Personal and intimate, with uniquely designed rooms and a genuine Florence feel, this discreet pied-à-terre guesthouse made us feel like staying at a relaxed apartment of a stylish, slightly eccentric friend.
Florentine home from home
Casa Howard Florence lacks traditional hotel odds and ends: there’s no concierge, no porter to pick up bags, not even a receptionist.
The idea was to set up a guesthouse that would be the direct opposite of impersonal hotels, where guests are encouraged to feel as though they are invited to a private home.
Owned by the fashion designer Jennifer Howard and entrepreneur Massimiliano Leonardi di Casalino, Casa Howard Florence is set in a historical building in the very heart of Florence.
Casa Howard is filled with an eclectic mix of antiques from the family vaults and objects of modern design—arranged with an emphasis on strong colours and quality fabrics.
A collection of 123 different fabrics was used when decorating—no surprise, given that the owner’s father was a well-known textile designer.
Romantic guest rooms
Size, style and function of Casa Howard’s 13 rooms vary significantly: individually decorated, each has its own particular character. Some rooms retain the original parquet flooring and mantelpieces, some are quirky and fun.
Each has a different ‘target audience’. There is a room for literature lover (The Library Room, with wall-to-wall shelves filled with books in English), another is for guests wishing to bring their dogs (Terrace room); and one of the rooms was designed with young families in mind (Play Room, with a private climbing wall and Disney DVDs).
We liked the Fireplace Room with its enormous bathroom, supplied with Santa Maria Novella bath goodies… and a TV above the clawfoot bathtub.
Another fave is the owners’ smart duplex Studio (only available when they’re away), with a classic spiral staircase, comfy sitting room, kitchenette and patio access.
Italian mod cons
Continuing with the non-hotel concept, the breakfast is served only in the bedrooms and—typically for Italy—is very simple. A freshly squeezed orange juice, a toast with butter and home made jam and honey from the private Tuscan farm, a fresh fruit, excellent coffee or tea in Indian glasses, everything served in Ginori china—that’s about it. Perfect.
Otherwise, Casa Howard offers the regular amenities expected in a good hotel (or a fashionable friend’s house): satellite TV, free wireless internet connection and a Nespresso coffee machine in the communal room as well as advice and recommendations on where to go, shop and eat in Florence.