When your plans lead to Rome, one of the most quintessential travel destinations, you can unpack your bags in a turn-of-the-century palace at the top of the Spanish Steps (where Grace Kelly honeymooned).
You can also settle into a 1960-era hotel with a three-Michelin-starred restaurant on Rome’s highest hill.
With so many properties vying for your attention among the bustling piazzas and winding side streets, let us point you to the worthiest Roman hotels, as chosen by T+L readers in our annual World’s Best Awards survey.
1. Hotel de Russie
This hotel — an updated 19th-century palazzo with 122 rooms and phenomenal terraced gardens set between Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps — makes sophistication look easy. Open since 2000, it’s become a favourite of Hollywood elite, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s got a great location near some of the city’s best shopping on Via Condotti; luxe accommodations in a thoughtfully refurbished landmark building; a rare urban oasis of green; and concierges who know the ins and outs of every neighbourhood in Rome.
Its distinctive modern interiors are an eclectic mix of pastels, handsome dark woods, and walls accented with Mapplethorpe photography; there’s even an on-site spa with Turkish bath.
The respected on-site restaurant serves classic Italian dishes, but guests wax most poetic about the hotel’s tiered hillside garden studded with classical statues; to add to its oasis-like feel, there’s even a butterfly sanctuary. The view is especially pleasant in summer, when the lively Stravinskij martini bar offers alfresco sipping under the palms.
2. Hotel Hassler Roma
Grace Kelly honeymooned at this turn-of-the-century palace at the top of the Spanish Steps, and it’s still the hotel of choice for many of today’s celebs and stylish tastemakers in search of old-world elegance (Gwyneth, TomKat, and Victoria Beckhamare all regulars).
Renowned for its personalised service, the Hassler is a family affair; a place where guest relations are taken very seriously.
The 95 stately rooms are a checklist of classic good taste, with elaborate moldings, gilded furniture, French silks, 16th-century antiques, Limoges porcelain, playful frescoes, and marble, marble, marble, plus mod cons like flat-screen TV’s.
Imàgo, its modern Italian restaurant, has heart-stopping views of St. Peter’s Basilica and Rome’s terracotta-tiled roofs. And the concierges can accommodate just about any request, including mapping out routes through the Villa Borghese gardens, near the hotel.
3. Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts
Three miles outside the city center, this sprawling 1960 urban hotel with a 15-acre private park sits atop the highest hill in Rome, offering sweeping city views. (An efficient shuttle ferries guests to and from the city center.)
Despite its mod exterior, the hotel exudes culture and sophistication; works from owner Angelo Guido Terruzzi’s art collection, which includes an original Tiepolo, adorn the halls.
The 370 rooms are generously proportioned, with suites and Imperian floor rooms offering the most space (and style), in addition to a private elevator and a stable of business-friendly amenities.
There’s an on-site spa and gym (and the city’s largest pool), but the hotel’s three-Michelin-starred panoramic restaurant, La Pergola — and chef Heinz Beck’s white asparagus au gratin with Parmesan mousse — is reason enough to consider this “out of the way” location.
4. Westin Excelsior, Rome
With prime real estate in Via Veneto, this Beaux-Arts hotel has a history dating back to 1906. Guest rooms in the 281-room, 35-suite hotel feature damask wall and window coverings, crystal chandeliers, and either a gold-tan-mustard inflected Biedermeier style or gold-cream-wine hued Empire style decor.
Common areas are equally as lavish with antiques, enormous chandeliers, and expanses of marble on floors and walls. Chef James Foglieni’s Doney Restaurant serves a regional Italian menu and boasts a sidewalk patio right on Via Veneto.
5. St. Regis Grand Hotel
This opulent 19th-century landmark palace opened by César Ritz and designed by architect Giulio Podesti, a 10-minute walk from the Via Veneto, made the most of its $US35 million restoration in 2007.
Guests step into a luxurious haven, with hand-painted frescoes forming dramatic backdrops to tufted guest-room headboards, 24-hour “e-butler” service, and chandeliers made from hand-blown Murano glass.
The 161 ravishing rooms feature décor from the Italo-Franco Louis XVI, Regency, and Empire periods and furniture evocative of the Mediterranean’s regal lineage from all eras; expect rich velvets, inlaid woods, carved marble, and fine Pratesi linens.
Bathrooms come with travertine marble and Laura Tonatto toiletries, while the on-site health club (accessed via the hotel’s original wrought-iron elevator) is state of the art. If dining in, book a table in the cozy wine cellar of the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, Vivendo.
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