The Hostel Santa Monaca has everything a great hostel needs: attentive staff, great location, good beds at a low price (for Florence). There is just one big thing that breaks the deal: Tuscan summers.
Location & Getting There
The Santa Monaca is only a 15 minute walk from the central train station (Santa Maria Novella), which is serviced by bus from both, the Pisa and Florence airports.
All the major attractions are also within walking distance. As a matter of fact, the hostel itself, situated in an ancient monastery, is part of Florence’s vast old town, and it is fun to venture into the other direction to discover palazzi and churches not on every tourist map.
There is a church right next door which occasionally hosts concerts that you can hear sounding up all the way into the hallways. A treat when it’s expertly sung opera.
Rooms & Facilities
I paid 22 euro plus 1.50 euro tourist tax per night for a bed in the smallest, 6-bed dorm. The cheapest available rate is 19 euros for the 22-bed dorm.
Upon arrival I learnt that they had overbooked the property, so I had to move for my third night.
Visiting Florence in the summer might not have been the brightest idea I’ve ever had. All week long temperatures reached the upper 30s. So it doesn’t help that there is no air conditioning whatsoever in the Santa Monaca, even worse, both rooms I stayed in were located right under the roof. Despite the ventilators and going to bed in a damp shirt and undies, I did not sleep much those three nights, and subsequently decided to shell out more for another hostel with a/c.
There was enough space for everyone and their bags plus a table and some stools/chairs and small lockers in the rooms. And they had even added a multi-outlet so all of us could charge our devices at the same time while keeping the fan going.
Upon check-in I got a free towel, which is always nice, as it saves you from the trouble of having to pack your wet towel on the last morning.
Surprisingly, and despite the heat, the three showers for 20 people on my floor were enough. Facilities were clean (the rooms are locked from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day for cleaning), though slightly tired looking.
Internet was a problem for me: the network is available throughout the building. Unfortunately, my tablet would not connect to the Internet. Staff tried to help but couldn’t do more than offer me to work on the 2 public computers in the common area, or use their office computer. Which is nice enough, yet frustrating when you need to be online.
Food & Drinks
Breakfast is not included, and there is no food on site (apart from a snack machine and a coffee machine). There is, however, a small kitchen (4 hobs for 130 beds…). Food can be bought in the supermarket next door to the right, or on the market about 200 meters to the left when leaving the hostel.
The bestest ice cream on Florence (trust me on that one) comes from La Carraia right at the bridge of the same name. The small cone costs only 1.50 euro and us packed with at least 3 scoops worth of the most delicious, creamy and tasty ice cream you could imagine. Needless to say, I trekked the 200 meters there every night.