I've been thinking a little about our trip to Italy earlier this year, in March. This was no doubt partly procrastination on my part (I have been drafting my little fingers to the bone trying to get the extension plans finished for the builders to price), and partly inspiration.

Via JK Place Hotel website
Library reception, via Lonny
I started by looking at our photos of the hotel we stayed at in Florence, JK Place Hotel Firenze. It is located on Piazza Santa Maria Novella, and is absolutely beautiful. I booked into it on the basis of the photos (I did all our bookings through Mr & Mrs Smith) - as it's pretty much exactly how I would like my house to look. When we walked in, I immediately started to gush about how beautiful everything was in a fairly overexcited manner, and Mr AV then said "I can see why we're staying here - you pretty much want to move in". Truly, I didn't want to leave. 

Via JK Place Hotel Website
The rooms are not big, but they are exquisite - all cashmere and silk and Frette bed linen. Marble bathrooms with beautiful chrome fittings. We spent a lot of time hanging out in the downstairs Lounge. Being a boutique hotel, it doesn't have a Lobby type feel (in fact, the reception desk is in the Library). There was black and white, chrome, zebra upholstery, candles and orchids galore and lovely waiters who plied me with glasses of Prosecco and Mr AV with glasses of Aperol Spritz after the many hours we spent walking the city.

Brunch on a Sunday
The breakfasts were served in the atrium style Dining Room. It was all buffet style (with the most delicious museli that had chocolate bits in it) and then you'd sit at the communal dining table. There were always a lot of candles burning, which was very atmospheric, but unfortunately Mr AV managed to set his newspaper on fire one morning. This made one guest up the other end of the table go into absolute fits of laugher. At any rate, it was all very civilised aside from the near disastrous fire (as it always is when you travel sans kids).

Via JK Place Hotel Website

And Florence itself is one of my favourite cities in the world. I studied Renaissance Art at University, but hadn't been back to Italy since I was 10. I was in 7th Heaven in the Uffizi, loved wandering in the Boboli Gardens, and viewing the Renaissance Architecture, and Mr AV visited his spiritual home, the Zegna flagship store (where strangely, we ran into one of his junior staff members who was on holiday. What are the odds?).

Boboli Gardens Parterre

Anyway, I'm going to be borrowing heavily from the design of the hotel, and from our far too brief holiday there.


  1. That top sitting room and the dining room with the timber table and black chairs - heaven. Kx The Blog a House Built

    1. It really was perfection K, their other hotels are also absolutely beautiful (I just sadly haven't been to them.....yet). x

  2. Ah Firenze, what a truly amazing place! One of my favourite movies EVER is the Merchant Ivory adaption of 'A Room With A View' so it all seemed so familiar to me even though I had never been there until 4 years ago when we went with our then 3 children. Not to mention finally seeing all of the glorious Botticelli's and Titian's 'Venus of Urbino' for the first time in the Uffizi. I had 'O Mio Babbino Caro' swirling around in my head as background music virtually the whole time. Appropriate really as we were in a villa just outside Florence when we heard that my Dad had died. We stayed in an apartment on the Piazza della Signoria and in a tiny alley behind we ate the most amazing wild boar pasta with a pile of pecorino shavings on one side of the plate and dark chocolate shavings on the other. Sublime. That was the night everything fell into place and we got a babysitter! I dream of Italy unencumbered by children!
    I initially thought the first picture was going to be of your lounge room.....I can see why you love that hotel, it looks glorious and from what you've showed us your taste seems to be in perfect alignment. Rx
    PS I once bumped into a boy I went to school with amongst the shelves of Dehillerin, the iconic cookware shop in Paris! It really is a small world.

    1. I can't even imagine hearing such heart rending news of your Dad so far from home, but to be somewhere so beautiful, and with the divine art I hope it might have comforted somehow.

      I too loved "Room with a View". I watched it on video over and over again in the 80's (and the name Frederick, always to be known as "Freddy" was a frontrunner for our third child!!). I too felt that Florence was so familiar - all those Architectural History lectures were brought to life, along with the familiar scenes from the book and movie. Might have to get it out for a rerun now you've brought it all so vividly back! xx

  3. Dear Heidi
    This is such a beautiful hotel. Perhaps it's new since we last stayed in Florence, I think around 2 or 3 years ago. At that time there were major construction works going on around the Piazza SMN and it was very noisy.

    Did you visit the Officina de SMN? I dearly love that place - even the heavenly scent you inhale from the street. On first visit years ago, I tried to buy it but they explained it's not a single perfume but a mixture of all the wonderful separate things they sell. It's also a glorious building with the beautiful old painted ceilings and antiques, originally a convent where the nuns made herbal and flower remedies for illnesses and skin conditions.

    Romy, I love Dehillerin too. Almost everytime we go to Paris I shop there, bringing back yet more stuff each time. It's an amazing combination of treaure house and rabbit warren of traditional kitchen equipment goodies. But have never seen anyone I know. Heathrow is a good place for that. We almost always see at least one each time.

    Heidi, our favourite hotel in Florence, until seeing your pictures of the JK PLace, has been the Hotel Calzaiuoli in the Via of the same name. Two minutes walk to the left as you leave the hotel and you're at the Duomo, two minutes the other way and it's the Piazza della Signoria (we often used to have coffee or lunch at Rivoire in the Piazza d. Signoria). Great location - and it's on a walking street with some good shops, including Furla just across the street from the hotel. There's also a great vintage clothing shop not far away with a wonderful chandelier decorated with beautiful old hats. The Calzaiuoli staff were so kind on our last visit. I came down with a horrendous case of acute bronchitis and trachaeitis (sp?). The hotel called a good doctor who really helped. But even when we were due to leave for Milan I was still far from well. We also had too much luggage (always do - last June the two of us returned from Paris with four large suitcases {started off with 2} and about 5 or 6 pieces of hand luggage) so had asked the hotel to arrange for a porter to meet our taxi at the Firenze SMN station. They could never raise the relevant railway porter people and were very apologetic. The morning we were due to leave the manager was so concerned he insisted on sending the hotel's own porter to the station in the maxi taxi with us. He took one of the hotel's trolleys and put us and our bags right into our seats on the Milan train. The hotel wouldn't hear of payment for this and just asked us to remember to tip the porter. We were heartwarmed by such kindness and hospitality. The hotel is old and pleasant but not as stylish as yours and probably a lot cheaper. However, because of their kindness and generosity we'll never forget them and would always give them first priority. Loved Room with a View too. Best wishes, Pamela

    1. Hello Pamela, you are so well travelled, I always love to hear about your trips. The hotel you were in definitely went above and beyond. Service is so important and it really does make a difference to your experience of a holiday. Our hotel in Florence was our splurge part of the trip (our European trip was a total of 12 nights, about all we could manage with organising our children to be cared for while we were away!)- we were there in the off season, so we got a very good rate as well. It also made up for the fairly awful sleeper train experience from Paris to Venice a few nights before (for some reason Mr AV thought it would be like the Orient Express. It was most certainly not!). The construction work on Piazza SMN was the restoration of the church. They were just finishing it off, so maybe that's what you experienced a few years ago? I didn't go to Officina de SMN, I think it was closed and that was the part they were renovating. I'll put it on the list for our next visit back to Florence (and hopefully it won't be in 27 years time like last time!) Have a lovely weekend xx

  4. Have been wanting to go to this hotel for sooooooo long! It's my dream hotel. Forget the Georges V. I want to check in here.

    Look at that library/reception area. Look at that Gustavian grey/blue colour. Look at the pinstripe sofa. Have you ever SEEN a more beautiful hotel?!

    I'm quietly envious of you Miss Heide. (But in a nice way.) I'm so glad you experienced it.


    1. You of all people should definitely go! I'm sure with your frugal ways you'd manage to wangle a very good press deal too. It was worth every expensive little penny we paid, and if I can capture just a little of it in our home I'll be happy! xx

  5. What a sublime post, Heidi. Thanks for transporting me- I can travel vicariously through you! I adored Firenze as well - I took my copy of 'A Room with a View' to the top of the Santa Maria del Fiore, sat down and read it! One day I'll return with my husband - very different to being an 18 year old exchange student ☺. J x

    1. It was different to travel this time for me too - last time I was in Europe I was a penniless student. Definitely a place I want to go back to again- I just loved Italy. x


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