Ibis Firenze Prato EST – A Review By Punam Mohandas
The Ibis Firenze Prato Est has 127-keys and offers free wifi throughout the hotel. The lobby is small, bright and airy, done up in the typical Ibis red and orange colours. There is a vending machine with beverages for guest convenience, as also two computers for guest use, with complimentary fax and printing facilities.
The accommodation is divided into Standard Twin and Standard King categories, with eight handicapped rooms to its credit. All the twin rooms are on the ground floor. As of now the décor and furnishings are different, but will soon be adapted to the design of the fourth floor, which has been recently renovated in December 2016.
The rooms for the differently abled have larger bathrooms, with uniquely styled sinks and the WC is higher too. It appears quite some thought has gone into making these as comfortable as possible; only these rooms provide bathtubs and the hotel has special contraptions that can lower a person with ease into the tub. There is also an extra bed in the bedroom, for the companion/carer. Furthermore, the lifts in the hotel have been so designed as to accommodate a wheelchair.
The Standard King rooms have the light coloured furniture typical of all Ibis hotels. The new slate grey carpeting offsets grey walls and one reddish-orange chair, while the bathroom, which juts out like an angular cubicle, has pale blue paneling. There is a full-length mirror and flat TV. Narrow bedside tables with lamps on either side of the bed complete the fittings.
The bathrooms are surprisingly large for an Ibis hotel, which means the shower cubicle is quite spacious. (Apparently. Italian law regulates and specifies a standard size for rooms and bathrooms for all 3* properties.) This space is quite bare otherwise, barring a liquid soap dispenser and a green coloured washbasin; no shower caps etc. The hot water as well as air conditioning is highly effective, which speaks of an efficient engineering system.
There are no add-ons in the rooms, such as tea/coffee maker or safe. However, valuables can be placed in the safe downstairs at Reception while, for the former, since the bar is open 24-hours (see below) there is not much inconvenience. Iron and ironing board is available on request.
The 60-covers restaurant is open for breakfast only. As per Ibis standards, the main breakfast is from 6-10am, although “mini” breakfasts are offered from between 4-6.30am and 10am-12pm. It is a fairly basic spread, although it includes local treats such as biscotti and macaroons as well. There is a bar by the Reception that offers complimentary tea/coffee 24-hours as also snacks such as potato chips and pretzels. Alcohol is to be paid for (Happy Hours are organized once or twice a week, depending on occupancy) and no alcohol can be served between 1-6am, by law. The bar also serves fresh fruit and salads and a selection of ready-to-eat, microwaved meals. For meals, guests usually head to the adjacent mall or to Prato/Florence.
In deference to the Accor environmental programme, the Ibis Prato has a small vegetable patch with cucumbers and tomatoes and herbs such as mint and rosemary – all of which can be used in in-house salads or cocktails. Apart from this, each floor has three different garbage recycling bins.
As this is a hotel mainly used by people on business to Florence or else, wholesale dealers and is not really meant for groups, it offers no meeting rooms or convention facilities. There is adequate parking both to the front and back of the hotel.
There is no swimming pool at the Ibis Prato. There is, however, a very nice outdoor lawn space with sun loungers. There is also space on the patio for between 20-30 covers, so that one can have breakfast or cocktails here.
The F&B staff are cheerful and helpful. Front office staff are quite proper; perhaps they could unbend slightly to be friendlier.
There is no traffic noise that permeates through to the rooms, even though the hotel is close to the main road connecting to Florence. It can be somewhat confusing reaching the hotel as it is on the outskirts of Prato – although not far from the main sights – so please see the directions as below.
The Ibis Prato is midway between Prato and Florence (Firenze) although it is somewhat closer to the latter. The hotel is opposite the relatively new mall called I Gigli and the bus stop is just outside the hotel. It takes 10-minutes to reach Prato’s railway station by bus (1.70 euros) which is also the bus depot and the centre of town. From here, it is about a 10-minute walk to Piazza San Marco and another five minutes from here to the castle and the old part of town. Prato is famous for its almond biscotti (locally also called ‘cantucci’) and you will find many patisseries offering this, although Antonio Mattei on via Ricasoli in the old quarter is said to be the most famous.
From Prato to Florence by train is just 20-minutes (2.60 euros one way.) Most tourists to Firenze head to see the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo and the Uffizi Gallery with Michelangelo’s famous David statue. All of these are within proximity to each other and you can walk to Ponte Vecchio from the train station in 20-minutes or else, take a bus. Getting the bus back from Florence to I Gigli can be quite daunting as you have to go to a separate station by a local bus. If you want to avoid the confusion, just catch the train back to Prato.
All major airlines fly into Florence, however, this can be an expensive proposition. If price is the criteria, then you can consider flying into Milan, which is a much cheaper option and then take the train to Florence or Prato directly (Train, Milan to Prato = 28 euros.)
IBIS FIRENZE PRATO EST
TEL: +39 05589851
FAX: +39 0558974648
Punam Mohandas asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author.