Flight Review: Singapore Airlines A350 Business Class SIN-FCO
Hotel Review: Le Meridien Visconti Rome
Hotel Review: The St. Regis Florence
Hotel Review: Four Points by Sheraton Milan Center
Hotel Review: The Met Hotel, Thessaloniki
Lounge Review: Aegean Lounge Thessaloniki
Hotel Review: Sofia Hotel Balkan
Flight Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class SOF-IST
Flight Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class IST-SIN
After a nightmarish experience with the Italian trains, I arrived in Florence, the heart of the European Renaissance.
The horror was a result of the unexpected snow in Rome as mentioned in the previous Le Meridien review.
The worst part of the ordeal was that the train was scheduled to depart from Roma Termini Station and was moved to Roma Tiburtina without an alert.
The queue for assistance at Roma Termini was like a snake and much time was wasted waiting.
When it was finally my turn and I was told of the change in station, only 20mins remained to make my way to Roma Tiburtina! Panicking, I made my way there and then spent the next 2 hours waiting for the delayed train. Sigh.
A very bad start to Florence indeed.
The St Regis is located about 1 km from the Firenze SMN train station next to the river Arno which I have heard of repeatedly.
It is mentioned in the famous soprano aria ‘O mio babbino caro‘, with my fave version by Victoria de Los Angeles, in which the soprano threatens to kill herself by throwing herself into the Arno. If she doesn’t get to marry the guy she loves.
Using GPS, I walked from the train station to the hotel with ease.
Upon arrival at the hotel, I was escorted to the front desk for checking in. There was always someone at the front entrance to greet and help guests.
Checking in was done sitting down, and I was told that as a Platinum guest I would get free breakfast.
That didn’t actually matter to me as I managed to get a BRG for this stay which included breakfast. The rate was reduced from almost 500euros per night to about 300euros per night after the discount.
That’s a reduction of more than 30%!
Still a substantial price.
I was also told I had been upgraded to a Junior Suite with a view of the Arno.
Adjacent to the front desk was a rest area and the Concierge on another side.
The room key was an electronic tab attached to a tassel, and was to be deposited at the Concierge before leaving the hotel.
The tassel reminded me of my stay at the Gritti Palace in Venice, and the key also had to be deposited at the Concierge as well.
Is it an Italian thing?
On the way to the suite, the staff showed me the spa, a reading area and the dining hall.
As we approached the suite, I noticed the rooms were all named after a place in Florence.
The Junior Suite wasn’t very big (Well, it is a Junior Suite), but had a nice balcony outside. However, to access the balcony, one must call for assistance to unlock the doors.
After resting and freshening up, I left the hotel to explore the city. The Duomo is located a short walk away and the Ponte Vecchio a couple of bridges along the Arno.
I managed to catch a bit of snow during my stay as well, with the city looking a little different.
My best experience with the hotel is probably the breakfast.
There was never any crowd, the food gets replenished and the drinks are great.
In fact, the food almost always looks untouched because the staff replaces and rearranges the display all the time.
The staff were eager to refill my cappuccino and I lost count of the number of cups I had.
Drinking that much of coffee would invariably mean I had to visit the toilet.
The restaurant staff showed me the way to the toilet which located on another floor.
Entire mornings were spent at breakfast, sipping cappuccinos and enjoying the splendor of the restaurant.
Be sure to ask for a table at the balcony overlooking the dining hall.
I took a look at the in-room dining menu and it didn’t seem too expensive relative to the room rate.
Looking at the menu, I’m not sure children would want to eat Micky and Donald.
I had always thought about the sewing kit provided by the luxury hotels.
This time I finally found the kit useful when one of my buttons came loose.
On the day of departure, my train to Milan was at night and the hotel gave me the usual 4pm late checkout without offering a further extension.
It would have been nice to be able to stay in the room longer, but perhaps too much to ask for.
It was raining when I was leaving and I witnessed the staff helping the guests to and from their vehicles. This is probably one of the big differences in service in contrast to a normal hotel.
It was a great stay and I totally enjoyed the breakfast service.
Once again, I wonder if the Concierge could remember which room each guest stays to return the right key.
The room rate is really quite substantial, and considering the upcoming changes to the SPG program, I may never be back here.
Happy and Healthy Travels!