(For the full review and more photos, see the July 2019 issue of our magazine)

We stayed at Velona’s Jungle for a week whilst attending the EcoTrail 80k and there are several very good reasons why we believe you should stay there too (even if you’re not running!).

Firstly, it’s owned and run by a charming Florentine family who offer warm hospitality within an elegant, relaxed setting. Staying here will give you the authentic local experience that you’re probably looking for if you opt for a guesthouse/B&B rather than a large, impersonal chain hotel. They’re also very happy to help book you online tickets for the more popular art galleries, which is great since the online portals aren’t that clear but you’ll need those tickets if you want to avoid the long queues.

Secondly, the bedrooms and public areas are designed beautifully using the owner’s antiques and also their love of nature (17th century Chinese paintings hang alongside modern paintings of animals which are the work of a member of the family). The rooms are all well appointed, quiet and comfortable, and each is themed after a famous naturalist or writer such as Darwin, Fossey or Durrell.

Thirdly, the breakfast is magnificent and served by genuinely friendly, calm staff. All dishes are vegetarian and there are plenty of vegan options such as Tuscan Beans, lentils, fruit salad, chocolate torte and croissants. The pastries and cakes are made locally and everything is served on a 17th century French table. It’s no exaggeration to say that breakfast at Velona’s Jungle was one of the highlights of our stay in Florence.

Fourth, it’s pet friendly! Regardless of breed or size, the owners will provide a bed and food and water dishes for you upon arrival, and can arrange grooming, walking, and dogsitting services.

Fifth, Velona’s is very near to transport links. The main train station, where either the train or bus from Pisa airport drops you, is a 15 minute walk away, or a 5 minute tram ride. And just across the road is another smaller train station from where you leave for the Good Tastes of Tuscany cookery class, which I recommend.

It’s also an easy walk to all the major sites of central Florence. A 20 minute walk along the Arno river will leave you at Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo. Piazza Michelangleo and the Accademia are 10 minutes more.

I thought it worth reprinting the following description, given me by the owners, as it shows the high level of thought that’s gone onto the property and their aims.

“Velona’s Jungle is a chic yet welcoming boutique hotel in the center of Florence, where guests can savor a unique style of luxury paired with a true passion for hospitality and the environment. Our suites are perfect for curious travelers who love discovering unusual and unforgettable accommodations, meeting warm local hosts, and experiencing the authentic side of Florence’s history, culture, and cuisine.

Velona’s Jungle is a designer oasis where many of the elegant objets d’art and furnishings date from the mid century, when the family’s patriarch Pasquale Velona – a respected Florentine art dealer – began collecting pieces during his travels in Italy and abroad. His fabulous finds from trips through Florence, Rome, Naples, London, Paris, and Vienna in the 1950’s were paired exquisitely with the prestigious antique and period furnishings from his gallery, creating a one-of-a-kind home.

Veronica and her mother Serena added to the original collection, carefully selecting works by contemporary artists, fabrics and decorative accents by favorite designers, and choice books and sculpture…each chosen with the same care and passion as the grandfather and together creating the eclectic whole that is now Velona’s Jungle.

True luxury travel is that which sustains local cultures and is based on an ethical and responsible style which guarantees that future generations of travelers will be able to enjoy the same beautiful land and cityscapes. At Velona’s Jungle Luxury Suites, we are passionate about sustainable travel which leaves the smallest possible impact on the environment, highlights authentic local experiences, and supports traditional cuisine.

We feature locally-sourced, organic 100% vegetarian products, recycle, encourage our guests to discover Florence by foot or bike and the surrounding region of Tuscany by train, and recommend shops, markets, and boutiques which carry local gourmet and artisan products and vintage treasures.

Each morning we serve a healthy and balanced breakfast with freshly-made vegan sweet and savory pastries and croissants so you’ll be ready to set off and explore Florence.

Our breakfast menu includes a number of delicious homemade selections, including freshly-mixed muesli, fruit juices and smoothies, organic jams, tarts and cakes, cookies, and traditional Tuscan breakfast dishes with a modern, healthy twist.

Want to take it easy in the morning? No problem, we serve breakfast until noon!

Your beloved pet is welcome in the suites at Velona’s Jungle Luxury Suites, regardless of breed or size. We provide a bed and food and water dishes just the right size for them upon arrival, and can arrange grooming, walking, and dogsitting services.

We can also recommend the best walks to take with your furry friend during your stay in Florence and pet-friendly restaurants and sights in the city center.

Velona’s Jungle has four suites, each one created with a unique style:

Livingstone Suite
This deluxe suite soothes with a palette of warm earth tones and soft shades of green, echoing the colors of a lush virgin forest. Measuring 28 square meters, the Livingstone Suite features a sumptuous canopy bed, an elegant living area, and an ensuite bathroom with a rainshower and chromotherapy lights.

Amenities
Minibar with complimentary beverages and snacks – Electric kettle for hot drinks – Flat screen tv – Luxury bath products – King size bed – Foam mattress topper – Luxury bed linens – Double pillows – Laptop safe – Free wifi – Air conditioning

Darwin Suite
Sophisticated luxury paired with animal magnetism make this eclectic room one of the most unique in all of Florence. Black lacquered furnishings and African-inspired prints and decor are offset by glowing golden walls and warm parquet floors. The 25 square meter Darwin Suite has a reading corner and an ensuite bathroom with a rainshower.

Amenities
Minibar with complimentary beverages and snacks – Electric kettle for hot drinks – Flat screen tv – Luxury bath products – King size bed – Foam mattress topper – Luxury bed linens – Double pillows – Laptop safe – Free wifi – Air conditioning

Fossey Suite
Settle in and relax, but don’t be fooled by the refined neutral tones and tranquil peace in this 30 square meter deluxe suite. There’s a touch of jungle fever in the turquoise accents, feathered table lamps, and playful animal prints and textiles. The Fossey Suite has a walk-in closet, two armchairs, desk, and ensuite bathroom with a rainshower.

Amenities
Minibar with complimentary beverages and snacks – Electric kettle for hot drinks – Flat screen tv – Luxury bath products – King size bed or two single beds – Foam mattress topper – Luxury bed linens – Double pillows – Laptop safe – Free wifi – Air conditioning

Durrell Suite
You’ll be charmed by this whimsical yet stylish tropical oasis, and with the chic palm tree wall decor, playful fern bathroom ceiling, and lighthearted “feathered friend” keeping you company, you’ll never want to leave this 28 square meters of paradise. The Durrell Suite has a balcony, two armchairs, desk, and ensuite bathroom with a rainshower.

Amenities
Minibar with complimentary beverages and snacks – Electric kettle for hot drinks – Flat screen tv – Luxury bath products – Queen size bed – Foam mattress topper – Luxury bed linens – Double pillows – Laptop safe – Free wifi – Air conditioning

Velona’s Jungle is exquisitely Florentine yet a home from home and staying there is a unique experience. Check their website out for the best prices.

http://www.velonasjungle.com/en/