Sitting just across from the Basilica of Santa Maria Novella and a stone’s throw from the main railway station of Florence, the Hotel L’Orologio is a luxe, boutique hotel owned by Sandro Fratini, a businessman whose forebears founded Italian clothing company Rifle, best known for its jeans. His passion is watch collecting, and the Hotel L’O’ is an embodiment of that. Specifically, the Hotel L’Orologio is a reflection of a love for twentieth century wristwatches from the most eminent brands like Patek Philippe and Rolex.
Step into the lobby and the horological theme is immediately apparent. There is an enormous Vacheron Constantin clock on the wall, as well as display cases filled with watch paraphernalia.
|A working model showing the mechanics of a watch movement|
And the bookshelves in the lounge are stocked with what else but watch books and auction catalogues.
All the walls, even the stairwells, are decorated with watch-related photos and prints, including a room lined with portraits of historical figures and modern day celebrities with their watches, mainly Rolex but with a handful of other makes.
|Framed Rolex silk scarves|
|A photo of Rolex bracelets|
The watch theme is all encompassing and complete. Even the glass doors to the bar have Rolex Explorer II door handles. Most of the china in the dining room is likewise watch-themed. Even the taps in the room bathrooms are shaped like Rolex Oyster screw-down crowns.
|The doors leading to the bar|
Each floor is dedicated to a particular brand, namely Patek Philippe, Rolex and Vacheron Constantin, which are the owner’s favourites. Patek Philippe, however, gets two floors, since it is Patek.
|The Rolex floor|
|In the lift lobby of the Vacheron Constantin floor|
Besides the brand-themed decor on each floor, each of the 54 rooms is named after a notable watch of the brand, for instance room 213 is named after the Rolex ref. 6084 “Drago” with a cloisonné enamel dial depicting a dragon. And the interior of each room is decorated with prints of the watch it is named after.
|The Rolex ref. 6084 with enamel dial|
All the major vintage timepieces have their own room. The Vacheron Constantin ref. 4764 “Cioccolatone” is one example, and of course the Patek Philippe ref. 2499.
The nightly rates for the Hotel L’Orologio are in the region of €300-400. They are pricey but par for the course for a boutique hotel of this standard in Florence. – SJX
|A view of the Piazza Santa Maria Novella from the top floor of the hotel|
|There is a subtle irony in using multiple world time clocks to display world times|
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