Helvetia & Bristol Hotel, here the majesty of Florence is so obvious Barbara Kingstone November 15, 2011 Europe, Hotels, Italy After leaving the very mysterious lanes and narrow streets of Siena, I couldn’t imagine enjoying Florence as much as I did with the view of this wonderful terra cotta roofed city. But no sooner had I checked into the 400 year old building,now part of the Royal Demeure Group of hotels, I realized how fickle I was. This ancient building is perfectly located. Less than a few minutes walk to the magnificence Duoma, this hotel has the charm that Italy is known for. Old charm doesn’t come cheap but it is worth the comfortable and ambience. With only 65 rooms, all filled even in late September, the suite we had was interior decorated in a very Italian style… yellow and orange patterned stripes, drapes trimmed with similar colored roping. Molded closet doors like these would cost a fortune to purchase if you could find them. The small ante room even featured a Murano chandelier, a small desk, dresser with drawers, a dark burnt orange sofa and floor to ceiling doors leading to the small balcony overlooking, boutiques like LouiLouis Vuitton and Fendi. With the inner doors closed, surprisingly there’s not a sound from the busy street below but once opened, it’s Italy at its best. Busy, chatty, frenetic traffic but strangely devoid of honking even though one has to hold one’s breath to drive here. Open the large door, the entrance to the bedroom, though not large,is most convenient with a sizable walk in closet, similar coloration. and a small marble bathroom. One inconvenience is the lack of shelving for someone like me who travels with a pharmacy and a cosmetic section. The concierge and staff are so pleasant that you enjoy listening to their suggestions, their enthusiasm for their city. The public areas may sound cliche, but really they are like a posh, private residence or palace’s living room and library. It wasn’t unusual to see a few people sitting in front of the extremely high fireplace, (unlit in this steaming weather as the sun streamed into the lobby) reading their newspaper while reclining on the brownish maroon studded leather arm chairs. It’s so elegant that makes one want to do away with white, sleek, shiny, stainless steel decor. which I may add, is my favorite look. Although small, the dinning room doubles as a bar and the breakfast room. It’s the brass and crystal chandeliers that captured my attentions. Upturned and fluted, they were works of art. The small and covered outdoor area it so typical of how well outdoor space is used. Italians love eating el fresco and no matter size, if only 5 tables, it works This small area right off the hotel, abutting the quiet road and sidewalk seems to be favored but the there are so many outdoor cafes, always filled, that it isn’t a surprise when the hotel’s tables are filled. I’ll have to rethink and digest my digression about decor, since everything was obviously well thought out and perfect for the building’s architecture and grandeur.,Actually, sleek and stainless steel wouldn’t have had the same Italian elegant effect. All in all, for location and service, elegance and stately majestic ambience, it wouldn’t be too awful to call this home.