We went to Florence to visit the 25 hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino, the first to be inaugurated in Italy by 25 hours hotels which represents the best example of the trend on the hybridisation of spaces in the hotel industry that we have been witnessing in recent times.
We are in a neighborhood that, despite its centrality, had a difficult life
tells us the GM Bart Spoorenberg who followed the entire recovery and restructuring project and who manages the structure.
Born from the ashes of two convents, which later became barracks and finally the seat of the Monte dei Pegni, the complex for an area of 10,750 square meters aims to re-propose the externally the parvis of the old Florentine churches, implementing, through the urbanization costs consequent to the recovery of the structure, a true urban regeneration of the neighborhood in which the Municipality of Florence has actively participated.
The design idea was born in 2007/2008 but it is in 2019/2021 that it takes shape thanks to the architectural project by Andrea Grassi of GLA Architetturale.
The works involved the demolition of the shed where the pledged goods were accumulated, an activity that brought to light an old city cemetery in which entire families had been buried due to the plague epidemic, and the reconstruction of a building with 100 rooms.
During the works, the foundations of the old east-west oriented church were highlighted, whose old apse and 2 courtyards were reconverted. The current structure consists of two buildings, one pre-existing and one newly built, and 2 courtyards, one closed, occupied by the hotel lobby, restaurant and bar, and one open, used as a luxuriant and human-sized garden, but with buffer areas built with post-industrial structures, onto which the rooms overlook.
The Interior Design project was followed by Studio Otto of Paola Navone and Gianpaolo Venier, who knew how to re-read in an ironic, pop and playful way a theme not easy to propose in Florence: Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.
A challenge, almost a provocation, into which Studio Otto threw itself headlong, creating a unique structure of its kind!
Three entrances have been created: the first from the delicacy shop, delicatessen, bar, lobby called I greedy, which overlooks the churchyard of San Paolino and works on people’s imagination. In fact, we pass from a normal urban square to a totally dystonic area, causing great amazement.
The second entrance is from the restaurant, characterized by a huge fireplace, where each element is customized and for sale, and the third from the reception, from via Palazzolo, characterized by the presence of a suitcase-themed installation, an emblematic element of travel. No longer just the reception where you can check in, but also an exhibition space and shop.
All spaces are fluid, multifunctional, open, such as the Paradiso cinema hall which becomes a meeting room thanks to panels hung on the walls, depicting iconic scenes from Italian cinema, which transform into tables.
The whole hotel is challenged to transform itself, bearing witness to its great vocation for hospitality, which has been understood and well received by the city, which has bestowed great success on its hybrid and multifunctional spaces.
In fact, the 25 hours Piazza San Paolino is not just a hotel, but also a restaurant, a bistro, a cocktail bar, a cinema, a toy library, which offers itself to socializing, providing ample space for music and reading with a foot in the present and one foot in the analog.
If it is true that the feeling declaredly sought by the designers is to amaze, we can say that they have succeeded perfectly in their intention, above all in the creation of the rooms, where the hell and paradise theme has been interpreted in a free and visionary way in every possible detail.
But who can be crazy enough to choose to stay in hell? This is the question that the designers asked themselves and found an ingenious answer in irony.
Hell therefore becomes every source of pleasure, strong and heavy in all its forms, while Paradise belongs to those who choose to immerse themselves in ethereal beauty.
The 170 rooms, equally divided between hell and heaven, each have a name that reflects a piece of heavenly or hellish history. Those who want to sleep in hell, therefore, will be able to choose to experience the dimension of lust, gluttony, heresy, in environments dominated by fiery red and gold; those who aspire to Paradise will be able to bask in edifying but playful stories in relaxing tones of blue and silver.
The obsessive attention to detail is part of the immersive and fun experience, linked to the city of Florence in an absolutely special, cheerfully hyper-expressive way.
Winking at the social habits of the customers, the hotel offers perfect corners for “instagrammable” dramas!
A hotel that chooses to break down borders and barriers, not only in a metaphorical sense.
In fact, there are few doors that delimit the spaces to give the maximum livable space. Even in the bathrooms of the rooms, only the wet area of the shower and that of the toilets are isolated, while the washbasin almost becomes a piece of furniture, like the toilets of the past.
An interesting bet that of the 25 hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino in Florence, a project, developed during the Covid pandemic, which has been able to grasp the social transformations underway by proposing a very personal response to the strong demand for a return to sociality.