Food, Days Out and Travel stories from Brighton, London and the Rest of the World


Travel - A Room WithOut a View in Florence

I was channelling Charlotte Bartlett the moment we reached our room at the Grand Hotel Baglioni in Florence.

In the gloom of the unlit room, I had gone straight over to the window to open the shutters and reveal the view beyond. The heavy wooden shutters opened to reveal windows and then another pair of shutters that opened outwards. Meanwhile, my Welsh One was figuring out how to make the 21st-century lights turn on. Light from outside and in illuminated the room at the same time and I discovered that our view was of an inner courtyard and the wall on the other side.

Inside my head. the starchy maiden aunt, played brilliantly by Maggie Smith was delivering the line at the beginning of A Room with a View that sets up the film.

Charlotte Bartlett: This is not at all what we were led to expect.
Lucy Honeychurch: I thought we were going to see the Arno.
Charlotte Bartlett: The signora distinctly wrote, South rooms, with a view and close together, instead of which she has given us North rooms without a view and a long way apart.
In the film Charlotte is acting as paid companion, to her niece, Lucy Honeychurch her adolescent and slightly miss-ish wealthy charge, played by the equally brilliant Helena Bonham Carter.

I wasn't in love with my view, in fact, I felt hugely disappointed at my first view of Florence. On my birthday. Never mind, when I looked about the room it was actually very nice. Large, with a high ceiling, the bathroom was split into two parts with generous his and hers wash basins immediately through the door. There were complimentary white slippers and mini toiletries and it was all very nicely presented.

where to stay in Florence, photo by modern bric a brac

We decided to explore the hotel and soon found ourselves on the roof terrace. Everything was exquisite. The plants along the walls and dotted around were abundant and well cared for. The red tiles on the floor were clean and well maintained and the tables and chairs plentiful and inviting. This I did love.

where to stay in Florence, photo by modern bric a brac

The evening was peaceful and the roof terrace empty. We walked around the corner and there across the rooftops we could see the unmistakable dome of Brunelleschi. To the right, we could also see the medieval tower of the Palazzo Vecchio that Cosimo de Medici had requisitioned and made into his city residence. To the left was the dome of another impressive building, the Cappelle Medicee mausoleum of the Medici family. It was a pretty spectacular sight.

where to stay in Florence, photo by modern bric a brac

The next day our first mission was to try out the Grand Hotel Baglioni's breakfast. We entered the large dining area and from every table the Duomo was unmissable. What a view for breakfast. We chose a table by the window and our view opposite the Duomo was incredible.

After breakfast we headed back to the roof terrace to see it in daylight. We had the place to ourselves and we climbed to the highest point. In the sunlight the views were even better and it felt very peaceful up there. 

where to stay in Florence, photo by modern bric a brac

where to stay in Florence, photo by modern bric a brac

Later discoveries of the Hotel revealed a grand staircase and a black and white photographic exhibition on its various floors. The photos dated back to the late 1800s and were a collection of scenes around Florence. My favourite photos were of Mussolini, it was quite fascinating to look at this very famous Italian.

where to stay in Florence, photo by modern bric a brac

Before we left we also visited the Hotel bar and met Marco their mixologist who, it turns out visits Brighton regularly for meet ups with a mixology club in Brighton. One, which is apparently very well known. I need to find out more about this I think and report back.

Would I stay at the Grand Hotel Baglioni again? Yes, of course and I'd love to take all my family there too. I think they'd love it.

We found our holiday on (yes it still exists) and it cost us £300 each for three nights Bed and Breakfast plus flights from Gatwick.

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