By Hannah Walhout
July 08, 2020
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This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on March 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.

As European tourist attractions go, Florence is a power player. Ever since Enlightenment-era aristocrats made Florence an essential stop on the Grand Tour, it has consistently ranked among the most visited cities in the world. T+L readers are on the same page. In this year’s World’s Best Awards, Florence was voted the No. 1 city in Europe — beating out other heavy hitters like Lisbon and Barcelona — and claimed the title of No. 5 city in the world.

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

So, where to stay? The city has a wealth of unusual, independently run properties, many of which occupy historic manor homes. A few of these boutique hotels had admirable showings this year, among them the No. 5 J.K. Place Firenze and the No. 3 Brunelleschi Hotel, housed in a building once owned by the Renaissance architect.

“This hotel was superb,” wrote one survey respondent of Brunelleschi Hotel, praising its convenient location in the historic center and its Michelin-starred restaurant, Santa Elisabetta. “And the staff! Everyone, from the concierge and desk staff all the way up to housekeeping, were so friendly and helpful,” said one guest.

But Florence isn’t all indie, all the time. The biggest names in hospitality have all set up shop here, bringing their own style of luxury to the birthplace of the Renaissance. See the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, opened in 2008 in a palazzo a short walk from the center of the city, which claimed the No. 2 spot on the list. “This resort gives you everything,” said one reader, “including two picture-perfect pools.” Another reader raved: “It has immediate access to all this amazing city has to offer, but also acres of gardens and green space so you can feel removed from the hustle and bustle.”

This year’s top property is also an outpost of one of the world’s great hotel brands, set on the banks of the Arno. Read on to find out which property claimed this year’s No. 1 spot on the list of best hotels in Florence.

1. The St. Regis Florence

Credit: Courtesy of The St. Regis Florence

Score: 96.62

More information: marriott.com

Inside a riverside palazzo designed by Florence-born architect Filippo Brunelleschi — who is also responsible for the dome of the city’s Duomo — this luxe property is decked out in full Renaissance style: crystal chandeliers, brocade upholstery, ornate four-poster beds, and era-appropriate wall frescoes abound. Opened in 2011, the hotel mixes these quintessentially Florentine details with the finishing touches that guests have come to expect from St. Regis, including butler service and immaculate dining (in the form of the magical Winter Garden, where chef Gentian Shehi turns out an elevated Tuscan tasting menu). This property has 80 rooms and 19 suites, including the crown jewel Bottega Veneta suite — designed by Tomas Maier, creative director of the iconic Italian fashion brand. One reader noted the St. Regis’s “remarkable charm and elegance,” while another, reminiscing about a trip through Italy a few years ago, remembered it fondly as their favorite hotel in the country. No wonder it was also named No. 5 city hotel in Europe by our readers, and No. 40 in the world.

2. Four Seasons Hotel Firenze

Credit: Courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel Firenze

Score: 94.56

More information: fourseasons.com

3. Brunelleschi Hotel

Credit: Courtesy of Brunelleschi Hotel Florence

Score: 93.58

More information: hotelbrunelleschi.it

4. Belmond Villa San Michele

Credit: Courtesy of Belmond

Score: 92.76

More information: belmond.com 

5. J.K. Place Firenze

Credit: Courtesy of J.K. Place Firenze

Score: 92.30

More information: jkplace.com

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.