The Lifestyle team at Portrait Firenze wants to know my favorite fruits. They would also like to know what temperature I prefer my room, if I prefer still or sparkling, and what kind of sheets would I like on my bed. This is all pertinent information to the team, who has sent me a pre-arrival questionnaire that feels more like the coolest new app than a boring old form.
It begins with this dialogue, a series of non-invasive questions that allow the team to get to know my likes and dislikes, the small touches that only I would appreciate, which simultaneously suggest the things that might rub me the wrong way.
Upon physical arrival, I am invited into the gorgeously decorated sitting room, a tribute to the 1950s and 1960s decorated by Florentine interiors genius Michele Bonan. I eye the beautiful coffee table books and the ‘Mad Men’ era furniture. I feel as though I am in Don Draper’s Fifth Avenue apartment, with just a little SoHo mixed in.
Instead of checking in at a stately desk which physically and mentally divides me from the individuals who intend to make my stay incredible, we sit down together on the velvet sofa. We review the details of the stay, any reservations that had been made previous to my arrival, any additional requests, etc. A new generation of professionalism offers impeccable service at Portrait; there doesn’t seem to be anyone over the age of forty, which further underlines the freshness and distinctiveness of this brand. One need not wear a tailcoat to offer superlative five star service, in fact one is rather chic and distinguished in head-to-toe Ferragamo.
I am given a Lungarno Collection card which entitles me to 10% discounts at each of the dining establishments, the Ferragamo boutique, and free access to the Ferragamo museum. It is explained to me that there is a wealth of information and helpful lists (restaurants, shopping, museums) uploaded on the iPad in my room. The team is constantly researching the town’s offerings, regularly going incognito at Florentine restaurants to ensure that they are constantly recommending quality to their guests. I have that lighter than air feeling that one receives after settling into a spa day. In fact, I am aware of course that I am in a world far superior to that of my apartment, but I also feel quite far from a ‘hotel’ in all sentimental sense of the word. Let’s just say, there is nothing standard about the Portrait experience.
My suite is about five times larger than many Manhattan apartments, with an entryway, a fully-equipped but handsomely and cleverly hidden kitchen, complete with anything one might need for entertaining or otherwise staying in and playing house, beautiful moldings and architectural trim, and a terrace that walks the length of both the bedroom and living room. This exceptional square footage goes along with the fact that Portrait Firenze has one of the most coveted addresses in Florence, overlooking the River Arno and five steps from the Ponte Vecchio. One of my favorite features is the surround sound Bluetooth which I immediately connect to my Spotify. I put Domenico and Frank on repeat and am feeling quite at home with the Dolce Vita vibe.
I cannot decide which room to place myself in; I feel rather like Mr. Bean, constantly getting up out of my seat and changing locales. The terrace is so close to the Ponte Vecchio you can practically do your jewelry shopping at Fratelli Piccini without leaving the room. I intend to soak up this gorgeous Florentine day from the comfort of my balcony, and I ask the restaurant to send up a little bit of fruit for a mid-afternoon snack. Up comes the most extravagant offering ever did I see. Ask and you will receive; here is a fruit plate for a Princess and her entourage.
My suite has a distinct Chanel lilt, and many of my coffee table books are devoted to her and her footprint on fashion. On my first evening, I curl up in one of the houndstooth blankets and find myself actually reading (yes, full pages) about Coco. Once again, that sneaky sense of peace has whirled its way into my Portrait experience.
This is the kind of suite you never want to leave, just as Gabrielle never left Royallieu.
I had forgotten that I had mentioned my nightly chamomile tea in my pre-arrival questionnaire. One evening I return from an outing, and my personal Lifestyle Assistant inquires whether I might be needing my chamomile soon. My eyes dart around. ‘Can they read my mind?’ I decide to take my dinner in my room, as I am tired and secretly looking forward to spending more time on my velvet sofa with Coco. I call down to Caffe dell’Oro, the chic bistrot designed by Michele Bonan with a menu designed by the Lungarno Collection’s Michelin-starred chef from Borgo San Jacopo across the river. All I want is spinach and quinoa, and when my supper arrives, one of the many handsome staff dress my coffee table as if I have been transported to the restaurant: white table cloth, all accoutrements, flowers, and my still water that I had specified in my questionnaire. Of course, afterwards, there is also the chamomile.
The next morning, while I know that the breakfast spread at Caffe dell’Oro is among the most ravishing in all of Tuscany, I cannot bear to part with my suite. Porridge, fresh berries, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, espresso macchiato, local Tuscan honey, and more flowers are wheeled into my room. Hours later, half asleep on the terrace, enraptured in the surround sound bluetooth, and eyes aglow in the colorful reflections of the River Arno, I receive a call from the team downstairs. Might I be needing assistance with my bag? Apparently I was so wrapped up in my suite, mentally and physically, I had forgotten to leave.
Portrait Firenze is one of the five member hotels of the Lungarno Collection, and one of the two Portrait properties in Italy. If you run out of time at Portrait Firenze as I did, hop on the next train south and check in to Portrait Roma.