Our recent stay at the Palazzo Niccolini was the most disappointing of all venues on this recent trip to Italy.
From the other reviews on Tripadvisor, and from the hotel's own web-site, we were expecting something special and full of character. In the event, we found a rather tired and dirty accommodation, that was nothing more than a glorified apartment block. This building may have been an historic family home at some time, but it appears that the family have had to sell off various floors and/or rooms over time, leaving them with just part of the second floor. The current owners would appear to have opened it as a hotel, and after some success, decided to acquire some of the other rooms/apartments in the building. Consequently, it is a very disjointed set-up, and moving from reception to our room, or the outside, meant entering a stairwell that was a public area for the whole building - cold, slightly dark, and somewhat trepidatious.
We stayed at the Palazzo for 4 nights, in their 'best' suite, the Duomo room, on the top floor for 3 of those nights, and then a Junior Suite for the last night, as the other room was booked that night. Whilst we were at eye-level with the Duomo, the room itself was no more than a loft, with shabby chic decor. It was roomy enough, but without any historic character at all. The owner's description of 'marble bathrooms' was stretching the impression somewhat. The bathroom was very narrow, and the shower over the bath, very antiquated. The overhead rose didn't work for several days, and the housekeeping staff were ignorant of its correct operation. The access stair, inside the entry door, to the room, was a primitively fabricated stair that was very narrow and steep. Nothing original at all here! The same applied to the wardrobe inside the bedroom - a crudely fashioned space using cheap materials. The old stone access stairs from the ground, or the 2nd floor reception, was shared with other apartment owners, and consequently was not really part of an historic hotel, or really maintained.
The last night in the Junior Suite was somewhat better, with the walls adorned with frescoes as shown on the web-site. At least this room did have the feel of authenticity about it, and the bathroom was much better than the Duomo suite, mostly in marble!
The dining/sitting salon was heavily frescoed. However, these are very faded due to their muted tones. The access door to the kitchen prep area was very much worse for wear, with the frame badly stained from hands, food, etc. The plaster-work was also breaking down, and in need of repair.
Breakfast was adequate for my wife and I (we're relatively light eaters in the morning), but was the least generous or exciting of all the places we stayed during this trip. Whilst I didn't order, it would appear that if cold meats or hot food were required, they could be ordered at a very steep extra cost.
The small staff on hand were very friendly, and certainly try and provide guests with every assistance. They made advance bookings at some of the museums for me, and this was much appreciated.
Overall, this does not compare with any of the other historic homes that I have stayed at in Italy, or other European cities for that matter. Stay at the Four Seasons ro similar for a more authentic experience.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
13 October 2011
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we are sorry to learn you did not enjoy your stay, unfortunately, as much as we would like to, we cannot always satisfy everybody.
If it were for opinions only, we would certainly try to understand the motivations behind them, maybe even try to change them to a certain extent, but otherwise stand back and respect them.
In this case notions are given that are very far from reality and some of them are so personal and peculiar to the Niccolini family that we are wondering where our guest got his information from.
Palazzo Niccolini - the huge building which extends from via dei Servi, around the corner and for a considerable distance into the Duomo square - was never sold to anybody, it has entirely belonged to Marquises Niccolini, the now owners of both the palace and the hotel, and before them to Marquises Naldini – a related family – since the 16th century up to the present day. Marquises Niccolini, Filippo and Ginevra, live in the palace and have decided, a few years ago, to give up some rooms of their house to let other people experience the feeling of staying in an ancient noble house in the center of the city. They are often present at the hotel and definitely participating to the everyday task of rendering (possibly) every guest content.
Other then the hotel, some parts of the palace are rented out to a few respectable private residents. There is therefore no “public” area. The few persons allowed to circulate in the building are well known and considered trustworthy, including the ten room guests from Palazzo Niccolini.
We don’t understand which incident you are referring to when speaking of the shower. It was reported that the guest lamented a non functioning shower set on Saturday morning so a technician was called and obtained (miraculously obtained!) after a couple of hours and the problem was solved.
About the “historic character”: because of its original features such as frescoes and stuccoes, Palazzo Niccolini is considered part of and preserved as Florence historical heritage and, as such, has been renovated in the year 2003 under the supervision of the Italian Superintendence of Cultural Heritage. Whatever that can be admired in the various rooms or in the main salon was created, at the latest, in 1800; scholars and students come from time to time to study some of the palace artworks. We reserve a time for cleaning and restoring frescoes and such each year in low season when trained people can do it without interference.
Each room in Palazzo Niccolini has been thought for and obtained from a specific area of the building and this is why no rooms are alike. In this specific case, our Dome suite is set in the highest tower, on the very top of the palace, from where you can indisputably enjoy one of the best views in town, an almost 360 ° view of the nicest sights: the Duomo cathedral and the square, and San Miniato and Fiesole from afar. Because of its position the space had to be carefully thought out therefore the bathroom might be smaller if compared to the ones in other suites.
We usually would not want to name other properties but we see here the need of pointing out how different we are from the Four Season hotel chain. We are a small, private historical residence, with very few quiet rooms; our goal is to make our guests feel at home while living a genuine Renaissance atmosphere.
We did not succeed in your case and we truly regret it. We hope we will have another chance to make it up to you and we sure hope we will be able to make everyone who stays with us happy and satisfied.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC