Lights, street markets, the smell of cakes and confectionery, and glittering shop windows – no doubt about it, Christmas is on its way. And we’re getting ready to celebrate with our loved ones, relatives and colleagues. We asked Doris Pauket of the Bernini Palace Reservation Department for advice on how to make this time of year special.
Let’s start with families: Christmas is, by tradition, a holiday in which relatives gather round sumptuously laid tables. What are the advantages of spending Christmas at the hotel, and how do you make it memorable?
Celebrating Christmas in the hotel means offering your parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles an opportunity to relax without having to host a dinner or a lunch, which involves doing the shopping, putting up the decorations and getting the house ready. It’s like a present you all give to each other together. I must say that this year we have received a lot of requests, from December 8 onwards. It’s not only Florentines come to the hotel but also people from other regions, and foreigners who exploit the occasion for a short holiday in the city. We are in Florence after all, so you couldn’t ask for a better place to stay. Some families have chosen to gather for New Year’s Eve and we’ll be organising a gala dinner in our Sala Parlamento for the occasion, with a special menu, specially selected wines and a toast at midnight.
More and more people like to celebrate Christmas with friends and colleagues. It’s a formula based on the desire to meet and exchange presents before returning to their city of origin for the holidays. What do you suggest?
Ideally, an intimate, cosy place, but with special proposals to satisfy the most discerning palates. At the Bernini Palace we have the Lounge, one of the most elegant meeting places anywhere in the centre of Florence. It is especially atmospheric of an evening with its Christmas bright lights and decorations. My advice is to ask the barman for a Gold Martini, garnished with golf leaf, a Christmassy baroque touch very much in keeping with the location.
How would you organize and decorate an office Christmas party? How would it differ from a family party?
For companies, it’s a way of presenting themselves, creating engagements and consolidating links between clients, employees and colleagues. Hence personalised solutions that reflect the identity and distinctiveness of the brand. I suggest booking well in advance to allow us to create a bespoke event. We offer thematic menus enhanced by Christmas centrepieces and decorations in a very elegant setting. The location depends on the number of guests: La Chiostrina, the restaurant housed in a converted 16th-century loggia, is perfect for 30-35 people. For larger parties we have the historic Sala Parlamento, with its frescoed ceilings, frequented by members of parliament when Florence was the capital of the Kingdom of Italy. I have to say that even now, after so many years here, it still fills me with a sense of wonderment.
One last piece of advice: Some companies like to give their employees Christmas presents: which, in your opinion, are the most suitable?
Maybe “useful” presents such as trend-setting gadgets and personal items. The best ones are creative, personalised and original. If I were to suggest one idea in particular, I’d say a business card case, made of leather maybe. Florence boasts a long tradition of this kind of craftsmanship thanks to workshops like the ones that collaborate with the Bernini Palace, whenever the occasion arises.