on January 8, 2013
The 4-star Hotel Da Vinci lies just on the other side of the River Arno from the town centre of Empoli. It's an easy walk from the hotel to all that the town has to offer, unfortunately that's not really an awful lot. On the plus side, it's an easy hotel to find - exit the superstrada 67 (or FI-PI-LI, Firenze-Pisa-Livorno) at either the Empoli east or west junction, follow the by-pass to the bridge, and turn right (or left) for Vinci.In case those instructions are too hard to follow, it's signposted all the way from the SS67 exit.Hotel Da Vinci is ideally situated for visiting some of the major attractions of Tuscany, being a 20-minute drive from Florence, 5 minutes further from Pisa, and around an hour from Sienna. Empoli has rail links with both Florence and Pisa.The hotel is a silver-grey shining, ultra-modern edifice of four floors which form an inverted wedge shape - the building getting progressively wider as it gets taller. It's set well back from the road, and surrounded by ample car parking although there's also the option of more secure, underground parking. The road itself is fairly busy, and there are various 'centro comercials' close by, as well as a few bars and restaurants. That said, apart from rush hour it's a relatively quiet area.Checking-in was quick and easy and the staff very friendly - every time we entered or left the building, there was always a smile and a 'ciao' for us. Not all the staff spoke English, but there was always someone on hand who did if the need arose.The reception area was bright, airy and cool to the point of chilly, but as the mercury was creeping into the high 30's outside, we weren't complaining. The lobby was rather stark for my taste...minimalist even, with a couple of square, squat sofas and strange artificial plant/sculptures dotted around. The restaurant was at the front of the building, separated from the lobby by a lounge area close to the elevators.The corridors were also very cool and extremely wide. A nice touch was the complimentary bowls of fruit at strategic points.The hotel has 65 rooms of which 18 have baths and 3 are classed as superior. We had an 'unsuperior' room with a shower.The room continued with the minimalist theme, although I was glad to see a couple of pictures hanging on the off-white walls to add a touch of homeliness. all the rooms have wooden floors, and ours was no exception. The lovely 'teak' floor was coordinated with the large desk, headboard, skirtings and door frames and the dark teak gave a nice contrast with the creamy walls. Also on the wall was a decent-sized, LCD TV with around 30 multi-lingual channels and something like 30 different pay movies to choose from as well as games. The TV also had internet access with a keyboard on the desk all ready to go.Below the desk was a well-stocked and reasonably priced mini-bar complete with 2 complimentary bottles of water. We also had a small table and a couple of comfortable chairs. The twin beds were firm, comfortable and pretty large and were well equipped with surprisingly comfortable pillows (a rarity in most hotels). Each had its own bedside cabinet and reading lamp. A work lamp, large table lamp, and recessed spotlights ensured the room stayed bright.Speaking of brightness, there was a large window which opened fully - not a great view though. We overlooked a supermarket car park, and some apartment blocks although we had a tantalising glimpse of some hills in the middle distance.There was ample storage space in the large wardrobe which was fitted with opaque glass and back-lit. A safe was hidden inside here (no charge). there was also a huge, embossed mirror, but this was placed in the corner of the room and not very convenient to use.The bathroom was very attractive. Massive white tiles were broken up by bands of copper-glaze mosaic and the floor consisted of wood effect ceramic tiles. We had a beautifully crafted glass basin, a bidet and WC (which I'm not going to describe in any detail), and a large, corner-unit shower. The shower was fine, but it took quite a while to get hot water.The toiletries were all individually boxed and hinted at luxury while the soft bath towels were massive. I didn't measure them (I have a life) but they must have been 6ft square easy. The door between the bedroom and bathroom was frosted glass and swung both ways (don't we all), quite attractive but I don't think glass doors and wet floors make particularly good bed-fellows.Our room was immaculately clean throughout - not even a hint of fluff under the bed. In fact it was as clean as a hospital ward (not an NHS hospital...obviously). In general, the hotel was one of the neatest and cleanest I've ever stayed in. I'm not sure when it was built (although it can't have been more than a few years), but everything had a pristine feel to it.The room had one of the quietest, and most efficient A/C units I've experienced, but we had the window wide open for most of the first evening we were there. Big mistake. I was eaten alive by mozzies and hardly slept at all. Just how bad were the vicious little blood-suckers? Put it this way, when I cut myself shaving in the morning, instead of leaking blood, a puff of dust hissed out.As for amenities, apart from the aforementioned restaurant, the hotel is equipped with a sauna and a fitness room - both of which I successfully managed to avoid. The hotel also has conference facilities.In conclusion, this was an excellent hotel and suited our needs perfectly. It was well situated for our visit to Florence, and there were attractions in the immediate area that were worth seeing as well. The immediate area around the hotel, while not exactly picturesque, was pleasant enough and there were enough shops, bars and restaurants for an evening stroll.I think the hotel is aimed towards business users rather than tourists, but it was friendly enough. I wouldn't hesitate to use this hotel again...in fact, if I was ever to visit the area again, this hotel would definitely be my first choice.
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