Simply put, one of my most treasured moments in Lyon thus far.
We arrived at Villa Florentine around 3PM via taxi. Being first-time visitors to this gorgeous city, we were not entirely sure what to expect or how to spend the rest of our day. Sitting high in the hills looking down onto the rest of Lyon, the unassuming doorway of Villa Florentine opens to reveal an oasis of quiet luxury. Upon arrival, we were greeted at the door by the friendly man in charge of concierge. He was kind enough to help us with our luggage, and warmly ushered us towards the reception desk. The woman behind the reception desk was very professional, but also very kind. After checking us in, she offered us each a refreshing cocktail and a seat on the lobby terrace where we could appreciate the breathtaking view of the city.
As we sat on the terrace sipping on our drinks and slipping deeper into relaxed state, the assistant manager (I forgot her name, but she was lovely) came over to give us a brief introduction of the hotel and the building's fascinating history as an old convent. The gentleman in charge of concierge also came out to welcome us and to help us answer any questions we had.
From this point on, it just gets better and better.
He brought us a map of Lyon and took the time to painstakingly explain the layout of the city, marking where the hotel was on the map, and marking a potential route of exploration through the city center and back to the hotel. We were extremely appreciative of the fact that he mentioned the cable car that takes you from the St. Jean stop to the top of the hill near the Basilica. From there, you can walk downhill through the winding tree-lined paths hidden within the gardens below the Basilica. At the bottom of that hill is the street the hotel is on. You just take a left, walk two mini blocks and you are back at Villa Florentine. Brilliant.
The suite we were given had the most tremendous views. I really don't need to say much here other than it was immaculately clean and everything was provided for, including a pair of dishes and cutlery for those midnight noshes. I wouldn't be surprised if someone stated that the decor was a tad dated, but to me it suited the historical feeling of the establishment. Everything was incredibly comfortable, and the best part was the automated blackout curtains.
We left the room to start our foray into Lyon, and were met by the hotel's manager, Jerome. Jerome was the shining star of our visit. Everything and everyone else came close, but Jerome was the highlight of our stay. He greeted us warmly, introduced himself, and told us to contact him whenever we needed anything. When we asked for his advice on where to buy gourmet foods and to dine that night, he recommended which patisserie to buy delicious cakes from and also suggested a local dining establishment that was suited to our specifications. When we finally made it to dinner around 10 PM, we sat down only to have Jerome suddenly pop over our shoulder to say hello and to chat! It turns out he was grabbing a bite there as well after his workday. Let me just say, his dinner recommendation was highly successful. Best meal ever! The quenelle nantua I had was heavenly. We ate so much of everything that we could barely make it back up the 200+ steps to the hotel (Yes, we kept count so that we wouldn't notice our full bellies straining over our belts). It didn't take that long, about 15 mins to get back up. I love that the neighborhood on the mountainside is dotted with these steep staircases. So many hidden gems!
After dinner, we had a midnight dip in the pool and the hot tub. Views of the glittering city and rivers below while soaking in the hot tub cannot be beat. A major plus for me-- I love being able to go to the pool whenever I want to.
Overall, the entire stay was a huge success. Jerome and his staff are wonderful and very gregarious when engaged. We were pretty demanding customers... not the kind that like to complain and whine over the small stuff, but we were constantly in and out of the room asking them for recommendations and help (Can we call a taxi? Can we print something out at the front desk? Can we have a bottle of wine chilled for us? Does this restaurant serve duck?). They never missed a step.
Also, it was really fortuitous that there were no families with children there during our stay. A kid once ruined the gourmet breakfast spread at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo by running around touching all of the food with his hands. WHEW!
If you go to Lyon and have a chance to stay at the Villa Florentine, you simply must!
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- Also Known As:
- Villa Florentine Hotel Lyon
- Florentine Hotel Lyon