Built in the early nineteenth century as a private residence in 1885, Giacomo Mosca of Switzerland transformed Helvetia & Bristol into a hotel, becoming one of the most beloved of the international elite on their Grand Tour.
Now it has seen a recent complete renovation, including 25 new rooms in the former Banco di Roma (Bank of Rome), as a result of the work of interior designer Anouska Hempel, who has brought her signature sleek style – from the hand-bevelled oak parquet floors to the wainscoting, trimmings, silk and velvet curtains, chandeliers and opaline glass, lanterns and cast-iron canopy beds.
These elements were commissioned from and produced by the best Italian artisans, such as Moleria Locchi, the glassmakers of Murano, Rubelli, Antico Setificio Fiorentino, Fiacchini, Anichini and Bronzetto.
The Bristol Wing
A leading name on the international design scene, Anouska Hempel is known for launching the ’boutique hotel concept in London in 1978 and has a mantle filled with accolades and awards, including the prestigious Luxury Lifestyle Award in the Hotel Interior Design category. The Helvetia & Bristol project marks Anouska’s official debut in the Italian hôtellerie sector.
For the creation of the new 25 rooms in the Bristol wing, Hempel has been inspired by the seductive atmospheres of the sumptuous Florentine palaces of the past, reinterpreting the style with contemporary flair.
The neutral colour palette matches the refinement of the furnishing details, including wrought-iron canopy beds made with embroidered fine cotton sheets and comfortable Dorelan mattresses. The large bathrooms, some with Turkish baths and Devon & Devon bathtubs, have vast decorated mirrors, some set in white Carrara marble frames, made in one piece by the skilful hands of Florentine craftsmen.
Meanwhile, the new Cibreo restaurant serves refined modern Italian dishes on the ground level. Florence’s latest spa is set around ancient Roman ruins in the basement, with a seven-stage terme experience based on the Roman bathing style dating back 2000 years.
Helvetia & Bristol
Address: Via dei Pescioni, 2, Florence, 50123
Website: Helvetia & Bristol Florence
Best for: Couples, honeymooners and seasoned travellers looking for discreet luxury.
On the plate: House-made Tagliolini pasta with “Cacio & Butter” and Black Truffle at Cibrèo can’t be beaten.
Spa time: Aquamotus – Over 1200 jets of water generate a sublime massage with varying movements, intensities, and temperatures inspired by the spa culture of the ancient Romans. Add on a body scrub for added intensity.
What’s near: Palazzo Strozzi, Piazza della Repubblica, Duomo is a five-minute walk.