Whatever you do, don’t call this property a hotel. For this guesthouse is anything but. What it is, however, is one of the most unique, funky, and eclectic abodes that you’ll find in Florence. There are hidden rooms under stairwells and through bookcases, there’s shocking and alluring art, and there are owners and a staff who are fun and completely unpretentious.
Depending on the season, the owners are known to give guests some olive oil as a gift.
No two rooms are alike. There’s the camel room appropriately named for Joe hanging on the wall and the only room where you can smoke. There’s a kid’s room that has its own climbing wall. A dog room comes with a patio. The Oriental room has odes of inspiration for lascivious travelers. And so on. Definitely comb through their website to get a complete feel.
Like the bedrooms, the bathrooms are unique as well. Some come with heated wooden floors for toasty toes on cold mornings. In all bathrooms, there are top-rate bath products by local company Santa Maria Novella.
The guest house is an M.C. Escher maze of rooms, stairs, and hallways. There’s really not much of a lobby per se.
Guests are treated to breakfast inside their rooms with fresh croissants, toast, homemade jams, tea and coffee. Formerly a hammam, a ground floor room has been converted into an intimate dining spot with classic Roman dishes that rival the best kitchens in Italy.
Want to learn how it’s done? Ask the staff about cooking lessons.
Like most places in Florence, this guest house is walking distance to attractions, restaurants, bars, and shopping areas. The property is also just a 5-minute walk to the train station, making it convenient as an entry or exit spot for the city.
Make it a point of hitting up the laid back and completely Tuscan Trattoria Sostanza (3-minute walk) for their drool-worthy buttered chicken. For a higher-end meal, check out Winter Garden (6-minute walk) inside the St. Regis hotel for Michelin-starred magic.
Sports fans should walk over to Piazza di Santa Maria Novella where The Fiddler’s Elbow (3-minute walk) always has the best games on TV to go with a good selection of brews. For breathtaking views and classic cocktails, check out the rooftop at SE-STO (7-minute walk) inside the Westin Excelsior.
WHY WE LIKE IT
As unpretentious as it gets, Casa Howard is a fun and quirky guesthouse with unique rooms and a great location. The staff here is incredibly warm and friendly and will help you find a true insider’s guide to Florence – whether it’s restaurants and nightlife or shopping and sightseeing. This decidedly non-hotel is a great choice for adventurous and very budget-friendly travelers and families who want to buck a staid hotel for something completely original and authentic to this city.
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