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Hotel Highlights

  • Architect-designed factory reinvention
  • Beautiful, peaceful riverside setting
  • Hip-hotel style with homely family warmth

Overview

Part rustic bed and breakfast, part architect’s dream, Riva Lofts hotel is a welcoming rural property just 15-minutes from downtown Florence. Owned by architect Claudio Nardi and his hotelier daughter, this homestead places contemporary art next to oversize antique mirrors leaning against reclaimed stone walls. Vintage Louis XIV chairs and Mies van der Rohe pieces reveal a sophisticated eye for fashion, but Riva Lofts remains a refreshingly unpretentious retreat.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Riva Lofts with us:

A bottle of Tuscan wine

Facilities

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Riva Lofts - Florence - Italy

Need To Know

Rooms

10 suites.

Check–out

Midday; later check-out can be arranged, if available. Check-in is from 3pm to 8pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $271.61 (€205), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.00 per person per night on check-out.

More details

Rates include Italian breakfast and soft drinks.

Also

Owner/manager Alice Nardi (daughter of the hotel’s designer and architect, Claudio) is almost always on hand to offer restaurant tips or pointers on art exhibitions and events that outsiders might miss. Riva Lofts also has a partnership with Armilla Beauty, so you can order in face and body treatments, massage and hairdressing whenever you like.

At the hotel

Communal sitting room LCD TV, DVD/CD player, library of books, films and music, free WiFi in lounge area and some other parts of the hotel. In suites: flatscreen TV, DVD/CD player; most suites have kitchenettes and free WiFi.

Our favourite rooms

For sheer size and spectacle, make a swift beeline for Room 4 – it’s bigger than a small flat, has three walls of floor-to-ceiling glass windows gazing out over the Arno, and its stunning grey wood kitchen is designed to be almost invisible when not in use. Upstairs, you’re met with polished concrete floors, over-sized ball lamps and a dangerously comfortable bed. Room 9 shares the same spaciousness, but cultivates a slightly less arch-contemporary prettiness, and Room 7 has a quirky string curtain surrounding the bed, which lends it the air of an ultramodern, but nonetheless romantic boudoir.

Poolside

Contrary to impressions, the heated ‘metaphysical swimming pool’ does actually exist – it’s a plush white sandstone pool set in a serene hedgerow-lined garden.

Packing tips

Huge D&G sunglasses will not only lend you the in-crowd stamp of cool, but also help keep the flies out of your eyes as you zoom along the river on one of Riva Loft’s 1950s bikes.

Also

Small, well-behaved, non-sofa-soiling pets are welcome. Reception is open 8am –8pm, but arrangements can be made for later arrivals. The hotel is non-smoking throughout. A two-night minimum stay is required during Pitti fashion fairs.

Children

Rollaway beds cost €50 a day, but cribs are free and there’s no charge for children staying in parents’ rooms. With two days’ notice, babysitting can be arranged for around €15 an hour.

Food & Drink

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Riva Lofts - Florence - Italy

Hotel Restaurant

No lunch or dinner, just a mouthwatering Italian breakfast spread of home-made bread, croissants, organic yoghurt, and muesli, served either outside by the pool or beside the modern fireplace in the stone-walled, art-lined lounge.

Hotel Bar

With every hand-picked sculpture and artwork perfectly placed to ensure there’s something to look at in every direction, Riva Loft’s main lounge is made for sinking into a sofa and supping a cocktail from the self-service honesty bar.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Quirked-up elegance.

Top table

On the green, green grass by the pool.

Local Guide

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Riva Lofts - Florence - Italy
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

Since the 19th century, the long tables at Trattoria Sostanza at Via Porcellana 25r, near Santa Maria Novella in Florence (+39 055 212 691) have been tempting locals to squeeze in next to each other to enjoy hearty servings of the region’s tasty cuisine. Start with a simple Tuscan classic such as pasta in sauce or a beany peasant soup, then plump for a typical Florentine basic-but-delicious main course. Petti di pollo al burro is a house favourite – chicken breasts fried in butter. Laidback and beloved by those in the know.

Local bars

Music and art are at the heart of the bar, Dolce Vita at Piazza del Carmine, 6r in Florence (+39 055 284 595). And with cocktail service all day, surely Fellini would approve?

 

 

+ Enlarge
Leafy Arno riverside

Riva Lofts

Via Baccio Bandinelli 98, Florence, Italy, 50142

Planes

Riva Lofts is just 15 minutes by taxi from Florence (Amerigo Vespucci, or Peretola) Airport, but you’ll have a greater choice of airlines from the UK if you fly to Pisa (Galileo Galilei) Airport. There’s a direct train from Pisa Airport to Santa Maria Novella train station in the centre of Florence, and then it’s just a short taxi drive to Riva Lofts (around €10).

Trains

Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station (which can be found centrally, behind the piazza of the same name) is a 15-minute drive from Riva Lofts. The busy station offers connections with the rest of Italy and Europe; you can get to Rome and back in a day, and it takes less than three hours to get to Milan.

Automobiles

This idyllic retreat is 40 minutes’ walk from the bustle of central Florence, but you can book taxis at reception, and for the ultimate in two-wheeled style, hire one of the hotel’s vintage bicycles for free. A car will be useful if you plan to venture further afield in surrounding Tuscany; pick one up at the airport, and park for free at Riva Lofts.

Reviews

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Riva Lofts - Florence - Italy

Anonymous review

by David Annand , Model editor

It was as I reclined in the garden of the Riva Lofts in Florence listening to the light wind lazily loosen the leaves, sipping on my coffee and watching the spring sun lighten the curls of a similarly reposed Mrs Smith that I recalled the great cultural sermon delivered by Orson Welles’ peerless antihero Harry Lime in The Third Man. ‘In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had w…
Read more

Riva Lofts

Anonymous review by David Annand, Model editor

It was as I reclined in the garden of the Riva Lofts in Florence listening to the light wind lazily loosen the leaves, sipping on my coffee and watching the spring sun lighten the curls of a similarly reposed Mrs Smith that I recalled the great cultural sermon delivered by Orson Welles’ peerless antihero Harry Lime in The Third Man. ‘In Italy, for 30 years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.’ Having spent the previous day marvelling at the many wonders of Santa Croce, I found myself silently giving thanks that Alice Nardi, the patron of Riva Lofts is a contemporary hotelier and not a Renaissance princess for her speciality is tranquillity and though it might not be conducive to the creation of epoch-defining art, it is pretty much perfect for a weekend away.

We had arrived the day before and were immediately charmed and calmed by Alice who runs her Lofts – the buildings were converted by her highly regarded architect father, Claudio – with the pride and attention to detail that only a family business can inspire. She showed us straight to our suite, which boasted a perfect blend of contemporary artworks and understated 20th-century furniture. Despite considerable competition, the room’s centrepiece is a massive white bed that Mrs Smith eagerly stretched out on like a cat in the sun. ‘It’s heavenly,’ she declared. And it was hard to disagree. From the silky string drapes that hung from the ceiling in a clever twist on the four-poster, to the low lighting that illuminates the white walls, the space is dreamily ethereal. Thankfully this otherworldly atmosphere hasn’t come at a price: the Riva Lofts caters for all the earthly pleasures too. As well as complimentary soft drinks and a bowl of chocolate-covered hazelnuts, we were supplied with handpicked mood music, a flatscreen TV and an intriguing selection of art books. Most impressively of all, though (particularly for those of us from the nation that once considered a Teasmade the height of sophistication) was the freshly ground coffee, the discreet little designer hob and the proper espresso maker.

As soon as Mrs Smith had guiltily finished the last of the chocolates we felt ready to venture into Florence to gorge on churches. From Croce’s faded frescoes, to the Duomo’s chintzy campaniles we embarked on a beauty bender that would have had a dizzy Stendhal hallucinating wildly before he crawled off to bed. Being made of sterner stuff (or having less refined sensibilities) exposure to such amazing art made us thirsty not mad and we couldn’t have chosen a better spot to quench our thirst than Dolce Vita, a contemporary Italian bar that complements its Chianti Classico with delicious contorni, such as salmon ravioli and ricotta tart. 

The next morning feeling great and headed down to breakfast, which was served in the high-ceiling communal room. In the evening the room can be used for film screenings or perusing Riva Lofts surprisingly fine library, but in the morning its vast table is laden with little yoghurts, fresh breads and a constantly replenished jug of freshly squeezed mandarin juice, an amber nectar so sweet that it is worth the visit alone. 

We took our coffees out to the shared gardens, where we sat by the pool imagining what a boon the tranquil outdoor area would be were we seeking respite from Tuscany’s  summer heat. Unsurprisingly, such serenity can’t be found bang in the anarchic heart of old Florence and Riva Lofts is tucked down an unassuming street a brisk 20-minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio. At the time of reviewing, the route isn’t always pretty, a situation that will be ameliorated by the completion of a riverside path that will link the hotel and the city centre. Once this has happened, the proud upright bikes that Alice keeps for guests will be the finest way to travel into town.

Even with the situation as it is it doesn’t take long to get to the river and we walked along the north bank marvelling at the beavers and turtles gaily coexisting in the shallow waters. After we’d fortified ourselves with a quick carafe of rose we headed south of the Arno to the part of town where the locals congregate to escape the tourist hordes. The area around Santo Spirito is the city’s counter-cultural heart with many a fine little restaurant and a delightful antiques market that we happily browsed in between restorative rounds of vino rosso.

Fashion world people are forever jetting off to Florence for the biannual trade fair at Pitti, which makes them great people for clever little tips about the city. Our insider told us about Sostanza, a classic Florentine restaurant that is reputed to be Miuccia Prada’s favourite place to eat. That evening we found out why. The decor is clean and simple, the food simpler still. When you order steak you get just that. But it’s the size of Wales and it’s so good that the guy sitting next to me managed two. The butter chicken may just be chicken but it is the finest treatment that I’ve ever encountered.

Florence is a wonderfully over-the-top kind of place. Its great lashings of gilt and its tumultuous history make it one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Now with the addition of Riva Lofts this Tuscan city can now justly claim to have mastered the fine arts of simplicity and tranquillity too.

The Guestbook

Reviews of Riva Lofts from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The hotel is close to the city centre, but far enough that it's exceptionally quiet. The member of staff who greeted us spoke four languages and was extremely attentive to our needs upon our arrival. She recommended several great restaurants in and outside of the city. We preferred eating in what she referred to as the "vintage" side of Florence, and had an amazing time there.

Don’t expect

The suite we had didn't have a bath, but that's all I can 'complain' about.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved, loved, loved the vintage bikes. Having the freedom to pedal in and out of town was an absolute joy. The reception staff, in particular Carlotta, was lovely: friendly and helpful. We felt genuinely welcomed. The location of the hotel is perfect, just a mile or so from the centre of town, which is easily accessible by bike, tram or even on foot. The hotel and its garden, with the park on the opposite side of the river, provided space to breathe, to relax, to escape the hustle and bustle of the town. Finally, and rather obviously, the design… The clean lines and simplicity perfectly lend themselves to a sense of calm.

Don’t expect

The breakfast could be better – great coffee and yogurt but substandard fruit and breads/pastries.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The rooms, garden and communal sitting room are simply beautiful. Real attention to detail and a designer's eye has gone into perfecting this hotel. Our room was huge and split level, with a cosy little terrace off the bedroom where we drank red wine into the small hours. Most of all, I liked the little quirky touches. Our breakfast cappuccinos were served in dainty tea cups and saucers, there was a yoga mat and weights in our room, and a satisfyingly powerful hairdryer (so rare in even the best hotels!) which was made full use of. Alice and her team were so welcoming and friendly. When we asked to borrow the hotel's bikes, Alice not only provided us with a map, but sat me down and plotted a route for us, highlighting the dangerous areas for cyclists.

Don’t expect

Nothing to improve in terms of the hotel, but the taxi from the airport seemed rather expensive at €25, considering it was no more than an 8-minute drive. Apparently, we should only have paid €20 (standard charge from airport into the city) plus €1 for each of our two bags, so we were only slightly overcharged. Other visitors to Riva Lofts might find this useful.

Rating: 10/10 stars