Stately, awe-inspiring and evocative of timeless luxury, the Westin Excelsior is redolent of both former glories and continuing luxury, with one eye fixed firmly on the future as its celebrates both its own past and the history of its beloved Florence.
It is ideally located for jaunts into the city centre, while offering every comfort to the weary traveller looking to unwind and recharge. This award-winning hotel, part of the Starwood Hotels chain, is renowned for its staggering glass-walled views, gorgeous panoramas, memorable culinary experiences and superlative service, and draws together businessmen, recreational travellers, presidents and celebrities from all over the world.
Nestled on the banks of the Arno, this architectural cornucopia face directly out on to Florence's famed Piazza Ognissanti and many of its rooms and suites overlook the river and the Oltrarno quarter. It is just a 10-minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio (local parlance for 'Old Bridge') and all the historic delights of the city centre, with easy access to Florentine cafes, Piazza della Signoria and popular shopping streets such as the Via de' Tornabuoni and Via della Vigna Nuova.
It's also superbly situated for art lovers desperate to catch a glimpse of the masterpieces in the Uffizi Gallery and the Bargello Museum. Within 15 minutes on foot, you can reach the enchanting Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, known simply as the Duomo, as well as the Pitti Palace, one of the largest architectural monuments in Florence. The Westin Excelsior is only 550 yards from Santa Maria Novella Train Station, bringing travellers within easy reach of an even broader range of shops, monuments and memorable sights.
When the cityscapes are this special, the most important part of your trip will be the opportunity to gaze on them unimpeded, which is why the Westin Excelsior has spent £2.5million on updating its rooftop bar, restaurant and lounge, allowing visitors to enjoy these unique and iconic views in the very heights of luxury.
The rooftop vistas made possible on the terraces around the 'SE.STO on Arno' are rumoured to be the only ones of their kind available in Florence, offering as they do a 360-degree visual sweep of the city, the Arno and the surrounding hills. One of the two large terraces situated on the top of the hotel is bordered by an infinity pool that seems to be pouring its waters directly into the river below, and the overriding sensation for anyone lucky enough to gaze from these lofty heights is that of floating dreamlike above the picture-postcard Renaissance idyll playing out on all sides: it truly is an unforgettable way to see this most distinctive and captivating of Italian skylines.
The Westin Excelsior is a work of art in its own right - an enchanting building with a beautifully imperial facade and cutting-edge interiors flawlessly paired with traditional Tuscan touches.
Its large lobby is filled with marble detail, and the entrance has all the lavish trappings one might expect, such as sparkling chandeliers, stunning flower displays, gilt detail and walnut furnishings, along with distinctive touches such as Asian rugs and local delights such as Neo-Classical frescoes, thereby crafting a unique combination of worldly elegance and timeless comfort to harmonise with the hotel's innovative and idiosyncratic modern enhancements.
Each of its 171 luxurious guest rooms and suites effortlessly realises this sophisticated Florentine style, with its splashes of burgundy and cream and Italian marble beautifully offsetting the antique-style furnishings, while showing every consideration to the needs of the modern traveller. All Deluxe, Premium Deluxe and Attic rooms are impressively spacious and comfortable, while the suites - including the Belvedere, Grand Deluxe Suite and Presidential - offer incomparable terrace views over the Tuscan hills.
This is a magical hotel experience, giving you the chance to not only observe the thrilling delights of Florence but also to be cocooned in your own personal Renaissance.
Exemplary service is one of this five-star hotel's key strengths, and its diligent and devoted staff aims to please at every turn. A highly qualified concierge reminiscent of Wes Anderson's Gustave H in The Grand Budapest Hotel delivers a highly personalised level of care, providing exceptional assistance in booking guided tours of Tuscany and the Chianti region.
Both concierge and staff help foster the sense of being somewhere truly special. As a family-friendly hotel, the Westin Excelsior provides amenities for all ages, with cribs and highchairs for babies, and age-appropriate activities for school-age children and teens, and from the moment they arrive, younger minds are encouraged to explore and embark on adventures. Meanwhile, older visitors can enjoy their own perks, especially on weekends, as a late 3pm Sunday check-out and extended breakfast hours allow more time to relax and see the sights.
TOP 8 REASONS TO STAY AT THE WESTIN EXCELSIOR
Gorgeous glass-walled restaurant
Fine dining does not come much finer than this: not only are the meals at the celebrated SE.STO on Arno restaurant and bar sumptuous and appetising, but they are also served in surroundings that are sure to take your breath away.
Chef Entiana Osmenzeza offers an inventive selection of dishes for the discerning palate, using fresh seasonal products plus a choice of 300 Italian and international wines.
Art Deco-style bar for delicious cocktails
Located next to the hotel lobby, the ORVM Bar is the perfect place for a light meal or a beautifully prepared cocktail; you're sure to love the Martinez Cocktail, a provocative blend of orange bitters, maraschino liqueur and gin.
With its easy sophistication and old-world glamour, this is a great place to unwind and its diverse Mediterranean menu, conceived by executive chef Giuseppe Della Rosa, is accompanied by the delightful refrains of live music.
Outstanding terraces overlooking Florence
The two spacious terraces that flank the SE.STO on Arno give hotel guests a prime vantage point to take in the city at extraordinary range. If your inclination is to sip an aperitivo and watch the world go by then this is, quite simply, the place to be, and it will reward you with an unsurpassable living snapshot of the rooftops, churches, bell towers and picturesque hills that make up the quintessential Tuscan landscape.
Favourite hotel of famous cultural icons
A string of celebrities, artists, musicians, kings and heads of state have stayed at the Westin Excelsior. It has continuing fascination as a magnet for many stars from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, including Orson Welles, Leonard Bernstein and Franco Zeffirelli as well as the Romanov family, Emperor William II of Prussia, the King of Yugoslavia and Winston Churchill. Today, Hollywood's 'It' crowd continues to flock here to delight in the charms of the top-floor terraces, so you never know who you might end up meeting.
Extravagant meeting spaces
Lavish meeting and banquet rooms are available to cater for up to 180 guests, offering a truly unforgettable location for conventions, business events, cocktail parties, banquets and wedding receptions.
This, coupled with the exceptional service and exemplary renovations and rooftop views, gives the Westin Excelsior unique and compelling status in the heartlands of Florentine culture.
Burn those unwanted calories in the hotel's fitness studio, or exercise at any hour of the day or night in the comfort of your own room: the choice is yours. The Westin Workout gym features equipment from world-class brands to suit all fitness levels, but if you prefer a more private routine you can book a guest room equipped with a treadmill or stationary bike, dumbbells, fitness DVDs, resistance bands and stability balls.
Commitment to environmentally friendly practices
This remarkably eco-sustainable hotel is committed to conserving water, energy and other resources. Its Starwood '30:20 by 20' program aims to reduce the hotel's energy consumption by 30 per cent and its water consumption by 20 per cent by 2020. In an attempt to dynamically shape the bigger picture by encouraging tangible individual efforts, the Westin Excelsior is offering a 5€ restaurant voucher or hotel 'starpoints' for each night its guests decline housekeeping, advocating the benefits of the greener choice.
Personal food shopper
For that extra special culinary touch, the Westin Excelsior offers guests a personal food shopper tour. You can easily find out about Italy's finest authentic foods and exclusive gourmet shops in the company of an insightful and attentive expert who's only too happy to impart local wisdoms and nutritional information.
The Westin places great emphasis on its well-being movement, which strives to provide healthy options to guests in an accessible way, empowering people to make better health choices that can still taste delicious.