updated 7/30/2007 10:45:32 AM ET 2007-07-30T14:45:32

The best luxury hotels
Hotel Helvetia & Bristol (tel. 888-770-0447 in the U.S.): This most central of Florence's luxury addresses was the city's leading hotel in the 19th century, and an award-winning restoration a decade ago returned the guest rooms and lounges to their opulent turn-of-the-20th-century look. The bright and refreshing small Winter Garden bar, with trailing ivy and a splashing fountain, doubles as the breakfast room.

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Hotel Regency (tel. 055-245-247): The cozy wood reading rooms crowded with antique furnishings feel like a bit of old England. The service is some of the best and most discreet in the city, and the restaurant is the justifiably famous Relais le Jardin — Tuscan food from the kitchen of a master chef. Guest rooms are somewhat modernized, but marble-clad bathrooms and daily fresh fruit and newspapers in your room add to the prevailing quiet comfort.

The best moderately priced hotels
Pensione Maria Luisa de' Medici (tel. 055-280-048): This hotel's owner collects both baroque art and modern design, so the halls are hung with museum-quality Vignale and Van Dyck and the rooms are furnished with classics of 1950s design. You also get a full breakfast served in bed. Did I mention it's as central as you can get in Florence?

Hotel Torre Guelfa (tel. 055-239-6338): The name is very apt for a hotel that incorporates the tallest privately owned tower in the city and is set in the medieval streets near the Ponte Vecchio. When you tire of sipping "aperitivi" on top of the 13th-century tower with its 360-degree panorama of the city, you can retire to your canopied bed or follow the wafting classical music to the long Renaissance-style lounge.

Morandi alla Crocetta (tel. 055-234-4747): One of the most genteel and hospitable of Florence's hotels, the Morandi is set in a 1511 convent. You feel as if you're guests in the palazzo of some absentee well-off Florentine family from the 1800s. Each room is decorated with a shrewd eye to keeping the late Renaissance alive, with exposed brickwork and the occasional 16th-century fresco. Most hotels like this charge up to three times as much. Book early.

Best rooms with a view
"Camera con vista, per piacere." That's what you need to ask to guarantee a vista out your window, whether it's a view of the Arno, the Duomo, or the hills you crave.

Hotel Chiari Bigallo (tel. 055-216-086): If you get a room along the front, you can practically lean out your window and poke Giotto's campanile with a stick. The view from these rooms is a living postcard — a foreshortened shot with the Duomo facade and campanile 50 feet away and Brunelleschi's dome rising above them.

Hotel Hermitage (tel. 055-287-216): Several good vistas await you at this old favorite. Room 602 has a balcony and view of the Palazzo Vecchio, while other rooms look down on the tiny Romanesque facade of Santo Stefano. Several overlook the Corridorio Vasariano to the Arno and the Ponte Vecchio.

Hotel Bellettini (tel. 055-213-561): Ask the friendliest sisters in Florence to give you either room 28, with its view of the Duomo, or room 45, featuring one of the most unique panoramas in Florence: a close-up sweep from the Medici Chapel dome of San Lorenzo over to a full view of the Duomo, facade and all.

Westin Excelsior (formerly the Hotel Excelsior; tel. 800-WESTIN-1 in the U.S., or 055-264-201): The penthouses, and especially the presidential suite, at Florence's premier luxury hotel have drop-dead panoramas from their terraces. You get everything: starting with the Arno at your feet and San Miniato's hill beyond it, panning past the Palazzo Vecchio, the Badia and Bargello Towers, the Duomo's cupola, and Fiesole. If you've got upward of $1,000 to drop on a room, check in here and spend your vacation on the balcony.

Hotel Loggiato dei Serviti (tel. 055-289-592): It isn't often you can wake up and throw open your shutters to a view of the most beautiful square in Florence and get an art-history lesson in the bargain. Below your window in Piazza Santissima Annunziata are bronze statues by Giambologna and Pietro Tacca, and across the square is a Brunelleschi-designed loggia studded with Andrea della Robbia terra cottas.

Torre di Bellosguardo (tel. 055-229-8145): Set on the hill where Hawthorne wrote "The Marble Faun", the Bellosguardo's gardens and most of its guest rooms offer the closest-range vista of the Florentine skyline available. This 14th-century castle is the most Renaissance-feeling hotel in the city, with echoey vaulted chambers, beautiful antique beds, intricately carved and inlaid wood pieces, and ponderous stone staircases. The most spectacular view is from the tower suite.

Pensione Benescistà (tel. 055-59-163): The small lounges and smoking rooms scattered throughout this early Renaissance mansion located halfway up the hill to Fiesole have picture windows opening onto Brunelleschi's dome and the whole of the Florentine skyline. Breakfast in summer is on a panoramic terrace.

For a complete listing of Frommer's-reviewed hotels, visit our online hotels index.

Frommer’s is America’s best-selling travel guide series. Visit Frommers.com to find great deals, get information on over 3,500 destinations, and book your trip. © 2006 Wiley Publishing, Inc. Republication or redistribution of Frommer's content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Wiley.

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