Villa San Michele, Florence
A former monastery, this magnificent Orient-Express hotel in the Fiesole hills is just 15-minutes from Florence yet feels a million miles from the tourist frenzy below.
Who is it good for?
Parents wanting to soak up all Florence has to offer, with or without a tot in tow. The elegant hotel set in the hills above the city provides the perfect place to escape to after a day of sightseeing or shopping. And the Smile Kids’ Club enables you to indulge in a morning of art and culture safe in the knowledge that your offspring are having a ball with the engaging and attentive childcare team.
The pretty rose-fragranced, and lemon and geranium-filled terraced gardens are a wonderful place to relax with a chilled class of Chianti any time of day, and The Loggia Restaurant serves up some of the best Tuscan food in the area, as well as some of the best views. As if this isn’t enough, the icing on an already pretty special cake, is the fabulous swimming pool (and pool bar) on the top terrace. Pure bliss.
Lots of little touches create a very memorable stay for junior guests: the cuddly lion (the hotel mascot) presented to them on arrival, along with a welcome pack of DVDs, slippers and a bathrobe, the children’s guidebook to the area, rose leaf messages left on beds and chocolate-dipped fruit and biscuits.
The Children’s Concierge and Smile Kids’ Club (which is free) offer a range of fabulous days out and activities including cocktail making and cookery classes, various arts and crafts, museum treasure hunts, visits to an ice cream factory and Italian lessons.
Travel time: Flights from London to Florence take 2 hours and 10 minutes, it’s then 25 minutes to the hotel. Alternatively you can fly to Pisa, which also takes 2 hours and 10 minutes, it is just over an hour from the hotel.
Getting there: CityJet flies from London City direct to Firenze Airport; from £147 return. easyJet flies from London Gatwick to Pisa; from £53 return, and British Airways does the same route; from £80 return.
Top tip: The hotel has a free shuttle service into Florence.
Price: A Family Rate is from £572 per night including breakfast for the whole family and a complimentary second room for children up to 14 years. Look out for various family-friendly packages, which include special amenities for kids, as well as a gourmet dinner for you and up to four hours babysitting.