Italy Hotel Roundup

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Advisor - Pamela Murphy
Curated By

Pamela Murphy

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Italy Hotel Roundup
Curator’s statement

I have been spending the last two months going back and forth to Italy, and I wanted to (finally) share a round-up of the hotels I stayed in and/or visited.

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Dimora Ghirlandaio: This is where I for DUCO. The grounds are absolutely stunning and I can imagine that if a group took over the whole place and wasn’t looking to spend their days and nights in the city center, it could be an incredible experience. Located in a private hamlet about 30-minutes into the hills outside of Florence, this was once the historical home of the Ghirlandaios, a family of painters. As I said, it is available for buyouts only and includes the following: 

  • A gorgeous hamlet in the Florentine Chianti area surrounded by breathtaking landscapes.

  • Five different historic luxury accommodations, each with its own private garden.

  • A park full of flowers and breathtaking views of the Duomo in Florence, of the Certosa del Galluzzo, and of the Tuscan hills.

  • A 50-meter swimming pool surrounded by olive and fruit trees

  • A VERY small spa with special, regenerating treatments and an even smaller gym.

  • The authentic Ghirlandaio Chapel, dedicated to the Visitation of the Virgin, with restored frescoes by Ridolfo Ghirlandaio.

  • A variety of 5-star experiences and services to discover Tuscany at your leisure and allow yourself some pampering during your stay.

Villa Cora: This might be my favorite hotel in all of Florence. Located about a 15-minute walk from the city up on a hill in a very green and chic residential neighborhood overlooking the Boboli Gardens, it’s the perfect respite from the crowded streets of Florence. The villa dates back to 1868, when it was commissioned by Baron Oppenheimer as a gift to an Italian woman in the hopes of persuading her to marry him (spoiler alert: it worked). Since then, it has passed through a few families and was fully renovated in 2010, but it retains all of its original details, including a ballroom that was designed to be a mini-Versailles and a magic room that was created out of the Baron’s love for fortune tellers and all things mystical. Today the Villa has 43 rooms in 3 buildings and they are all pretty spectacular. The largest are on the 1st floor, but the balcony rooms start on the 2nd floor and with views of the gardens and pool, these were my favorite. There’s also a spectacular rooftop terrace open only to hotel guests, three spa treatment rooms, a fitness center, an underground speakeasy and a rose garden with more than 100 types of roses, none of them red. The service and staff here are incredible, the food is fantastic and I just can’t say enough good things about this property. Perfect for couples and families (yes, connecting rooms!) and I can only imagine how spectacular a wedding would be here.

Helvetia + Bristol: What a dream! Located in the city center, but far enough away from the throngs of tourists that seem to have taken over Florence year-round, this one surprised me. I’m not usually a big, super traditional hotel lover, but Helvetia + Bristol is so much more than that. With 64 rooms divided between the older (yet renovated) more traditional Helvetia side and the brand new contemporary Bristol side, are perfection and it’s worth mentioning that the bed was the most comfortable bed I have ever had the pleasure of sleeping on. Service is a 20/10 and the winter garden breakfast room is heaven. The spa is extraordinary with a series of saunas, water circuits, and relaxation areas (technically: the largest luxury spa of the historic center, spanning 540 square meters, with caldarium, tepidarium, sudatorium, frigidarium and two spectacular swimming pools). The addition of Cibreo Caffe to the F+B might be the best collaboration of all time and gives the hotel a very hip edge, making it feel younger and doing a perfect job of blending classic and modern. There’s also secret access to the tea room at Ignio Massari, which, if you don’t know, you should because he’s a renowned pastry chef whose confections are to die for. Truly.

The Place Firenze: This used to be JK Place and is now just The Place. I am not quite sure why (if anyone knows, please tell me), but regardless, it retains that Place feel that I love so much - luxe but homey and friendly and super chic in a cozy way. Seven room types, a fantastic restaurant with outdoor space right on Piazza Santa Maria Novella (don't miss the pasta pomodoro) and a great library bar. I love the location, too - super central, yet it doesn’t feel chaotic when you step outside as some other locations in Florence might.

Grand Hotel Minerva: Located just across the piazza from The Place, Grand Hotel Minerva has tons of room types and options for families, honeymooners and everyone in between. There’s also a fantastic rooftop pool, restaurant and burger bar which, on a hot Florentine day, seems like the perfect place to cool off. Plus, this one seems to be a bit on the more affordable side of 5-stars in the city, so definitely worth checking out.


Six Senses Rome: Everything about this property - from the sheer fact that it’s a Six Senses to the incredible history of the building (it was the Bank of Rome and has a crazy pedigree) to the GM and DOS, who I truly love.

Deets are: 96 rooms, 12 categories. Classic rooms all have queen beds, King beds start at the Superior level and all are around 28-35 sqm. Six junior suites. The rooftop bar holds 100 people max, two additional bars — one lobby and one lobby outdoor; the restaurant is more modern food court than proper restaurant, modeled after a traditional Roman market.

JK Place Roma: My love affair with this brand knows no bounds. For anyone who’s able to afford it, this is the only place to stay for me. Set in a townhouse, which was part of the noble 17th century Palazzo Borghese, it’s in walking distance to everything but on a street that is so quintessentially Roman. The vibe is elevated elegance that’s homey and so chic you will never, ever want to leave. 27 rooms, 11 categories (4 with glorious terraces) and the ability to do a full buyout, there’s an option for all travelers. Great restaurant, sexy bar and the best staff on the planet. 

The Singer Palace: Back in 1850, Mr. Singer, a famous American entrepreneur, invented the very first sewing machine and opened the Roman headquarters for the company. As time passed, Singer Palace changed use but always kept its original charm. In 2018, the Visocchi family reconverted it into a chic boutique hotel, adding a contemporary touch to the historic location. Centrally-located (and just across the street from Six Senses) in walking distance to all the major historical sights as well as the best shopping streets, this hotel is a little jewel box and should get more attention than it does. There are 30 rooms, including ten suites and ten connecting options. Room 102 is the largest at 100 sqm and has a tub and a shower; rooms 407 and 408 can be combined to create a  suite + superior for five people (there are six of these same options); The Singer Suite has a small dining table for in-room dining. There’s no gym or spa, but there is a bi-level rooftop restaurant and bar that is absolutely gorgeous.


Monteverdi Tuscany: Another personal fave, Monteverdi Tuscany, which is located in the gorgeous town of Castiglioncello del Trinoro in the Val d'Orcia, is owned by Cincinnati native Michael Cioffi, who visited the town in 2003, fell in love and in 2005 began to purchase and renovate villas. He ultimately took the town over almost completely, growing it into a collection of exquisitely restored villas and a boutique hotel. There’s a spectacular spa, a newly added Medispa (botox! fillers! liquid IV!), a contemporary art gallery, one fine-dining restaurant and a trattoria opening in August 2023, a culinary academy for cooking classes and private dinners, a wine bar, fantastic lounge with views over the valley and a privately sponsored archaeological dig. The 31 rooms here all have their own design and color palette, but all are soft and sexy and very urban zen. In my opinion, this is about as perfect a hotel as there is. It's all just right and feels so special. Every time I have sent guests here, they can't believe how incredible it is.

Fonteverde: Just over the hill on the other side of the Val d’Orcia is Fonteverde, a resort known mostly for its thermal springs and incredible spa and the wow factor here is HUGE. The views, the spa, the pools, the rooms with large terraces, all huge plusses. The spa is enormous but I should note that the gym is smallish compared to everything else and feels pretty beat up with old equipment. The bar is great with a gorgeous outdoor terrace and the breakfast and lunch area also has beautiful outdoor space. The fine dining restaurant is a bit over the top but the food was pretty solid. The draw here is that it’s a 15-minute walk into the town San Casciano dei Bagni, which is rare for a Tuscan hilltop town. There are a few good restaurants and bars in town and it’s nice to have the option. There are also some great wineries nearby (we visited Podernuovo, owned by Giovanni Bulgari, and the experience was sublime. Rooms are nice, and the ones to go for are the valley view junior suites with terraces on the 1st floor which have enormous terraces overlooking the valley. 


Chia Laguna Resort: Chia Laguna is on the more family-oriented Southern side of Sardinia (think less glitz and glamour, more laid-back and all-inclusive type feel) and is a sprawling behemoth with three distinct properties (Conrad Chia Laguna, Baia di Chia Curio (more. Sea front rooms, ask for 41 for the best of the best) and Hotel Village (a 4-star), ten restaurants, a small shopping mall and a theater for concerts. We stayed at Chia Laguna, which was nice — views over a lagoon onto the sea from many of the rooms and suites, and the service is Incredible. Rooms are spacious and clean. The Shardana Suite is the Mac daddy and is huge, with a private plunge pool and views for days. We ate at two of the restaurants — the more fine dining La Terrazza and then Su Mesa, which is more traditional Sardinian. The food was great. There are two beach clubs, both a short golf cart ride away (the hotel provides shuttle service) and the concierge can also organize amazing hidden beach tours (this is a MUST) as well as winery visits, etc. I think this a solid, affordable option for families looking for that all-inclusive vibe in a place like Sardinia.


Bagni de Pisa: Kind of like stepping directly into a Wes Anderson film, Bagni di Pisa is another thermal spa located in San Giuliano Terme just outside of Pisa. It’s rumored that Mary Shelley started the manuscript for Frankenstein in the bar here (hence The Shelley Bar), and I kind of understand why: it’s both beautiful and haunting and feels somewhat frozen in time. The 61 rooms (including 11 junior suites and 9 suites) are all enormous and are full-on 18th-century luxe decor. Beds are canopied, bathrooms are marble on marble and all of the public spaces are grand, to say the least. It’s truly like stepping back in time. The thermal spa is very cool, massages and treatments are lovely and the food here is amazing (the pastas, in particular, are not to be missed). Plus, at lunch, you can dine in your spa robe if you like, so that’s something. And when you’re tired of the food on property, Pisa and Lucca (my new fave town) are both just short rides away for great sightseeing, restaurants and shopping.

Grotta Giusti: About 40 minutes from Bagni di Pisa, Grotta Giusti is maybe her younger sister. It’s got a more modern feel (it was totally renovated and just reopened in April 2022.) I loved the rooms here and the slightly more contemporary feel of the interiors. They are on the smaller side and the two Grand Deluxe rooms are definitely the ones to snag - they have large terraces and adjoin, so it’s perfect for families or friends who want their own space. The thermal waters here are also impressive, but the biggest draw is the grotto which lies beneath the hotel and can only be accessed with a special tour that includes a full-on water relaxation situation that I’m not sure I can explain but suffice to say it kind of feels like being back in the womb. The grounds are really gorgeous and in the summer they have a lovely pool and an outdoor bbq and I imagine that adds something special. There are also a number of golf courses nearby. 

Feel free to email me with any specific questions and you can also find photos and site visits in my Insta highlights.

Need to Know

This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to Italy. In need of further inspiration? Check out Cindy La’s guide, Exploring Italy: Positano, Florence, Venice.

Advisor - Pamela Murphy

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Pamela Murphy

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