Taking cues from its fashionpacked setting, Florence’s luxe Hotel Savoy is accessorised with sartorial motifs and Pucci prints.
It’s been more than 24 hours door-to-door but from the moment the bellboy welcomes me to Florence’s luxurious Hotel Savoy I know it’s been worth every tiresome plane, train and customs queue. I am greeted by impossibly chic and charmingly sympathetic Italians who swiftly settle me into a newly updated suite at the famed hotel. In a daze of jetlag I open the windows and realise this cocoon of quiet comfort is actually smack amid the bustling Piazza della Repubblica, epicentre of the city near Brunelleschi’s Dome. Locations don’t get much better than this.
The 19th-century hotel was the most sophisticated of its day, boasting modern amenities such as an elevator, electricity and central heating. The seeds of powerhouse Gucci were sowed in the Savoy London, its Florentine patriarch Guccio – then a lift boy – launching his eponymous brand after keen observation of the hotel’s clientele and their stylish luggage. In a case of art imitating life, I query a guest on the designer of her duffel only to nd she is Olga Polizzi, design director and deputy chair of Rocco Forte, the family-owned bijou hotel group co-founded with her brother.
In a city so culturally rich, Olga says she didn’t want the Savoy’s refurbishment to “be banal by bringing in what everyone can enjoy outside”. So, inspired by the city’s historic relationship with fashion and traditional crafts, she looked to the sartorial for inspiration. In the throes of a “contemporary renaissance”, Olga accessorised the interiors with hat and footwear themes such as Andy Warhol’s artwork of bright high heels, Lisa Milroy’s shoe paintings and photographer Johnnie Shand Kydd’s line-up of interesting shoes. She also called in Laudomia Pucci, daughter of the late couturier and the brand’s image director, to oversee the public spaces. A longtime friend of the Forte family, Laudomia has been a hotel regular for years. “I use [the Savoy] a lot for business, private dining and we have even had some fashion trunk shows there.”
In Pucci’s rst foray into hospitality, soft furnishings and reception chairs have been upholstered in velvet pop ower prints and their iconic ‘Lamborghini’ motif re-coloured in black and pink for the lobby. Integral to the scheme were fuchsia and turquoise scarves that, encased in glass, became tabletops in the outdoor terrace and Irene restaurant. Olga says they bring a “freshness” to the ground oor. “It was fun working together and, of course, apart from art and architecture, Florence is known for its fashion – and nobody knows that better than Pucci.” Florentines through and through, the aristocratic family were advisers to the Medici and the honorary Via de’ Pucci is just around the corner – right by Palazzo Pucci.
Private spaces are more restrained in pastel tones of washed green and taupes. “All our hotels are different and we try to mirror the city they are in. We want them to have a true sense of place,” says Olga who used Tuscan creatives for the interior decoration. “Florence is full of marvellous artisans. You can nd someone to make whatever you need,” she says of wood carvings from Castorina and porcelain from Ceramiche Ceccarelli.
The Pucci aesthetic and the hotel’s grand neoclassical Italianate features may seem an unlikely pairing, but the result is a beautiful balance of the former’s colourful vivacity and Olga’s chic yet restrained pastel scheme. “I always like to include something unusual or surprising,” she says. “Something to make people smile.” roccofortehotels.com