In Rick Steves' Italy 2014, on page 553, the Hotel Europa is listed as a lower priced hotel with views of the Duomo. All of this is true, it is a great place to stay for the budget-minded. However, beware there is another Hotel Europa nearby. The other Hotel Europa is about 30 minutes outside of Florence, and it is more accurately called Hotel Europa Signa. Their logo and much of their literature says Hotel Europa Florence so it is very misleading. I booked four nights online and noticed that it was NONREFUNDABLE, but I had no reason to change plans so I proceeded with the reservation. The next day I walked from the Santa Maria Novella train station to the REAL Hotel Europa only to learn I was actually booked at the hotel in Signa. At that point I told myself that I had made a mistake and I would have to live with it and just take the train back and forth every day. The train ride to Signa is only 2.5 euros one-way. I am sure Signa is a very nice community, and the Hotel Europa Signa is actually a nice hotel, however if you want to be near the wonder that is Florence this is the wrong place for you. After a few minutes in Signa I decided it was too rural as my time in florence was short. I explained to the man at the front desk that I had made an error, and asked if I could obtain a refund for three days. He explained that my reservation was nonrefundable. I expected his response, and had already planned to abandon my reservation and simply 'eat' three days of hotel fees. The next morning, to the shock of the nice lady at the reception desk, I checked out and paid the government hotel tax of 1.5 additional euros (salt applied directly to wound). Rick's information is accurate, just please make sure you book the Hotel Europa you want.
Thanks for the heads up! I'm sorry this happened to you, but appreciate you coming on here and letting others learn from your mistake.
Sorry you experienced this, Dave. I don't know how long ago this was, or through what channel you booked your room. Spurred by you, I just went to the web sites of these two hotels, as they read today. Hotel Europa indicates it overlooks the Duomo and bell tower in Florence. Hotel Europa Signa prominently mentions several times on its home page, including via a map, that it is a four-star hotel located a 20-minute train ride from Florence. Maybe the second web site has changed dramatically, even due to your reaction and others, or maybe the fault lies with a booking service you used, but at the moment, I think it is unfair to dump this issue on the hotel itself.
The other thing I would add is that Hotel Europa is a very common name for hotels in Europe. Don't know why. Our favorite hotel in Madrid is Hotel Europa. With any reservation you should always check location, map, etc. and especially dates because of the European format and often their posted calender week starts with Monday. Check, double check, triple check. And you can still get the wrong dates as we recently did in Rome.
This type of thing is easy to goof up.
Another similar uh-oh to avoid is booking the 'Hotel Europa' in Bologna, or Rome, or Paris...instead of Florence!
Double- and Triple-check those hotels, restaurants, museums, etc.
I hope you enjoyed your view of the Duomo...I would!