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Grand Universe Hotel, Lucca, Tuscany
This handsome hotel sits elegantly on the corner of the Piazza del Giglio - just moments' walk from one of the original gates which offer entry through Lucca's ancient walls, and date back to the sixth century. Inside, the supremely stylish decor is a symphony of cream, beige and sandy tones, complemented by soothing grey walls. There's a piano in the middle of the lobby, while stylish coffee-table books and artefacts are showcased on underlit shelving. This used to be a hotel called the Universo, which opened in 1857, and has since being taken over by Marriott's Autograph Collection, the only original element remaining is the honey-coloured facade. Now, just 55 rooms are spaced over six floors, all categorised by musical terms, in a nod to Lucca's impressive musical history. There's a small lounge bar connected to the main restaurant, and a rooftop bar, too.
A traditional horse and carriage ride along the top of the walls is a must-do, where guide and driver, Marika, relays details about the city's history while wrangling with her eternally hungry horse, Luigi.
The hotel is in the centre of town, a short walk from the duomo and Piazza dell'Anfiteatro.
By plane: direct flights to Pisa from London, Manchester and Bristol take around 2 hours 30 mins. The hotel is a 30-minute drive from the airport. skyscanner.net
Style & Character
It's perfect for mini-breakers and couples, and would also suit business or solo travellers, as they have a few comfortable, cosy single rooms. The Legacy Lounge, next to the similarly-named restaurant, has soft, plump, inviting chairs to sink into as the barman expertly mixes you a Negroni.
Service & Facilities
You'll love the vast array and choice of experiences on offer; each one connects you even more with the Tuscan culture that's all around you.
- Excursion programme
- Free Wi-Fi
The Aria Junior Suite has a rich, deep purple velvet headboard and matching sofa, and, being on a corner, overlooks both squares. We love the contrast between the contemporary décor and the historic city the hotel is at the centre of.
Piccolo Room, Adagio Room, Vivace Room, Allegro Room, Aria Junior Suite, Puccini Junior Suite, Maestro Suite
Facilities include: ensuite bath or shower, bathrobe and slippers, hairdryer, tea and coffee facilities, TV, free Wi-Fi
Food & Drink
The ambience is laid back and informal, despite the impression given off by the white-linen-clad tables. You'll love the Tordelli Lucchese, crescent-shaped ravioli stuffed with beef or pork, with Swiss chard, pine nuts, raisins, bread, spices and grated cheese.
Legacy Restaurant: traditional Italian cuisine, seasonal ingredients. Dishes include roast baccalà (salt cod) and rovelline Lucchesi (veal escalopes). Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.