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Francis Bown, Bown's Best

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See below for the latest May 2017 Reviews

Hotel Savoy, Florence, Italy | Bown's Best


The Savoy Hotel occupies one of the best locations in Florence: mid-way between the Duomo and the piazza Vecchia, on the corner of the piazza della Repubblica. It is a handsome building, having been erected in 1893 in the Classicial style. Surrounded by shops of the très chic sort, within it is itself a temple of contemporary elegance. The Savoy is full of works of contemporary art, including paintings by Luca Pignatelli. But, as is the way with the hotels of Rocco Forte, its modernity is of the comfortable and welcoming kind. It can also boast a chef of prodigious talent. If you are thinking of visiting this most beautiful of cities, you will certainly not go wrong if you choose to stay at The Savoy.

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Hotel l'Orologio, Florence, Italy | Bown's Best


The Hotel L’Orologio is a delightful place in which to stay, for it is very comfortable, immaculately maintained, offers pleasant and efficient service and enjoys a desirable location in one of the finest squares in Florence. But if you love your expensive wrist watches... then it is Heaven itself. The owner of the hotel is fascinated by such timepieces, and has an extensive horde of the best examples. His enthusiasm is reflected in the work of interior designer Marianna Gagliardi throughout the hotel – in photographs, paintings and numerous small details. Each floor of the building has as its theme one of three famous manufacturers – Rolex, Vacheron Constantin and Patek Philippe – and each room has above its door the name of one of the items in the owner’s collection. I noticed that even the door handles in the bar were in the form of the hands on a watch face. Truly, this establishment reflects its owner’s passion.

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Le Bistrot, Villa Cora, Florence, Italy | Bown's Best


In an affluent part of Florence, on a hill overlooking the ancient city centre in the distance, stands a grand 19th Century villa, which has been wonderfully restored and turned into a luxury hotel. It was built in 1868 for Baron Gustave Oppenheim. At this house were entertained many of the great and good of the day, including the composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The good Baron was evidently a man of eclectic tastes, and the sumptuous interiors of his mansion were created – without the sparing of expense – in various, contrasting styles. To walk through them now, in their newly pristine state, is a heady experience. The Moorish Hall – with its Oriental ceiling and fresco by Antonio Caremmi – houses an admired restaurant, Le Bistrot.

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Francis Bown 2003
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