Borghese Palace Art Hotel

Many people who stay at the Borghese Palace Art Hotel at Via Ghibellina 174/r complain about the faulty air-conditioning and broken toilets, cramped rooms and tiny bathrooms, paper-thin walls and mouldy showers, unhelpful staff and overall air of grubbiness. But the root of the problem lies not so much in the hotel itself, but in the very unpleasant woman who owns it. As we know, a fish rots from the head down. Let us proceed to see how this happens in practice...

Anyone who has booked a room facing the inner courtyard will be surprised to find views not of Brunelleschi’s famous Renaissance dome or the Gothic spires of Santa Croce, but disfiguring scaffolding. This is strange, because while the scaffolding always remains up, no work ever seems to take place. The reason for this is because the proprietor of the hotel ordered maintenance work to be done, then for five years simply decided not to fulfil her contractual obligations and not to pay the builder – simply for the sheer joy of depriving a worker of his money. She knows only too well the pointlessness of the builder appealing to the overworked, corrupt and discredited Italian court system – and takes great delight in the power which this knowledge brings, allowing her to be mean and petty to a simple workman who carried out honest work for the hotel, simply because she can. Do you really want to stay in such a place?

One might wonder at why someone should take such pleasure in being so mean and petty, but Dante describes many such people in his classical work of literature Inferno. This rich and odious woman is simply continuing the tradition of other members of the human race who delight in committing petty little actions to deliberately inflict hardship on others. So the builder has not been paid, the work has not been finished and guests paying no small money to stay at the Borghese Palace Art Hotel are forced to look outside their windows at what is, effectively, a building site.

But there is comfort in numbers and please be assured that you are not the only ones! Among others who are the victims of the proprietor’s misanthopy are the long-suffering residents who live in the same building – yes, if you stay at this hotel, you will have to live alongside the homes of local people, many of whom are extremely anti-social and keep up an infernal racket for hours on end – usually just when a guest wants to relax or get some sleep...

One example of the nasty little actions inflicted on the native inhabitants of Florence. In a daily ritual, a wire-haired terrier is led out onto Via dei Pandolfini, which forms the back entrance of the hotel, and deliberately taken around every car parked on the street, so that it can lift its leg against the wheel. The dog is actively encouraged to do much more in the doorways of any house in which the residents might have complained about anti-social behaviour and noise coming from the hotel.

What form does this anti-social behaviour and noise take? On Friday nights, the Borghese Palace Art Hotel has the habit of organising loud and tasteless chanson concerts for tackily dressed locals. The volume of the noise is terrible and fills all the surrounding streets, not to mention every nook and crevice of the hotel itself. Not only is the singing horrendously loud, but it is the most appalling type of “cruise-ship” crooning, without any artistic taste or merit whatsoever. When they book a male singer, at least he more or less sings in tune as he belts out his dubious muzak; on the nights when it is a female singer, beware, because she cannot hold a note to save her life.

All this goes on in the lobby bar all evening until midnight, making for a nightmare experience if you are tired after an active day’s sightseeing or planning an early night before catching a flight or train the next morning. On other occasions, loud groups of people play on the foyer piano. The noise echoes up the elevator shaft and continues well after midnight – which is illegal under both Italian and European law. Do not bother complaining by calling the desk staff; the hotel makes money from these concerts and is not interested in the well-being of its paying guests.

The broken air-conditioning machine on the roof issues an intrusive humming sound all day and night, breaking the sleep and ruining the life of anyone whose room faces this particular inner courtyard. Raising this matter is, by common consent, pointless; in fact, the proprietor will probably only take fresh delight in your discomfort and inability to sleep. Add the perpetual noise all night from the staff of the Circolo Borghese, which occupies the same building, and you are guaranteed a stay in Florence you will never want to remember but will never be able to forget!

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