An eclectic, pop interpretation of the Divine Comedy by Dante, the new 25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino opens to the city of Florence, revealing a garland of kaleidoscopic narrative spaces, erudite and bizarre

Packed with citations of Dante, angels and the damned, literary allusions and playful digressions, the new 25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino in Florence is based on the Divine Comedy, in an interior design bearing the recognizable, versatile signature of Paola Navone. Her visionary and witty interpretation sets the tone of the spaces of a hotel that fills the observer with wonder: scenes from the Inferno and the Paradiso alternate to generate lively, welcoming spaces open to the whole city.

An impressive architectural recovery

The new hotel is a coordinated group effort: the major renovation conducted by the Florentine firm GLA Genius Loci Architettura is combinedwith the creative energy of Paola Navone, who with her team at Studio Otto has studied and customized every detail of the internal spaces, both shared and private: from furnishings to objects, facings to accessories. Near the rail station in Florence, the 25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino, the first unit in Italy of the German urban smart hotel chain, occupies an entire place at Santa Maria Novella, in a central yet secluded (and quiet) position, strategic but off the usual tourism itinerary. Located in the complex of the former Monte dei Pegni della Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze, it has a fulcrum of 66 guestrooms, inside a former monastery annexed to the church of San Paolino.

Open to the neighborhood

After the careful restoration of certain areas and the controlled demolition of others, the original historical nucleus has been completed with a new addition for the creation of 104 more rooms, as well as a large Garden Loft, a pool and private entrances. The result is a contemporary, cosmopolitan hotel with total floorspace of 10,000 sqm, for a full roster of 171 guestrooms. The heart of the hotel, in the central courtyard of the historic building, is the luminous San Paolino restaurant positioned below an enormous glass dome, dominated by an immense ‘walk-in’ fireplace and embraced by a lush garden. The courtyard is flanked by Companion, a classic bar Negroni bar, and by Alimentari, a typical shop offering fresh products of the well-known Florentine bakery S.forno, as well as a selection of high-quality foods and beverages. With access from the small Piazza San Paolino, the Alimentari space – topped by the big sign “I Golosi” – is open to the neighborhood, its inhabitants and tourists.

A sequence of chambers of wonders

The sequence of large rooms like ‘chambers of wonders,’ striking in their imagery but domestic and comfortable at the same time, shifts from hellish flaming red to heavenly white and green, supplied by the plants in the gardens that punctuate the structure, and by the vivid hues applied to furnishings and objects.

Design, craftsmanship and art

Many design companies have been called into play, often to make furnishings, complements, claddings and lights customized by Studio Otto – Paola Navone. The brands of reference (like Vescom, Karman, Slide, Mamoli, Seletti, 14oraitaliana, Gobbetto, Baxter, Gervasoni, Ethimo, Amura, Ingo Maurer, Flaminia Lighting, Dominique Kieffer by Rubelli, Casamilano), but also smaller companies like La Pietra Compattata, which has done the floors with handmade tiles. Other contributions come from artisans and artists, with works of strong and often bizarre impact, adding personality to the spaces.

A multifunctional hotel

Salvaged furnishings, unusual materials, handiwork and bright colors, the results of the travels and research of Paola Navone in various geographical regions and cultures all over the world, are mixed with typically Tuscan items, formulating a multifunctional and energizing, but above all permeable facility: a new – and unexpected – gathering place in the center of the city, open to all in a fluid, nonchalant way.

Lore dimension

While the Inferno rooms, named for the sinners in Dante’s circles of hell, light up with scarlet hues, accompanied by burnt finishes, the Paradiso rooms are dedicated to characters from the third canticle of the Divine Comedy, in celestial, soft splendor, lined with angelic materials in pearly hues of the skies. Right from the reception, we are catapulted into a surprising, playful dimension of fable and lore: the check-in counter is wrapped by an installation by the artist Patrick Bailly made with repainted salvaged luggage.

Italian lifestyle

Among the many shared spaces, there is the Sala Cinema Paradiso, whose original exposed brick walls are adorned by large portraits that can become tabletops, along with wall lamps with large shades illustrated with images from famous Italian lifestyle films, such as La Dolce Vita, Roman Holiday and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Then comes the Sala delle Celesti Armonie, set aside for music, reading and relaxation, featuring selected vinyl albums and books, as well as a billiard table.

Alchemical atmospheres

The vivid alchemical atmosphere of the new 25hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino in Florence is palpable, permeated by the ancient charm of a former monastery, but with a dynamic, convivial pop culture tone. A new destination open to lovers of kaleidoscopic spaces, with an unconventional (Dante-based) narrative. Between Inferno and Paradiso, vices and virtues.

Project GLA Genius Loci Architettura - Interior design Paola Navone / Studio Otto

Photos Dario Garofalo; Laura Fantacuzzi - Maxime Galati-Fourcade