Hotel La Gemma, A Luxury Hotel in Florence

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Hotel La Gemma is a recent arrival on Florence’s five-star hotel scene. Here’s what to expect when you stay at this luxury hotel in Florence.

Arriving at Hotel La Gemma, a Luxury Hotel in Florence

It had taken me almost six hours by train to get to Florence, the City of Lilies, from the pretty Swiss lake resort of Lugano. By the time I’d waited for a taxi outside Florence’s railway terminal in 90-degree heat and arrived at Hotel La Gemma, I’d wilted like a sad example of the city’s floral namesake.

Hot tip: Don’t leave it too late to book a hotel shuttle pick-up, as I did. Or you’ll have to make your own way to Hotel La Gemma.

I’m a robust sort of flower, as it turned out. As soon as I stepped onto the cobblestones of Via dei Cavalieri and made my way through Hotel La Gemma’s sleek entrance, I felt revived. The cool air-conditioning of the marble-floored lobby helped. As did the cheery greeting at reception and the welcome invitation from the staff to take my heavy suitcase.

The clincher, however, was being ushered to the hotel’s lounge to order a cocktail from the bar’s mixologist. Within minutes, I was sipping an Aperol spritz while seated on a plush emerald couch, coddled in muted light and the calming aesthetic of stone-topped tables, blush cushions, and tall potted plants.

Such was the transformative power of La Gemma’s thoughtful design and five-star service.

La Gemma Hotel, A Luxury Hotel in Florence from Jacqui Gibson on Vimeo.

Stay in the Heart of Florence

Set within Palazzo Paoletti, a handsome five-story palace built in 1895, La Gemma is just around the corner from Piazza della Repubblica and Florence’s UNESCO-protected world heritage hub. During my three-night stay, I walked everywhere from its convenient central location.

I rose early one morning to beat the tour groups and take in the polychrome marble panels of the Duomo di Firenze, Florence’s celebrated cathedral.

Florence skyline from Piazzale Michelangelo. Photo by Jacqui Gibson

I wandered in and out of the city’s labyrinth of tightly packed lanes past shrines, shops, cafés, and churches daily. One afternoon, I grabbed my sunhat and went to the Ponte Vecchio to browse Florence’s jewelry quarter spanning the Arno River.

I spent another afternoon gazing at the terracotta cityscape from a hilltop square called Piazzale Michelangelo. And then another sipping rosé from Hotel Lucchesi’s rooftop bar.

At night, I ate gelato, perusing the outdoor leather markets. It was the first time I’d stayed in the heart of Florence, and I’d do so again.

Gelato should be part of every visitor’s trip to Florence. Photo courtesy Municipality of Florence

My Luxury Hotel Suite

My spacious 150-square-foot room on the fifth floor was a home away from home. La Gemma has 39 rooms, suites, and apartments ranging in size from the 215-square-foot signature rooms priced at around $450 per night. Larger rooms like mine, a prestige suite, start from around $1,000 per night.

One of Hotel La Gemma’s luxury hotel suites in Florence, Italy. Photo courtesy Hotel La Gemma

One thing you’ll notice about La Gemma is the decor. Vibrant greens, soft pinks, and gentle pearl hues are consistently applied to every room in homage to the nearby Duomo. Warmth and interest are achieved throughout the luxury hotel with unique details.

Think: Art Deco patterning, glamorous marble, and mirrored surfaces. Other elements include brass fixtures, black-and-white photography, and deep-set backlit shelves.

Hotel La Gemma is a luxury hotel in Florence with beautifully styled bathrooms. Photo courtesy Hotel La Gemma

My room, accessed via an elevator and forest-green stairwell, felt like an airy tropical sanctuary. Feature walls decorated with palm fronds lent a playful ambiance to the suite. Beside a handwritten note, a beautiful book detailed recipes of the region alongside a vase of fresh white roses and a box of chocolates.

Hotel La Gemma roses: another perfect touch at this luxury hotel in Florence. Photo by Jacqui Gibson

Lounge, Bathroom, and kitchenette

There was a lounge for entertaining guests and a separate bedroom featuring a king-sized bed, side tables, a wardrobe, and a desk. The large tiled bathroom was stocked with gorgeous bath products called Votary, which smelled of rosemary.

Hotel La Gemma’s aromatic toiletries include a body lotion, shower gel, shampoo and conditioner. Photo courtesy Hotel La Gemma

Meanwhile, the mini bar included Japanese whisky, coconut rum liquor, and jars of sweet and savory snacks. The kitchenette had an Italian-made Faber espresso maker that I made good use of during my stay. My favorite feature, however, was the freestanding bathtub.

The outdoor patio terrace, from which you could hear the vibrant hum of the city and enjoy a peek at the sky, came a close second. This was the sort of room you could easily spend a week in—or maybe a lifetime.

Fine Dining at Luca’s

The hotel’s high-quality service was fully displayed at Luca’s Restaurant on the first floor. Warmly welcomed on arrival, then shown to a beautifully presented table within the main dining room, I enjoyed attentive service throughout the 10-course meal.

Dishes such as the lobster risotto (served with pumpkin, fresh nduja, and nasturtium) came with excellent tutelage on how to express my pleasure at chef Paulo Airaudo’s classic Tuscan flavors. “Delizioso!” I was told if I wanted to use the language of the land.

Drinks from the in-house wine list were paired cleverly with tasting dishes like pigeon Cappelletti. A finale of petit fours completed a perfect meal.

Hotel La Gemma also serves breakfast from Luca’s on the first floor. Photo by Jacqui Gibson

An Art and Museum Tour of Florence

I love a guided tour. They’re a great way to get to know a place, particularly in cities steeped in heritage and culture like Florence.

La Gemma’s activity list featured everything from a heli tour of the Tuscan countryside to pasta making to a personal shopping tour. I ended up with a shortlist of two possible tours.

Very tempted by the private tour of local perfumeries, I finally opted for the art and museum walk with Isabella Pellegrini, a qualified tour guide. It was a great choice.

The Value of a Personal Tour Guide

Around 9 am, we started making our way to the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze. Our goal was to see the largest collection of sculptures by Renaissance artist Michelangelo. Inside, Isabella would line up an artwork and slowly guide me towards it.

Every few minutes, we’d stop so she could quietly impart interesting facts in my ear as she scanned the jam-packed room for the next best viewing and talking space.

And so it went.

Michelangelo’s Statue of David

Viewing Michelangelo’s statue of David (positioned at the back of the gallery) provided an excellent example of her technique. When I arrived at his feet and gazed up at his 14-foot form, I knew Michelangelo’s inspiration for the artwork (i.e., the Biblical hero, David). I could also tell you the marble statue was initially commissioned to appear high up on the exterior face of the Duomo.

These were the details I mulled over as I slowly examined the famous sculptor’s handiwork up close. I liked that we never pushed or jostled for position despite the crowds. We moved forward like checkers on a checkerboard, waiting for an opportunity to hone in on our target artwork as the crowds eventually cleared.

It’s a strategy Isabella used for all six busy destinations on the tour, including the Uffizi Galleries. The experience reminded me how enormously valuable it is to see popular tourist hotspots with your guide.

A highlight of any trip to Florence is a visit to the Uffizi Galleries with a knowledgeable guide. Photo by Jacqui Gibson

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Hotel La Gemma’s Backstory

Selecting a locally owned and run hotel can be an important criterion for any overseas vacation. Hotel La Gemma is every bit the local success story.

The Cecchi family, whose interests are in fashion, art, design, and architecture, are behind its arrival on the city’s luxury hotel scene. The hotel’s very name combines the initials of the Cecchi family. (Parents Luca, Alessandra, and their five children Ginevra, Edoardo, Massimiliano, Maria Sole, and Andrea).

La Gemma’s restaurant, Luca, refers to the family’s late patriarch, Luca Cecchi, and his love of fine dining.

So, if you’re looking for a top-rated luxury hotel in Florence with a family backstory, you’ve found it in Hotel La Gemma.


Hotel La Gemma, A Luxury Hotel in Florence