Alex Meitlis-Designed Hotel Calimala in Florence Marries Historic and Modern

Hotel Calimala's exterior features 19th-century sgrafitto frescoes. Photography by Umberto D'Aniello.

Pochi passi (several steps) from the Duomo, Piazza della Signoria, and Piazza della Repubblica—the touch points of Florence’s centro storico—stands Hotel Calimala, one of the city’s newest and freshest hospitality venues. The 38-room property represents the transformation of a 19th-century palazzo, officially Palazzo degli Angeli, which last housed offices. Credit goes to architect Alex Meitlis, who divides his time between Tel Aviv and London, where he is known for the design of Yotom Ottolenghi’s restaurants. A happy marriage of the historic and the modern, Hotel Calimala retains the detailed sgrafitto frescoes of its exterior, while its interiors are now a sophisticated canvas of marble, terrazzo, contemporary custom furnishings, and artwork.

Rooms at Hotel Calimala feature exposed masonry walls and bronze-and-mirror headboards designed by architect Alex Meitlis. Photography by Umberto D'Aniello.

The hotel departs from the norm in more ways than one. It has no grand entrance, just banners hanging over Via Calimala, one of Florence’s main pedestrian streets. Similarly, there is no lobby per se, only an entry vestibule of bold black-veined creamy marble surrounding the check-in desk. From there it’s a direct passage to the guest floors, where rooms are announced by oversized brass numerals. Inside, visitors experience a materials-rich envelope of terrazzo floors and exposed masonry walls. Says Meitlis: “It was important to us that every stone, crack, and crevice that could be salvaged remain within the final design. When guests wake up in their room, they will instantly know they are in Florence and nowhere else in the world.”

Italian artist Ivo Bisignano designed chiaroscuro rugs for the rooms at Hotel Calimala. Photography by Umberto D'Aniello.

The architect’s pieces include beds with bronze-and-mirror headboards, lighting, and armoires offering a shock of hot pink when opened. The chiaroscuro rugs are by Italian artist Ivo Bisignano and the art is curated by Carmel Ilan, many of the pieces her own. The visually striking and generously sized bathrooms feature chevron compositions of black, greige, and brown marble on the walls and floors.

The artwork at Hotel Calimala was curated by Carmel Ilan and includes some of her work. Photography by Umberto D'Aniello.

Windows abound and offer sunlit city views. Best, though, are those from the top floors, five through seven. A tri-level rooftop houses the casual-chic restaurant Angel, plus tiered terraces that beckon Florentines to mix it up with guests over a Campari aperitivo. Interior Design visited just days after the soft opening earlier this month. We’ll be back when operations and festivities are in full swing.

Bathrooms feature marble in striking chevron patterns. Photography by Umberto D'Aniello.
The rooftop terrace at Hotel Calimala is an inviting spot for an aperitivo. Photography by Shai Epstein.
Alex Meitlis opted for artistic oversize brass numerals to indicate rooms. Photography by Umberto D'Aniello.
Brass, mirror, and marble blend modern and historic elements at Hotel Calimala. Photography by Umberto D'Aniello.
Guests can enjoy views of nearby Florence landmarks from the rooftop terrace. Photography by Shai Epstein.
Hotel Calimala's Angel rooftop restaurant offers access to outdoor terraces in warm weather. Photography by Shai Epstein.

Read more: Four Hospitality Destinations Reflect the Beauty of Their Surroundings

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