Pulling into Firenze Santa Maria Novella, the main train station in Florence, the excitement in the air is palpable. The Duomo, Michelangelo’s David, and the promise of pasta ensure millions of tourists will visit the Tuscan capital each year, and it is our humble opinion that few will leave disappointed. That said, Florentine crowds can be overwhelming, especially near the city’s main attractions. Our general travel rule is to avoid hotels close to the sights, and instead opt for a neighborhood locals love most.

Just across the Arno river and about a 15 minute walk from the train is the trendy neighborhood of Oltrarno. The bohemian, artsy district is a welcome respite from the hoards of tourists. Though it features many popular destinations like Palazzo Pitti and Piazzale Michelangelo, Oltrarno is much quieter and more casual. There are cozy wine bars, small boutiques, and artist studios you can explore. It’s in this area that Betty Soldi, Francesco Maestrelli, and Matteo & Marco Perduca have opened three boutique hotels: AdAsdtra, SoprArno Suites, and our personal favorite, Oltrarno Splendid.

To live like a local, Oltrarno Splendid is just the spot. Hidden behind massive doors of an 18th century palazzo, you might miss it if you don’t know to look. The hotel is located on the top two floors and is unlike any property we’ve been to before.

There are 14 uniquely designed rooms, each more interesting than the last. You won’t find any boring white walls here — there are frescoes, a carefully restored Toile de Jouy wallpaper, and original pieces of artwork. Clawfoot bathtubs (located right in the bedroom) encourage relaxation after walking the city all day, while espresso machines give you an extra pep before heading out for aperitivo. Here, modern amenities pair with vintage charm.

In the common spaces — an upstairs lobby and breakfast room, a downstairs lounge — guests will find everything they need to feel at home. A buffet breakfast is included each morning, with both savory and sweet options and strong cappuccinos. There is an honor bar (you can’t go wrong with a cold Peroni) and an expansive library of design books and local magazines. After a few days in this eclectic paradise, you may find yourself imagining what it would be like if you simply never left.

Oltrarno Splendid: Website // Via dei Serragli, 7, 50124 Firenze FI, Italy