Unbelievably friendly and warm staff who gladly gave expert travel advice and recommendations that only a Roman would normally be privy to. - Loic Diels
I LOVE this website and will gladly recommend it to anyone headed this way. Nothing disappointed us! - Mary-Iris Taylor
I have been using Cross-Pollinate for about 10 years now. The service is consistently great and I can always find just the kind of apartment we like, at the right price. - Hirani Himona
A really great idea - with a network of hand picked little rooms/guesthouses. If only we could have this in more city destinations! - Zoe Buck
I love Cross-Pollinate and every time we go to a new city I look to see whether they have some accommodations over there. - Arantza Aldea
The two places I have stayed at from Cross-Pollinate have been among the best across Europe. Highly recommended. - Nicholas Burn
Thanks a lot to Cross-Pollinate for the opportunity to experience a city as an insider! We really enjoyed our stay in Rome and Venice and look forward to more. - Tatiana Marchenko
Cross-Pollinate was very helpful when the owner of the B&B wanted to charge us for the baby under 2 y o. It would have been difficult without them since the owners did not speak any english. - Yulia Pichugina
This was our only stay with a C-P apartment and we were very pleased with the entire process. Will look to use them again on our next Europe trip! - Anthony Giglio
Great web site and quick response from the team a CP made the whole experience easy and hassle free. I have already recommended CP to quite of few of my airline industry colleagues and I'm sure they will make use of their excellent service. - Shane Pickles
Cross-Pollinate was extremely helpful! They found us a place to stay in our price range when many other places of business couldn't help us. - Sarah Seminutin
Cross-Pollinate was very easy to use, and it is so much better to stay in places like these than big corporate hotels; you get a much better feel for the place. - Kaspar Deane
Very straight forward. Well done. Definitely would use it again. Love these type of alternatives to hotels! - John White
Cross-Pollinate was fantastic and easy to use. We used Cross-Pollinate to book a room in Florence (the second leg of our trip), which was everything I thought it would be. We have recommended Cross-Pollinate to our friends. - Barbara Carlin
Cross-Pollinate are great - the descriptions are accurate and they are very responsive to questions. - Dominique Bayne
Cross Pollinate was just the best. I had tried a couple of places before coming upon them. As soon as I sent the first email I stopped looking for any more websites. I just wish they expanded to every city in Europe. Their knowledge, helpfulness, etc. was second to none. - Caroline Collis
Casa Billi Guesthouse
Casa Billi has a good story - the original business was formed by Lorenzo's family after WWII, having moved to Florence with close to nothing from the Chianti countryside. The neighborhood, at the time, was all craftsman and blue collar workers - perhaps a barber here and a house painter there, but all without money. On the side, Lorenzo's family decided to start a little guesthouse and take in renters. This small family business, now over 50 years later, is still around, today run by a new generation of Billi's - Lorenzo and his wife, Anna. It has the designation of "Esercizio Storico" which means that it is protected as an historical business.

Part of it still has that air of the traditional pensione - a cheaper version of "A Room with a View". In other ways, it's pretty modernized - the bathrooms are all recently renovated and Lorenzo and Anna are constantly updating the place, either repainting the walls or restoring some piece of furniture. Since they live there too, they are in a constant state of keeping the place maintained and trying to improve it.

The rooms themselves are basic, but that's the point - to have something inexpensive and with the basic comforts, that allows people to come to Florence and experience the city without having to spend a huge amount of money. Some rooms have private bathroom and mini-fridges, while the rest share a common bathroom.

Probably the biggest draw is the location. It's about a 5 minute walk from the central train station, Santa Maria Novella, on Via Faenza (the area preferred by Rick Steves) which is also about half way to the Duomo. It's a short walk to everything in the center, and an area that's really well serviced for the tourist.

A couple of particular points to mention are that:

1. If you arrive after 3pm, you need to contact them in advance - they'll give you a code to enter and you'll be met by them the next day for payment and for any other check in issues.

2. There is an elevator, but it needs a key and can only be used when the owner has checked you in and given you the key, so if you check in after 3pm with the code, you won't have access to the elevator until the following day.
  • 2nd floor
  • TV
  • WiFi
  • computer with free Internet in common area
  • air-conditioning
  • hair dryer
  • linen and towels provided
  • with elevator
Graham Foran on Jan 2017:

the apartment was so close to EVERYTHING! Lourenzo (Billi) was very friendly and helpful. The room was clean, modern, convenient and comfortable. (it is located in an older building, but that gave it character.) Great, inexpensive restaurants all around. We soon had our favorites. Gelato just down the street! We loved Florence and the room made eveyrthing super convenient. We called our daughters and recommended Florence and Casa Billi to them.
The satellite TV was mostly Arabic, Russian and Thai?, but we didn`t go to Florence to watch TV!
I am a dedicated zealot now! I will never make a European trip without checking to see if Cross-Pollinate has something in the area first.
Sharon on Oct 2016:

It was close to train station. It was quiet
Too small a room for 3 adults. Might work for 2 and a kid. Too dark and Way too small for what was being charged a night.
It worked well, but was slow to get a response.
Amy purdum on Sep 2016:

Close to the main sites Clean room- clean shared bathroom but we didn't notice anyone else using it Beds comfortable- quiet room despite being loud outside you couldn't hear any of the noise Lorenzo was sweet and helpful
Wifi didnt work well- or at all for that matter. Very spotty No breakfast included. Room kind of small and outdated.
Great experience. They responded to any questions I had as well promptly
Lucia Sartor on Sep 2016:

Room was very clean and great location. The street was very lively with restaurants and cafes. Right behind was the large food market in Florence. Would highly recommend staying at Casa Billi.
Cross-Pollinate was efficient and very easy to use. Next time in Italy will use Cross-Pollinate again!
Darien Bucher on Jun 2016:

Casa Billi Guesthouse is superbly located in the middle of Florence, and unlike hostels, a guest may have privacy here.
I would use it again!
Maggie Monroe on May 2016:

The location was awesome! The towels were nice, the bathroom was clean, shower water was hot. Lorenzo was kind and offered to help us reserve museum tickets. The room was spacious.
Everything was great. The only thing that was annoying was that we had to share a bathroom so when I had to go really bad I had to wait until that person was out of the shower.
The website and booking process is very friendly. I will use them again and again.
Nat on Sep 2015:

The room was spacious and comfortable. Lorenzo is helpful, kind and fun. The place is very conveniently located.
You have to carry your bags a few steps, but that happens every where in Europe
I had a good time there.
Danielle on Jun 2015:

- Great location, probably 5-8 minute walk from the Duomo and 5 minute walk from the train station on a nice little street. - Rooms were small but well-kept - Bathroom was only shared with one or two other rooms
- Front desk hours were a bit erratic; it's best if you have a phone or can email the owner - We wound up staying in two different rooms and noticed that while our first room had fair wifi the second had very poor wifi. We just went out into the hall and the signal was stronger so this is not a deal-breaker but be aware that signal may be stronger in some rooms than others
- Loved the site, the process of booking was smooth and the rooms were good value.
on May 2015:

Great location, less than 5 minute walk to the train station and 10 minute walk to all major sights. Price was also a great deal compared to other options in same location. Other than neighbor/bathroom noise, very quiet room, with window away from the street
Shared bathroom and shower is less than ideal, probably wouldn't book again for that reason.
Just to clarify for future guests - Casa Billi does have rooms with ensuite, private bathrooms, but this guest requested a room with shared bath.
Jordan Marchand on Apr 2015:

Location, Bed
Room was very damp and cold. Also computers in lobby advertised, but none seen except staff computer....somewhat misleading.
Very useful, great site.
Admin on 27. Apr 2015:
We're sorry if you were cold and the room was damp. There's heating that you can control, as well as a dehumidifier, by remote control. There is indeed a computer that you're welcome to use. Lorenzo, the owner, says you hadn't mentioned either of these things to him, which would have cleared it up immediately.
Angie on Oct 2014:

Lorenzo was so welcoming and kind. He made wonderful recommendations for places to eat and visit! The room had a lot of character, was spacious and clean, and Casa Billi itself is in a great location close to the train station and sites.
Wonderful!!! Great network of cool places to stay. Loved The Beehive in Rome as well as Casa Billi in Florence!!
martin on Oct 2014:

great value of money with shared bathroom. Clean and tidy room and Helpful staff
Carla Harder on Sep 2014:

location, cleanliness, helpful staff.
when I left the property in the morning i had to leave the keys which activate the elevator. As I was flying out I had all my luggage with me and had to use the stairs. there was little to no light in the hallway and i fell on the last few steps sprained my ankle. no big deal...but would be good to have lighting that activated in hallway at least. I would say that casa Billi is more of a hostel/hotel and not a b&b and would be good to make this explicit.
Excellent service
Stephen Titcomb on Sep 2014:

Great location close to the Train Station, the Public Market and the Duomo!! Lorenzo made us feel welcomed right away, which is so important when you are traveling and don't speak the language.
I can't thank Steve, at Cross-pollinate enough for helping us find accommodations in three cities during our recent tour of Italy. It is a lot of work to find and book multiple accommodations. Cross-Pollinate came up with interesting places to stay that fit our budget and were in great locations.
Aparna on Jun 2014:

Location was great!
A few breakfast items in the morning would have been nice.j
Definitely will contact them on my next trip!!
Chris Wasil on Jun 2014:

Lorenzo and Anna are fantastic hosts. This was my first time and Europe, and I was traveling alone -- they made me feel like I had instant friends in Florence. When they aren't around, they make themselves available by cell phone. The space is very clean and well cared for. Comfortable bed, A/C (so nice). Convenient to the train station and favorite sites. I was nervous about having a shared bathroom, but there aren't that many rooms, so I never had to wait to use it.
Can't think of anything -- it was fantastic.
Couldn't have been easier.
Carrie on May 2014:

I liked the location and proximity to everything around Florence. The train station is only about a 5-10 minute walk. The staff was very friendly.
The shower was hard to keep from spraying on the outside when you would open the door to turn it on. Perhaps a bath mat would help keep the floors dry?
Cross pollinate helped us find Casa Billi Guesthouse, and we are very glad we used it!
Sheila Wooller on Oct 2013:

The staff was helpful. Most sites were within walking distance. Booking an extra day before we arrived went smoothly.
It met all our expectations.
Good experience. I would recommend your service.
Beata Urzedowska on Oct 2013:

Location was very good, room was spacious and clean, we had shared bathroom and it was nice and clean as well.
(1) What botherd us : * Air conditioner was not working and it was very cold at night, there was only one single blanket in the cardboard while we were two. We were not sure if AC was not working or it was blocked. The result is we were not able to use it and it was too late to check with the owner. The elevator is only for check in and out. This has to be clearly mentioned specially for people who has problems with stairs. (2)Another just notes that can help the place to be better: * in the shared bathroom: The hanger for towels is located very law and the rubbish bin is just below the hanger so it is ridicules to hang the towels that can touch the bin. I keep moving it to another place yet every time it was back. * Plus there were carpets on the floor in the room that are designed for Muslims to pray on it (the green with the mosque on it) I know not everybody is aware of how it looks, but I think it might be offensive for Muslims to see such a carpet on the floor. It was not something that offended us but we live in the Islamic country and we believe it should be considered just to avoid some unpleasant situation with Muslims guests. Overall the place was very good for its value.
Re Cross-pollinate - it was 1st time to use this service and I'm very happy with it. Information was clear and helpful. And definatelly i will use it in the future.
Admin on 21. Oct 2013:
I'm sure if you would have asked for another blanket or advised the owner about the AC, he could have fixed the problem. Might have just been in need of a battery change or something. However, it seems you never mentioned it. As for the elevator, this is noted in the description of the property. Regarding the rug, Lorenzo says he never gave any thought as to potential religious connotations but that it was bought at a very generic store. If someone is offended, I'm sure he'll be happy to remove it and offer his apologies.
Steve Struthers on Sep 2013:

Great location. Room #1 was fairly spacious, with its own bathroom. Staff/owner was very welcoming.
WiFi signal was a little weak in our room.
Jessica on Jul 2013:

Location!! It was amazing! Could not have asked for a better location. It was also great that he stayed and waited for me to arrive to give me the key, even though I was a couple hours late from my expected arrival time. Very kind and helpful!
Nothing. I got what I expected for a "guesthouse" and for the price. The walls are pretty thin I guess and the other guests were loud, but I was ok with it.
Very helpful!! Thank you so much Cross-Pollinate!
Megan and Steven Lashley on Jul 2013:

We liked how close it was to the train station and other big sights in the city. We were grateful that we could keep our bags at the guesthouse after our checkout time.
Luann McVey on Jun 2013:

The room was clean and the location was great for us. We also appreciated the wifi.
Cross-Pollinate has been really helpful - we feel we can count on the places you recommend. We're currently staying at La Luna Studio apartment in Venice, which we accessed through the CP website. Thanks for your help.
Katie on May 2013:

location, staff, bed, cleanliness
the shared bathroom floor was always soaking wet because the shower leaked and there was never a bathmat to soak it up. the computer in the hallway was SOOOO slow. i couldnt even use it. the elevator never seemed to work would have been nice to have a small desk in my room, instead of two huge closets which 1 single person does not need.
thank you cross pollinate for helping me! I love your service. I will use it again when I head to Paris.
Admin on 16. Jun 2013:
We actually put in the listing that there is NO elevator, specifically so guests wouldn't be disappointed. There is an elevator but it is private use for other floors and Casa Billi guests don't have access to it.
Patricia on May 2013:

The owner, Lorenzo, was so welcoming, friendly, and helpful. He spent some time with us at check-in to give us an quick overview of Florence and make some restaurant recommendations. We had 3 rooms for our group of 6. We were able to leave our luggage after check-out to pick up later in the day before heading to the nearby train station. Florence is very walkable, and this location was convenient. Overall, a good value and location! I would definitely recommend this "historical business" as Lorenzo described it, and would not hesitate to return!
We were glad to have Wi-Fi, but it was a bit inconsistent in certain locations in our room - not a big issue though. The shower stall in room 1 leaked and left the floor wet - not a big problem for us (just threw down a towel), but I worry that it could cause damage in the long run.
Excellent and prompt responses to our questions about the location and booking, which was just a bit more complicated since we had to book 3 rooms separately - but they made it easy!
Lynette on May 2013:

Could not use wifi
Has been good.
average score
4.6 / 5.0
Accuracy of listing
Helpfulness of owner / staff / host
Helpfulness of Cross-Pollinate
Booking details
Booking details: guesthouse (owner lives on premises), 7 guestrooms, some rooms with private bathroom (ensuite)
Payment accepted: cash on arrival in euro, Visa, Mastercard, Maestro card, Diners Club card, CartaSi, JCB card, American Express
Minimum stay: no minimum stay
Cancellations allowed up to: 5 days before arrival
Occupancy: double
Bed options: 1 queen (160 cm) or 2 singles
Policies & Extra Charges: luggage can be held before check-in, luggage can be left after check-out, non-smoking, check-out time is 10 am, room will be ready by 12 pm for check-in, city tourist tax €4 per person per night (not included in price)
Spoken Language(s):
Rates and Availability
 Casa Billi Guesthouse
Stazione Santa Maria Novella
Boboli Gardens
Ponte Vecchio
Piazza della Signoria
Galleria dell’Accademia
Pitti Palace
Piazza Santo Spirito
Mercato Centrale