toilet, a bidet, and a sink with a large mirror above it. When the toilet flushed some water spilled out of the toilet bowl. We lowered the toilet bowl top to avoid the water spilling onto us however that mean the next time we used the toilet there were splashes of water on the plastic toilet seat. There was a vanity mirror on the wall by the sink. There were twin bath robes hanging on the wall behind the door.

Room Our second floor room, Junior Suite 214, was 43.2 square meters in size with a view to the building across the street and down onto Via Ghibelina (mainly parked cars and three large blue street garbage bins). Its most noteworthy feature was an elevated walk-in wardrobe featuring three stone arches at the bottom of the wall.

We reached our room via a wide stone staircase or if we were feeling less energetic there was a large elevator. The hallways were lined with modern style wall hanging lamps with sheer cloths for shades. Our room was at the end of a short hallway behind a simple door opened with a leather encased electronic key. Once the door was open we hung the key on a special holder to turn and keep on the room lights.

From an entrance hallway the bathroom was to the right and to the left, up four black wood steps, there was a rectangular area about five feet wide that housed a leather bench followed by a doorless two sided closet open on three sides. The closet had hanging space and shelves. The bottom part of the space was designed as a luggage area above three low to the ground drawers.

The bedroom had neutral colors (dark and light wood, pale walls, beige curtains), high ceilings with wood beams spaced about four feet apart and painted white, and pale beechwood floors. Two thirds of the walls were off white and the bottom of the walls was covered with dark wood panels. During the day sunlight filtered through the windows. Three small shaded lamps hung from the ceiling along the entrance hallway, two upright lamps, a small recessed light in the closet and two night lamps provided subdued lighting in the room.

There were three large windows facing Via Ghibelina. Each one had a short aged railing and wood shutters. On the inside there were double curtains for privacy and shade. The left part of the room was home to a pretty black and white wall facing desk with an armless russet colored chair. On it there was a telephone and above it there was a 40 inch Philips flat screen television with a Sky satellite box at the bottom. An extra wide bed made up of two small mattresses set together against a common brown leather headboard was across from the desk. To the left of the bed there was a narrow black and white night table with four drawers. The other side of the bed was home to a brown wood table with a second phone. Both phones had speakers, as well as hold and redial functions. An oval folding wood table stood against one wall near the bed and a three foot wide comfortable brown leather bench was at the foot of the bed. The temperature was controlled via a digital wall mounted display.

In the hallway there was a built-in cabinet that held a two sided minibar including a mini refrigerator with chilled beverages. The windows drowned out most of the exterior sound. We heard room doors along our hallway closing, classical music one night and during the day we heard the faint sounds of traffic but otherwise it was mostly quiet in our second floor room.

Food And Restaurants A buffet breakfast, available between 7:30 a.m. and 11 a.m., was included in the room rate. In addition, it was possible to order items for a supplement from a printed menu: eggs cooked various ways, oat meal, forest berries and salmon and toast. It was also possible to order room service. Lunch was available from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner was served between 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. at the hotel restaurant and through room service. The night before we left we dined at the hotel restaurant Guelfi and Ghibellini which served Mediterranean and Tuscan dishes prepared by Chef Marco Tremonte and his staff. Francesco, who worked as barman and server at the restaurant, looked after us that night. He was generous with his recommendations which were worthwhile. For Antipasti we sampled the Foie gras with apples and the Octopus with prawns in a white bean sauce with a touch of virgin olive oil; for Primi Piatti we had the Agnolotti (large ravioli) stuffed with cheese and topped with shaved truffles; for Secondi we had the Grilled steak and the Seabass (my favorite dish); for Dolci we sampled the Vanilla Sorbet (tasted more like ice cream) and the Chocolate, a flour-less cake accompanied by tangerine ice cream with a slice of mandarin orange. A small tray of petit fours arrived with the hot beverages: four biscotti, two coconut balls, and two raspberry tartlets. We accompanied the meal with a chilled Prosecco and Tuscan red wine.

Amenities There were two cotton bathrobes (in large and extra large), a set of made-in-Italy house brand toiletries made by La Bottega Dell’Albergo S.p.A. in 50 milliliter plastic containers of hair conditioner, shampoo, body lotion, bath foam in herbal and fig scent as well as two loofah sponges in the bathtub, two vegetable soaps, and shoe sponge and shower caps in boxes. A separate container held cotton balls and cotton swabs. There was a copy of the International Herald Tribune in the breakfast room in the morning. There were complimentary pay-per-view films available through the television system (it took 30 minutes of attempts on our system and the assistance of one of the staff who brought a second remote control with him to figure out how the system worked).

Facilities There was a breakfast room, a small bar area and an adjacent restaurant.

Other The Relais Santa Croce was part of the Baglioni Hotel Group, one of 15 hotels and a residence (one in London, nine in Italy, and five in France) striving for “a less formal type of elegance and hospitality without missing out on design details.” The Baglioni Hotel Group is a Milan based company. The Enoteca Pinchiorri, a well known restaurant, was on the ground floor of the building.

Some of the celebrities who have stayed at the hotel include: Angelina Jolie, Charles Aznavour, Kate Moss, Brad Pitt, Jessica Simpson, Jose Luis Varela, Dionne Warwick and Caetano Veloso.

Cleanliness Excellent

Date Of Review May 2010

Reviewers Article by Elena del Valle

Photographs by Gary Cox

Service There was twice daily room service including restocking of the minibar twice per day. Front desk staff secured domestic train tickets on our behalf (the Italian website did not accept foreign credit cards. Fortunately, we were able to withdraw euros from a nearby ATM and pay the hotel in cash as required).

Would You Stay There Again? Yes

Contact Information

  • Address:
    • Via Ghibelina 87
    • 50122 Florence, Italy
  • Phone:
    • +39 055 234 2230
  • Fax:
    • +39 055 234 1195
  • Website:
  • Email: