Charm is more valuable than beauty.
You can resist beauty, but you cannot resist charm.
Further, one says that charm is not easy to attain. Some are born with it, others conjure it, several aspire for it and many practice it. And it need not exist merely in people, but also in places. Which is why a trip to the Italian Riviera and away from the Milanese glitz I was used to brought me to my seven-times-and-counting favorite city Florence… tucked on two sides of a romantic river with bridges that glinted in the starlight, and a moon that never set even when the sun was up.
The residence this time was Ottantotto Firenze, a charming secret tucked in the locals haunts right off the river and next to me favorite fashionable escapes and gelateria. With an unassuming entrance almost like a house, it was a cobble stone street with a large, Narnia-style door with numeric coded check in that was in juxtaposition with the magic in the air – and in the healthiest way possible. The building was a historic one in Oltarno, and as history had it, it used to be a bakery of a renaissance baker, followed by a philanthropic institution, and now a 7 room boutique hotel with a charming garden. In Conde Naste‘s hotlist, it’s no surprise that the unity of charm, luxury and history was so seamless at this cozy outpost.
The entire property was glistening with antique surprises. My favorite was the hall of mirrors, splashed with sunlight from a stained glass window. And even while posing for quintessential selfies, I rediscovered the purpose of mirrors in self adoration and reflective glances … as opposed to silly iPhone pics. The intimacy of the hotel and its old fashioned staircase was unparalleled, which was made of pietra serena, a typical Tuscan stone used in Florentine palazzos. And the quiet air spoke of historical secrets, which could only be unraveled in the secret garden with a glass of (complimentary) prosecco and unlimited teas and coffees. Perfection could not be prettier, could it?
The room itself was painted in pastel and vintage hues, rustic oranges and greens yawning with comfy bedding and mahogany woodwork furniture. Large windows yawned into the garden, literally transporting me from a bustle of tech into a yesteryear charm that I had quite forgotten about. I almost wished that Peter Pan and Tinkerbell would come to my window by night, or that one of the many beautiful carpets could mistake me for Aladdin.
With modern amenities and honey bathing products, the mornings were decked with full laid breakfasts of snacks aplenty – coffees, teas, proseccos, cakes, and other Italian foods, all served on a neatly laid series of tables with impeccable tablescaping and decor. The garden was adjacent to the open kitchen and 24-hour living room, where a bustling fireplace and artsy furniture was as fit for the residence as it would be for Art Basel’s boho chic contemporary style. It was a perfect prequel to explore the city’s icons by day and night, and I felt more at peace with the luscious scenery and architecture merely owing to the history of the residence I was placed in.
As each room is different, I was hoping to return quickly to the city of dreams… truly, a city where dreams came true.