Right in the heart of Florence, chic boutique hotel Continentale is perfectly situated for exploring the incredible sights the city has to offer. It sits on the north side of the beautiful Arno River, and has picturesque views from many of the rooms. The hotel is just moments from the Ponte Vecchio, the oldest (and most photographed) bridge in the city. And it’s easy to see why Florence is known as one of the most romantic cities in the world – it’s full of pretty cobbled streets, beautiful art and architecture. It’s simple to get to, too, with a flight to Pisa taking just over two hours plus, transfers.
Ponte Vecchio, the oldest (and most photographed) bridge in the city.
This is a superb choice for any couple looking to mix romance and luxury in the city. The hotel’s interiors are minimal and modern with lots of stylish touches, and our room is spacious, with soft romantic lighting. Continentale is one of the Lungarno Collection’s four Florence hotels. All of the retreats are owned by the Ferragamo family, and each is beautifully designed, with a unique personality.
Spacious room, with soft romantic lighting.
What to do
There are so many magnificent sights to visit here, such as the world-famous gallery the Uffizi, but one of our favourites is the Palazzo Vecchio, which overlooks the main square – the Piazza della Signoria. We do a tour of the secret passages, follow a guide through winding staircases and view lavish rooms, before arriving in the Hall of the Five Hundred. This vast room is breathtaking, with walls and ceiling adorned with dramatic art. Another must-see is the Duomo. Admire the huge Renaissance dome and visit the Museum of Opera del Duomo to learn the fascinating history.
People visit Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. The landmark serves as City Hall of Florence and was built in 13th century. Gettyimages
What to eat
As expected, the food in Florence is sublime. Breakfast at the Continentale is buffet-style, and we particularly love the biscuit pot with orange-infused yoghurt. The hotel doesn’t serve dinner, but its sister hotels have lots of options, including sushi and cocktails at Fusion Bar & Restaurant at the Gallery Hotel Art. For something special, pop across the river to Michelin-starred Borgo San Jacopo at Hotel Lungarno. Sitting in the private dining room overlooking the river, we enjoy the most divine eight-course tasting menu with some dishes cooked at the table by executive chef Peter Brunel (since this review there is a new executive chef Claudio Mengoni). For a delicious Italian brunch, visit Caffè dell’Oro at Portrait Firenze Hotel.
Borgo San Jacopo Restaurant Hotel Lungarno Florence
What to see
If time is tight, a great way to explore is with Tuk Tuk Florence. We whizz through the city, stopping at lots of the key view points, and it’s a great way to see beyond the original city walls. For one of the best views, be sure not to miss sunset cocktails at the Continentale’s roof bar, La Terrazza.
Rooftop bar La Terrazza
Why we love it
This hotel and magical city tick all the boxes for the perfect mini-moon: sumptuous, stylish accommodation, delicious food, history, romance and shopping. You’ll leave with a love of Italian culture and be rushing to return.
From €230 (approx. £196) pn, excl. 10% tax and breakfast, lungarnocollection.com. Tuk tuk tours from €50 (approx. £42) per hour, tuktukflorence.net/tuk-tours
ROME CAVALIERI, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, Rome
On top of Monte Mario, Rome’s highest hill, overlooking the hustle and bustle of the Eternal City, this sprawling, regal hotel is the perfect place to go for a calming break in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. A 20-minute drive from the epic ruins of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, Rome Cavalieri offers a tranquil retreat from the madness of the city centre, but plenty of options to explore it, too.
City skyline with landmarks of the Ancient Rome ; Colosseum and Roman Forum, the famous travel destination of Italy. Getty Images
Couples who want all the excitement of a city break, but a little peace and quiet in-between sightseeing, will love this palatial hotel, with 15 acres of grounds creating some much-needed breathing space from the frenetic pace of the capital.
What to do
From the Beauvais tapestries in the lobby, to original Warhols in the penthouse – the hotel is home to over 1,000 pieces of art, and feels like a museum in its own right. We discover the unique works on a private tour with one of the resident historians. You can also download a podcast to get a real insight into the extremely beautiful (and extremely valuable) pieces on display. The decadent spa is worth a visit, too, with outdoor and indoor pools, plus luxurious La Prairie treatments available to book. We recommend the Caviar Instant Lift Facial – an indulgent massage treatment that leaves me with glowing skin in under an hour.
Art is displayed behind the reception desk at Rome Cavalieri
What to eat
Rome Cavalieri is home to the divine La Pergola: the three Michelin-starred restaurant with superstar chef Heinz Beck at the helm. Beginning the meal with an exotic salt menu (think Hawaiian black or Persian blue, to name just a few), we are then led on a journey through 10 courses of culinary delight. Our dinner included rabbit tortellini with carrot and chamomile scent, and a rich venison dish with polenta and black truffle – each presented beautifully to provide a treat for both the eyes and the palate. The dining room is on the panoramic top floor of the hotel, above the glittering lights of Rome, making it the ultimate spot for a special celebration.
La Pergola Restaurant
What to see
The hotel offers a regular free shuttle bus to the city centre, but our favourite way to see Rome is on a Vespa tour, which can be organised by the hotel’s concierge. Whizzing past the Colosseum, through endless back streets and stopping for a quick gelato is an exhilarating way to get a real taste of Rome – without having to fight your way around the selfie sticks. Throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain is a must – but head down early to avoid the crowds. Religious or not, a trip to St Peter’s Basilica and the Pantheon shouldn’t be missed for the outstanding architecture. And, for something a little more contemporary, visit Mercato Centrale Roma for artisan Italian street food loved by the locals.
Why we love it
The city itself is as romantic as you’d imagine, but being able to remove yourself from the busy centre to a five-star oasis of calm above the rooftops is something truly special.
From £779pp for four nights incl. return Alitalia flights from London, destinology.co.uk