My recent stay at the St Regis Hotel Florence, provided a jaw dropping experience while endulging myself with the ultmost luxury accommodation – the Bottega Veneta Suite created by Thomas Maier, the house Creative Director. As this is the latest Bottega Veneta Suite to open, it features additional design features, every inch in the suite, from carptes, curtains, chairs, tables, bed linen…being signed by Bottega Veneta. Thomas Maier’s aim was to create a warm, friendly and understated luxury environment where the WOW factor is concealed, even ‘muted’ but deeply felt for any guest experiencing it. The smell of the leather chairs and couches was almost addictive…becoming a sort of a ‘scent’ I missed when leaving…
One of my favourite items in the Bottega Veneta Suite (video preview) was the ‘trunk like’ business desk made of solid silver ‘accesorized’ with two lateral leather hand-made handles, and a re-interpreted classic Florentine chair with a Bottega ‘intrecciato’ leather pillow – a weaving technoque of the finest leathers which is a signature for the brand). The same ‘trunk like’ concept was applied to the private bar, which also included large crystal glasses and like all the other elements, no logos or initials – just the ‘intrecciato’ pattern. The bespoke bedding by specialist Pedersoli for Bottega Veneta made of the finest linen, provided a unique fresh, yet at the same time warm feel. The views of the River Arno from the oversized Bottega Veneta King bed, were breathtaking…
Unlike other ‘design’ suites such as the Jaguar Suite at 51 Buckingham Gate Taj at London or the Bentley Suite at St Regis in New York which provide evident references to the products of the respective luxury brands (luxury cars) in the case of the Bottega Veneta Suite, Thomas Maier succeded in re-creating the DNA of the brand through very subtle references. The fact that among the many glossy art or brand catalogues spread throughout the entire Suite, there was no Bottega Veneta literature (catalogues, brochures etc) – not even a note mentioning the address of the boutique in Florence perfectly reflects the Bottega Veneta lifestyle…understated luxury, warmth and comfort through neutral colors (grey, black, brown) and the materials used dominated by wood and leather.
Instead of setting up ‘make shift’ atelier with two artisans ‘demonstrating crafts within a busy department store, Bottega Veneta (short view) invites the most discerning luxury consumers into its exclusive world through experiencing a suite within a landmark hotel. While the suite was in no way intimidating or imposing, I did, however, feel a sense of responsibility – I found myself paying attention to where I place a cystal glass, not to leave any marks or not to move any of the objects which were carefully placed.
Much like the Bottega Suite at St Regis in Rome and St Regis in New York, the one in Florence feels even more homely and even more cozy. While the suites offer ample living room space some with even a large conference table, the suites were clearly not conceived for corporate events, such as a press launch for a perfume, jewelry etc.
As for the service at St Regis Florence, the already legendary butler can indeed make one feel like royalty. Housekeeping and F&B staff at dinner were trained to the highest standards, with a genuine attitude and a pleasure to serve which was so evident in their eyes. Unfortunately, this was not the case with the Front Office, who, would barely greet me each time I would pass by, let alone know me by name. But again, it is a matter of expectations – given its location, lack of garden and the limited selection of suites, the St Regis in Florence is clearly more a business hotel, and in this category it is probably the most luxurious business hotel in Florence.
Beautiful details at St Regis Florence, include an elegant library setting in the lobby, with many books and artefacts. The restaurant, which has a huge atrium with a painted glass rooftop is truly impressive. Bathrooms of all the rooms and suites were also completely refurbished and renovated – all in white marble, with separate shower and bathtub, amenities from Canadian Remede and a mirror enclosed Tv. To complete your experience, spoil youself by taking the house car, a beautiful Bentley – either for a short shopping spree or the trip to the airport. The St Regis Hotels actually have a worldwide partnership with Bentley
A dedicated photo gallery of the hotel and the Bottega Veneta suite is available on our Facebook page
At the very opposite is the Dior Suite at the Majestic Barriere Cannes. The subtle suggestive aesthetic specific for the Bottega Veneta Suites, are instead much more explicit and I would even say predictable. The only obvious references to the house of Dior are the now iconic chairs and the portrait photos on the walls with Dior muses and brand ambassadors, actresses Charlize Theron and Mario Cotillard. Otherwise, the bedroom, the wardrobe, the living room and the bahrooms could be part of any luxury Presidential or Royal suite in a classic style luxury hotel.
The fact that neither the bathroom amenities (at least in the suites) nor at the SPA feature Dior products (instead some generic average quality made by a company that licenses tens of brands). This made me understand that the Dior suite was never meant to welcome leisure guests at 35.000 euros/night but rather business or lifestyle events – a private event to launch a luxury product, a showcase for a luxury fashion or jewellery collection etc.
The Majestic Barriere Cannes is predominantly a business hotel, the leisure season runs only for two months July and August), therefore the majority of guests are attendees of the many annual conventions, congresses and fairs which take place in Cannes – doctors, advertisers, realtors, media, IT and security companies etc. For each of these events, the hotel is booked months in advance, and during such major events, the hotel transforms into an ‘impersonal machine’ staff providing a satisfactory service. It is probably why I faced this already ‘robotic service during my recent stay in the middle of June – staff becoming, at times, annoyed when approached by a more demanding guest who expects a personalized service. The ‘masters’ of this ‘robotic’ services at the Front Office and the Concierge.
Afterall, what would one expect from a five star business hotel which runs huge occupancy rates year round? If 80% of guests stay at the hotel for corporate events, most of them probably spending little time in the room, why would, afterall the hotel go to such lengths as to invest in the proper renovation of the entire hotel…
The restaurant may be branded Fouquet’s like the one in Paris, but although it shares the same owners and menu, service in Cannes is rushed, impersonal and cold. Considering the level of service provided, I found inappropriate the fact that the hotel charges for towels and a chaiselongs (rates per half day or full day) at both the private beach and the swimming pool.
Located on the penthouse floor, the Bulgari Suite at the Bulgari Hotel Milano it offers a unique view of the stunning garden and of city’s downtown. This 120-square-meter presidential suite includes a spacious living room furnished with soft leather couches and Oriental carpets and features a fireplace in the finest quality Brera stone. Floors, woodwork and the 90-square-meter terrace are all made of teak wood. The Bulgari Suite features an oversized bathroom with floor to ceiling window, separated by glass from the terrace.
Bathing in the free-standing bath-tub and overlooking Milan’s skyline can make up for a most relaxing or romantic moment. Hand made Green Tea candles, insense and an aromatherapy bathing tea add to the complete Bulgari branded bathroom amenties (all from the Green Tea line) -body products and men’s grooming.
Service is of the highest personalized standard at the Bulgari Hotel Milano – warm, respectful, friendly and most importantly genuine. From Giulio‘s magic touch at the Concierge, Sara‘s Front Office & Guest Relations which run like a Swiss watch, to Fabio‘s most attentive service at Il Giardino Restaurant – be prepared to feel truly sorry when you have to check-out!
Oliver Petcu – Cannes/Florence/Milan
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