Trip Report Index:
2. Transit Notes
3. Hotel Review: Bagni di Pisa Palace & Spa
4. Visiting Pisa
5. Visiting Lucca
6. Hotel Review: Westin Excelsior, Florence
7. Room Service Review: Westin Excelsior, Florence
8. Day in Florence
9. Hotel Review: Hotel Laurin, Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy
10. Day in Santa Margherita/Portofino area
11. Hotel Review: Park Hyatt Milan
12. Day in Milan
13. Room Service Review: Park Hyatt Milan
The Westin Excelsior, Florence is steeped in tradition dating back to the 13th century. The noble Boccaccio family originally lived in the spot where the hotel is today. After being passed from family to family and changing hands, it was sold in 1924 to a Swiss hotelier and dubbed the Excelsior Italie. Years later and after an extensive renovation, in 1997 the property became the Westin Excelsior that we know today. To explore Florence, I wanted a hotel for a couple nights, and I wanted to redeem points. The Excelsior is a Starwood Preferred Guest hotel Category 6, which would have cost 25,000 Starpoints per night times two nights. Using the Platinum annual 35% discount amenity it came to just 32,500 for two nights! Since the cost would have been 1200 EUR I thought this was an excellent redemption. Pulling right up to the front of the hotel, an eager bellman was waiting to greet us and graciously help with our luggage.
Stepping into the foyer I immediately saw fresh calla lillies, and felt the old-world charm of neutral tones, chandeliers, marble pillars, and stained glass windows.
Around the corner to the left was reception, where the agents were warm and friendly. Checking in, I was told there were 171 rooms at the property spread over 5 floors. The 6th floor features a glass rooftop restaurant and bar with a panoramic view of the city. The agent smiled and said that because I had Platinum status, she’d be able to upgrade us to a room with a wonderful view as well. Great!
The room was a corner Deluxe Guest Room with Arno River View, and the first thing I noticed was the light streaming in the window.
I hurried over to the window and found the most gorgeous view outside. Here’s a quick video tour of the room and view.
The bed was wonderfully comfortable and the sheets were luxuriously soft.
The view to the left was of the oldest bridge in Florence, the famed Ponte Vecchio. The construction marred the view just a bit, but not much.
Straight in front was the River Arno, with medieval roads in the background.
The bathroom had a single marble sink, and the standard Westin amenities seemed a bit out of place in such a grand hotel.
There was a raised shower/tub combo, and plenty of large towels.
Later in the day, the view outside turned misty and the water reflected the waning light.
I had chosen breakfast as the Platinum amenity, so the next morning we headed to the breakfast room on the first floor, just past the hotel lobby. Breakfast is normally a whopping 41 EUR per person, and runs from 7-11am.
The breakfast room lighting and stained glass windows were reminiscent of a castle. I half expected to see courtesans arriving rather than tourists in T-shirts and shorts.
The room boasted beautiful ceilings, and the buffet was broken up into different food stations.
We were seated immediately and given menus should we wish to order something from there as well.
There was a tea station with assorted teas.
In addition to regular pitchers of juice, there were also individual bottles.
The display was impressive, but I could see that many people had already been to breakfast and the items hadn’t been replaced.
There was still a good selection of thinly sliced meats, though I could tell they had been picked over.
Lots of fresh fruit still.
There was a small asian station with congee and assorted condiments.
The fresh bread was almost gone, but an older loaf lingered.
I found a last slice of coffee cake and half a pie.
Even though the breakfast was supposed to run until 11, the staff started clearing things away shortly after 10 so that by the time 10:20am hit there was no trace of breakfast. I was astonished how efficiently they cleaned and rolled everything away so quickly, even though I had hoped that I would be able to eat a bit more. I wondered what breakfast option there was for those who showed up at 1045am.
When checking out, I was told that due to the parking restrictions in downtown Florence, I was not allowed to pull up the rental car in front of the hotel and would be fined. The valet guy said if I paid 1 EUR he would take care of having the larger fine dismissed as there was a grace period. No one mentioned this on arrival and the Westin website does say that the hotel offers valet parking, but there are no other details.
Overall, I really enjoyed this hotel. The location was superb, the room was great, and the view was spectacular. I would stay here again!