Wedding season is fast approaching, which means that honeymooners will soon be invading luxury hotels across the Occident.
As a somewhat-newlywed myself, I know how intense it can be—not just the pressure of booking the right suite, but choosing the most jaw-dropping hotel.
After my wife and I were married last June, we spent two weeks in a southward crawl on the Italian boot, starting in Venice and ending in Rome. The two most exhilarating nights were spent at the , in the hills of Fiesole, outside Florence. (The Villa opened for the season last week.)
Converted from a 15th-century convent into a tony hotel with a façade allegedly designed by Michelangelo—a place where Medicis came to confess their sins, adjacent to a park where Leonardo da Vinci tested his flying machine—it boasts 40 enormous rooms and suites with private terraces and nonpareil views of the Tuscan capital.
And, clearly, we weren't the only couple beguiled by its charms: Prince Charles and Camilla had just spent some time there before we arrived.
It isn't any wonder that a future king chose the Villa. The staff specializes in a down-to-earth royal treatment.
Unlike many other altolusso hotel collections, burnishing their brands with gold star inflation, Belmond's mission is to create a familial atmosphere. It's not quite Cheers, but everyone does seem to know your name.
At the Villa, the severe demeanor, grey uniforms, and robotic obsequiousness one has come to expect at luxury hotels is eschewed in favor of personal charm and humor. On our first day, the front desk manager joked around with us while the concierge, sitting to his left, secured our last-minute tickets to the Uffizi. (Earlier, we'd been told that the museum was overbooked for the day.) This kind of service is what makes the Villa so special.
The suite we were assigned was dangerous. A less disciplined couple could easily stay cooped up in bed, enjoying the silence and calm of the cool, spacious interiors. We had to recite the mantra "Get up! Florence awaits" in the morning to combat the temptation to stay in and vegetate.
Sole complaint? We made the mistake of only booking two nights. Our time to see the sights was limited, but on a honeymoon, sunbathing at the infinity pool, and lunch at the loggia obviously takes precedence. The Botticellis and Ghiberti baptistry doors, we assumed, would be there tomorrow.
Rooms from $700.