If overpromising and under delivering were an Olympic event, this place would take the gold medal. The promise: a sumptuous room where luxury has no limit. The delivery: a barely habitable cell missing key amenities. The promise: dedicated service ambassadors who will anticipate your every whim. The delivery: service that is at best inept and often chaotic. The promise: a unique vision of gastronomy rooted in Tuscan cuisine. The delivery: the worst meals of our two week stay in Italy.
Highlights of the disaster:
1. Once we arrived I started to unpack. As experienced travelers know, in order to effectively unpack you need places, such as drawers and cabinets, into which to stuff your stuff. Our room at the Salviatino was devoid of any such places. No chest of drawers. No armoir. Nada, except about two feet of closet hanging space – utterly inadequate for two adults. We had to put our luggage on the floor and pull clothing out of it.
2. The room was supposed to have a private bar. This consisted of a TV tray with bottles of soda and water lined up on it. Hope you like your soda at room temperature. There was no fridge and the ice bucket was never filled. I am sure that if I called eventually someone would turn up with some ice, but I shouldn’t have to ask for ice in a room with this price tag.
3. As I settle into a new hotel room, I enjoy flipping through the guest directory to learn about the hotel facilities and services. There was no guest directory or property map in our room. The reading material in the room consisted of an advertisement for the hotel spa, a (very short) room service menu, and a glossy brochure touting all the expensive stores in Florence. Allegedly there was an electronic hotel directory available through the television, but when I clicked on “Hotel Menu” on the screen all that popped up was advertising copy telling me that the hotel is wonderful. This is not a minor quibble. Without a guest directory, you are flying blind!
4. The doors and door frames in the room were made of a cheap, soft wood with a dark stain for that medieval look. They were splintering. So was the wooden floor.
5. The room was small and dark. The lighting in the room was inadequate: we dressed in gloom. The artwork was ugly.
6. When we arrived a bored looking gentleman was introduced as our service ambassador. He showed us to the room, muttered something about the view, handed us the key, and left. We never saw Mister Service Ambassador again until we departed, when he stood around doing nothing but hoping for a tip. We were told that every service ambassador would stop at nothing to provide us with world-class service. Almost right. Whenever we tried to extract help from a service ambassador, they would not stop. Or even slow down.
7. The bed rested directly on the floor – reminding me of a student dormitory. This memory was reinforced by stains on the bedding.
8. There were tears in the curtains, although the rips were close to the top of the curtains so I think management is hoping that guests won’t notice.
9. The television remote worked only when it was held six inches from the sensor at the bottom of the television screen.
10. As an old building the hotel is full of hidden steps. I tripped over several and almost killed myself at least twice. Could we please illuminate these boobytraps?
11. During our visit the gardens featured more dry, gray dust than foliage or flowers. This meant that you needed to shower every time you walked outside.
On our first night at Il Salviatino My Dearest tried to cheer me up with the prospect of dinner reminding me of the promised gourmet delights rooted in rich Tuscan tradition. My Dearest will regret that mistake for a very, very long time. The meals were the worst we had in Italy, including several truck stop lunches. Here’s how the salami flopped:
1. When we arrived at the restaurant, we were greeted rudely by a young man who accused us of having no reservation – even though I had confirmed our reservation only a few hours earlier. Apparently it was my fault that he had lost our reservation. Helping the young man with his difficult job, I pointed out our reservation clearly written into his book. He was not grateful.
2. You know a restaurant is cutting costs when the fish that appears most often on the menu is salt cod. It featured in two appetizers and one main course.
3. The bread in the bread basket was stale. There was no olive oil on the table. When I asked for some, a thimbleful was drizzled onto the corner of my bread plate. People!!! Even the truck stops in Italy leave a bottle of olive oil on the table!!
4. Our appetizers were messy collections of ingredients that would be thrown together by a sophmoric student chef playing with leftovers. One consisted of charred eggplant slices piled onto a wedge of supermarket quality mozzarella balanced on stale bits of lobster tail floating in a watery tomato sauce.
5. The pasta dishes were awful. A spinach and ricotta ravioli had the mouth feel and taste of microwaved potato dumplings. A pheasant ragout brought back unhappy childhood memories of Hamburger Helper.
6. The after dinner cappuccino consisted of a thin layer of gritty brown water under a mass of watery milk foam. A sprinkle of chocolate or cinnamon on top was out of the question.
7. The flatware was so cheap I could bend it with one hand.
8. My Dearest and I ordered glasses of a very ordinary grappa to remove the taste of this repast from our mouths. The waiter plonked down a different grappa from the one we ordered without permission or explanation. No-one could be bothered to ask if the substitution was agreeable. I have never met a grappa that I did not like – until that meal at Salviatino.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This award winning luxury hotel, located on the rolling hills of Fiesole, offers the most spectacular views of Florence. Accommodations range from the Villa Rooms, the Green House Suites and our Signature Suites. Each offer a very different experience but all have inspiring views of either our private park, the Tuscan landscape or the famous Duomo view of Florence. Guests will enjoy a la carte breakfast, wi-fi, parking, in room movies, in room coffee and tea making facilities and hourly shuttle service (15 minutes) to the center of Florence, all complimentary. Our service philosophy is all about creating unforgettable experiences for our guests in an informal setting. Our guests consider the Hotel, the Villa, their home away from home, a tranquil haven after a day of exploring Florence or the Tuscan countryside. The Spa offers four treatment rooms, each with its own steam shower, and a dedicated team of therapists specializing in aroma therapeutic relaxation and anti-aging treatments, a fitness center with the latest in Technogym equipment and our pools overlooking the Tuscan countryside. Our kitchen is dedicated to locally sourced Italian cuisine and can be enjoyed in either the library or on our terrace overlooking Florence. Innovative, creative and unpretentious. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Il Salviatino Hotel Florence