Openings: The 25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino Debuts in Florence

Of the many and sundry things nearly twenty-two months of on and off COVID lockdowns stripped from our lives, the ability to travel to Florence was certainly amongst the more acutely felt. Indeed, we have often wondered if our very soul itself was trapped in a kind of Renaissance timewarp, which allows us to vaguely appreciate the modern world, without ever feeling like we truly belong to it.

No surprise then, one of the things we most love about fair Firenze is the ability of its citizenry to conjure instantly breathtaking little hotels out of some or other forgotten 15th Century palazzo or nunnery, and act like it was simply no real trouble to do so at all. But now the Hamburg based 25hours Hotels company has undertaken just such a conversion on a much larger scale, while adding their particular brand of Hanseatic hip to the mix. Indeed, just a quick walk Southwest of the Piazza Santa Maria Novella, they have converted the former monastery of the Church of San Paolino into a 171 room boutique hotel that is really not like anything else you’ll find in the city.

Facing the Piazza di S. Paolino and spanning an entire block of a mostly non-touristed neighborhood, the 25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino is cheekily themed around Dante’s The Divine Comedy, with references to “Hell” and “Paradise” employed throughout. Fittingly, provocative Turin based designer Paola Navone was enlisted for the task, and her outré inclinations were allowed to run utterly wild. The rooms, for instance, are categorized as Paradiso, done up in sparkling whites with splashes of turquoise, and Inferno, characterized by deep red patterned wall coverings and dramatic red drapery – so you’ll be on your way to Hell in exceeding style.

Italians, as you may or may not know, don’t generally spend much time in hotel restaurants. But one could readily see the in-house San Paolino eatery bringing in a regular crowd of the local creative set, with its cooly designed, glass-domed dining room, courtyard seating, and Tuscan only wine list. There’s also the Companion Bar for late night cocktails, and the Alimentari, which in Italy falls somewhere between a small, local grocery store and a place to meet over a glass of wine; here it’s done up in vivid blue tones, with cuts of meat hanging from the ceiling in such a way as to almost resemble a particularly outlandish Damien Hirst installation.

Of course, Venice and Rome are obviously far more viscerally linked with the film world than Florence. But because why not, the hotel features the below ground Cinema Paradiso, where a curated collection of celluloid classics new and old will be screened to guests and local cinemaphiles alike.

There’s never really been a blueprint for a hotel in Florence as a “scene” unto itself; indeed, Florentines pretty much like to hang at their locals. But considering how seamlessly 25hours managed to achieve just such a buzz in cities like Berlin and Vienna, we’re betting that it happens fairly organically here too. Oh, and if you’re looking for us, you’ll definitely find us seated closer to the Inferno.

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