Florence, like the other heavily touristed cities in Italy, is expensive for travelers. There are a couple of things about Florence that make it easier to spend quality time there without spending a fortune as well. One is that it is a popular place for students to come to study language (among other things), so you know there have to be options for people on a student’s budget. The other is that there are several high-quality hostels right in the historic center of Florence. One of the larger hostels is the Hostel Archi Rossi on Via Faenza near the train station.
The Archi Rossi Hostel (Ostello Archi Rossi in Italian – the neon sign above the door is in Italian, so look for the big blue “Ostello” sign) is just a few minutes walk from Florence’s Santa Maria Novella train station, and only another few minutes walk from most of the stuff you want to see and do in Florence. The reception area is blessed with two-story-high walls, almost all of which are covered in paintings done by previous guests – and these aren’t random graffiti or amateur artwork, either. The murals are beautiful, colorful, and clearly done by people with some serious art training. I didn’t ask, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the people who did them were art students in Florence who happened to be calling the Ostello Archi Rossi home during their schooling.
I was given a tour of the hostel by Angela, whose English is impeccable; there were a few people at the front desk when I walked in, all of whom spoke at least a little English. I visited during the period when the rooms were closed for cleaning (the common areas and reception are always open), so was able to get a peek at several different kinds of rooms as well as the common areas.
L-R: Reception area; breakfast/common room (the garden is out the doors to the right)
The Hostel Archi Rossi occupies an historic building, so from the outside it looks much like every other building on Via Faenza – but inside, it’s definitely a cozy and comfortable hostel. All the hallway walls are covered with the graffiti of years and years of travelers (I challenge you to find a bare spot to add your name – and I’m not counting the ceiling), and the rooms are comfortable and brightly lit. Angela told me they’re going to be changing the furniture in the rooms relatively soon, so these photos will reflect only the furniture that was in the rooms when I visited in mid-March 2008.
Example of a triple room
L-R: Example of a single room (disabled access); example of a bedroom with en suite bathroom and computer
The common areas of the Archi Rossi Hostel include a bright and sunny breakfast room and a patio and garden area just off of that; it was a lovely day when I visited, so the garden in particular looked wonderfully appealing with its chairs set up in perfect positions to soak up the sun! Most of the hostel guests were out for the day, so I didn’t see many people around, but most of the dorms were occupied. In addition to the computers next to the reception desk which are available for all guests, there are also computers in almost all the rooms as well – so you can be online without leaving your room (unless someone’s using that computer, in which case you can come down and use the ones near reception).
Garden and patio just off the breakfast/common room
One of the nicest things about Hostel Archi Rossi was certainly its location – being roughly between the train station and the Piazza del Duomo means that it’s easy to get around on foot, and it also means that it’s not right smack dab in the middle of everything. That might seem counter-intuitive, but it means that the street outside the hostel isn’t as noisy as some of the other streets right around the Duomo – yet you’re within a few minutes of the Duomo on foot.
Examples of some of the murals in the reception area
Ostello Archi Rossi is a great choice in Florence if you’re on a budget or you just want to make sure you’re in a place where you can meet other travelers.
Location: Via Faenza 94R 50123 Florence – a few minutes walk from the train station and most of the main attractions
Contact Information: tel: +39 055 290 804, fax: +39 055 230 2601
Common Areas: reception, computer area, TV room, garden/patio, breakfast room
Dorms: The largest dorm has 9 beds; there are 147 beds in the hostel in total; the rooms vary from those with en suite bathrooms to those which make use of shared bathrooms down the hall.
Private Rooms: The smallest room is for 1 person. There are bedrooms and bathrooms for disabled access.
Curfew/Lockout: Reception is open from 06:30 until 02:00, rooms only are closed between 11:00-14:30 (common areas and reception are always open)
Check-in/Check-out: Check-in is after 14:30, check-out is 10:00
Safety: The area around the hostel is quiet, it’s not a super-busy street, and it felt very safe. There are luggage lockers in the room for your stuff while you are out, and luggage storage is near reception (where they can watch it) if you check out early and still want to spend time in the city.
Fun Factor: The colorful guest-contributed graffiti on the walls, not to mention the walking tours available from the hostel, give Archi Rossi a very friendly and fun atmosphere. This seems like a great place to meet other travelers.
Freebies: breakfast, internet & WiFi, daily guided walking tours of Florence (not available year-round), bed linens, luggage lockers, luggage storage
Extras You’ve Got to Pay For: N/A
Transportation Options: It’s within a few steps of the main train station, where there’s a big bus stop if you need to catch the bus anywhere in Florence – but you’ll be able to walk to nearly every sight in the city from the hostel’s front door.
Good to Know: There’s an elevator in the hostel, so the rooms that are set up for disabled access aren’t all on the main floor. They’re accessible, though, and each floor that has disabled bedrooms also has a disabled-accessible bathroom.
You will book your room online using your credit card, and on the morning of the day you will arrive at the hostel your credit card will be charged for the first night’s stay. If the credit card transaction does not go through, your entire reservation will be cancelled – so be sure you type in the correct credit card information!
Payment Accepted: major credit cards, cash
Booking: Hostel Archi Rossi booking