Siena is notorious for its dearth of decent hotels in the centre of town, so we were delighted to see that Palazzo Ravizza has undergone a facelift and is now a very pleasant place in which to stay. Fortunately, the old-fashioned faded charm has not been sacrificed to modernization. The bedrooms still have their heavy - at times quirky - period furniture (with very comfortable beds) and polished parquet or terracotta floors, but the fabrics have been smartened up and bathrooms are all shining new with heated towel rails. Some even have double Jacuzzis.
The public rooms (in part with smart black and white floor tiles) have pretty painted ceilings and comfortable armchairs and sofas. There is a cosy library, as well as a smart new bar and breakfast room. In the first floor drawing room, pride of place is given to a grand piano donated by Helen Frick, which the owners tell us Ashkenazy has played on his visits.
The garden at the back is a great asset and has recently been re-designed in formal Italian style: it provides a cool and shady respite from the city heat, and tables are laid outside for breakfast (which includes excellent breads) in the summer. We recently found the Palazzo Ravizza keeping up its high standards, with friendly, professional staff and a calm atmosphere. 'A gracious, spacious, pleasantly old-fashioned hotel, with the feel of an Oxford college.'