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“Disappointing drop in standards”

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Casa Howard Guest House
Ranked #68 of 657 Florence B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 17 May 2014

This was my fifth visit to Casa Howard, which is a beautifully designed set of rooms near the train station and next door to the wonderful Officina Farmacia Santa Maria Novella.

The rooms are all different and I have had enjoyable days before in the Drawing Room, Library, Fireplace Room and my favourite, the Owner's studio. I have always had excellent service and love the location and aesthetic. This time I booked and prepaid for the Fireplace Room - a lovely room to share, with both a free standing bathtub and a walk in shower. As it was my fifth visit I was told I would receive complimentary breakfast.

On arrival, the first thing I noticed was a rather funky smell in the downstairs lobby area which I had never noticed on previous stays. Once inside the hotel the smell was diminished but it was still a little off-putting every time we returned to the hotel.

I was greeted by one of the two Filipina housekeepers - she tried to charge me again for the rooms and was quite put out when I showed her the confirmation email acknowledging full pre-payment. She then offered me breakfast at 8 euros per night. Again I was able to dig out an email confirming that it was complimentary. And on being shown, somewhat brusquely into the room, I had to dig out my blackberry again to prove that I had asked for twin beds.

Being proved wrong didn't help her mood but her blatant surliness (we didn't get a smile or a civil word from her for the rest of our five night stay) didn't live up to the promises I had made my guest about the excellence of the establishment.

After some rather derogatory and insulting grumbling to her colleague which I only understood in part - my Tagalog being a little haphazard - the initial hiccups were glossed over without apology. Thereafter whenever possible I tried to deal with Mina, who we dubbed "Smily", rather than her colleague "Surly".

Breakfast was actually very good by Continental standards with fresh fruit, yoghurt, a rather sweet croissant, toast, honey, butter and Nespresso coffee with warm milk. On one day when there was no yoghurt it was replaced with a perfectly soft boiled egg. We supplemented it with some sliced salumi and cheeses from the central market and it made a lovely start to each day.

The only issue is that each day you have to write in a logbook the time you want your breakfast the next day. One day we were doing a day trip to Sienna and San Gimignano, so the book was not out when we left at 8:30am. And by the time we got back at about 10:30pm I forgot. I remembered the next day at 6:00am when I heard movement in the pantry next to our room - I am a light sleeper - and I got up to find Surly setting out three breakfast trays. I asked if it was too late to order for 8:00am. I was told that two of the trays she was preparing were for 8:00am so I could have it at 9:00am. (We had had breakfast for the first three days at 8:00am each morning).

Now I said the breakfast was good but it was hardly Heston Blumenthal and cutting up and apple wasn't likely to take an hour. But I wasn't Surly's favourite person so I left it.

Maybe three stars is harsh. I got what I ordered eventually though I had to fight for it. And the apartments are as pretty as they always have been and in the same excellent location.

Perhaps if I had not had such good service on my previous stays, and if the lobby had not smelled like a street sleeper was living in it, I would have given five stars. But I could not in all conscience say that this stay was very good. The apartments are not cheap and in the circumstances it is things like cleanliness and service which make the difference between an okay stay and something better.

I will be looking other options next time I visit Florence.

Stayed: April 2014, travelled with family
4  Thank MissT_HongKong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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130 - 136 of 502 reviews

Reviewed 3 May 2014

I booked the Hidden Room for my husband and I for a 3 night stay in April.

The two lovely ladies that takes care of the place were very pleasant and very helpful with everything we needed. The room was extremely tiny with barely any space to store or open up your bags. This was a mission and we actually couldnt wait to leave Venice because it was a rather uncomfortable and unpractical room.

The shower and sunken tub was in the bedroom, the shower had a wooden flooring which is so uncomfortable under the foot, my shower time was rather fast due to this, the sunken tub was right next to the shower and directly in front of the bed, the water temperature was not warm enough to even fill up the tub and enjoy this feature of the room.

The TV was situated behind the tub and on the floor, we couldn't even see the TV from the bed. The toilet was situated as soon as you enter the room on the left, again very tiny and the only mirror situated in the room was in the toilet. Poor lighting in the toilet as well.

Advice to travelers, if you have big luggage or like space, DO NOT choose this room, you will be claustrophobic during your entire stay. Not worth the price we paid.

Room Tip: Choose a bigger room if you have luggage
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  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled as a couple
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Thank Keshnee H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 April 2014

We picked Casa Howard be coz of its location. Walking distant to/from Firenze SMN station,don't wanna find the hotel hardly with heavy luggage always. However,10-15 mins to get there but still takes time to find exactly it is. Guest house is on the second floor of a building,it s a little difficult to it find out if u forgot to take a look of their front door pictures...

My husband n I were stay for 2days in a twin room left which is tiny(12 inches from the toilet) but in well decoration.

We both like the location of Casa Howard which is convenient to visit Firenze but room is too small for the price that I paid.

Stayed: June 2013, travelled as a couple
Thank akaJess
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 April 2014 via mobile

We were 2pax and we stayed in the Drawing Room which could really sleep 4pax or a couple with 2kids. We chose it because the pictures showed a beautiful and elegant room. It was indeed. Very very spacious open concept room. 2 large
beds and a living room space.
Wardrobe and vanity area space is a little small, although there are many drawer spaces and small cupboards in the apartment. There is 1 toilet and 1 separate shower area. Very clean apartment. The 2 ladies who take care of Casa Howard are very nice and helpful. There is a lift in Casa Howard too.There is no parking at the apartment tho.
One thing that bothered us was the loud slamming sound you will hear through the walls and floors whenever someone goes in and out of the main gate and door at L1. And it does occur any time through the night. And if you take the first floor room, then get ear plugs.

You could get in-room bfast served at your preferred timing at an extra cost or you could go to the many cafes and restaurants along the same street.
There is also Halal food across the street called The Grill Restaurant which serves kebab, briyani, rice dishes. We had meals there too and it was good. €8 per pax on average. The restaurant does not serve alcohol.

We love Casa Howard for its very convenient and accessible location, its proximity to food and its beautiful rooms. Oh the sign 'Casa Howard' is a small plaque on the wall. A more prominent sign would be helpful esp if one arrives at night. Anw, use your phone's google map, it will locate it precisely ;)

  • Stayed: April 2014
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1  Thank vintageroses
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 January 2014

If you are lucky enough to have one of the 8 rooms in the guest house. The staff are so generous with their attention to detail and their ability to accommodate our requests. It is a very special place and this is because of the wonderful people who are taking care of you during the visit.
Amazing service.

  • Stayed: December 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank wendy o
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 December 2013

Casa Howard is a gem. As they remind guests, Casa Howard is not a hotel. It's a guest house that would be most appreciated by those who place a premium on design and discreet service. Travellers needing the full scope of hotel services (bellmen, restaurants, a large staff, etc) may want to look elsewhere. But independent travellers looking for a well-situated, apartment-like setting should strongly consider Casa Howard.

A few experiences stand out from my stay. First, the Hammam (Turkish steam bath) down the hallway from my room was an absolute delight, and such a departure from an ordinary hotel experience. The staff were helpful and courteous, and provided expert guidance on restaurants, directions, and the like when needed. A lovely sitting room with espresso and free internet access was a welcome service.

I can't say enough good things about this hotel and its sister properties in Rome (via Sistina and via Capo le Case). I look forward to future repeat visits to the Casa Howard guest houses in both cities.

Room Tip: The Casa Howard web site offers periodic specials (advance booking discounts, etc). We stayed in th...
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  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Colin T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 November 2013

If you are looking for something special for your trip in Florence, check this place. It's not a hotel (as they mention on their web page), but it's much more. We loved our staying there and we will go back one day, if possible.

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Heidi323232
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Casa Howard Guest House

Address: Via della Scala,18 Black, 50123, Florence, Italy
Region: Italy > Tuscany > Province of Florence > Florence > Santa Maria Novella
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Room Service Suites Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #68 of 657 B&Bs / Inns in Florence
Price Range: £55 - £155 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Casa Howard Guest House 3.5*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Welcome to our Guest House - Casa Howard is neither a hotel nor a B&B. As the door will open, you will step into an eccentric guest house that will make you feel at home and will inevitably capture your heart. The Guest House is a large family house that is only partially used as such. Each room recreates a different setting, where the well-finished details emphasize the experience for the traveller. Casa Howard is the perfect alcove for couples who dream of a romantic retreat, as well as the most comfortable solution for families travelling with children or domestic animals. Choose one of the rooms with a view and seize all the emotions that transpire while looking at the rooftops of the Renaissance neighbourhoods. A stay in Florence has never been more emotional, sophisticated and enchanting. You will be given the house keys, and you will be able to live the city as local inhabitant. You will realise that this Guest House is the ideal starting point to discover the wonders of the city centre. Its location is at a walking distance from Santa Maria Novella and from many other major touristic sites, such as the David of Michelangelo (at the Galleria dell’Accademia), the San Frediano borough, the Mercato di S.Ambrogio and of San Lorenzo. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Casa Howard Guest Houses Hotel Florence

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