Rome is notoriously hot in the summer months. So, while making a list of how to maximize seeing the Eternal City’s more than 2,700-year-old history, you’ll also need to add places to cool off to the agenda. Remember, Rome is full of secrets, including where it hides some of the city’s loveliest pools. Whether in a beautiful park, atop a hill or on the site of a first-century imperial villa, Rome’s luxury hotels are the best spots for poolside relaxation.
This is where Jay Gatsby would throw a party — it is private, posh and perfect for an afternoon of fun in the sun. Parco dei Principi’s garden is a green oasis of olive, palm, sycamore and cypress trees, embedded in a corner of Rome’s Villa Borghese park. The 5,381-square-foot garden includes a pool, lounge area, terrace restaurant and poolside grill where a young chef picks the perfect primi (first course) and secondi (meat course) for the day. Rumor has it that this year, the chef will have a tiny personal garden where guests can choose whichever fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables they would like to accompany their dishes. But Principi poolside is where you want to lounge all day, in particular for the world-class, full-service treatment that includes gorgeous gazebos for couples who want just a little bit more privacy to go with their champagne, as well as on-the-spot personal trainers ready for whatever your muscles need. Bonus for this season: Parco dei Principi is helping to launch gelato-inspired events company MenthaPiperita, from Principi’s own Giovanni Naldi and gelato and event entrepreneurs Massimo Sonnino and Andrea Fassi. Fassi (of Rome’s historic gelato family), Naldi and Sonnino have invented artisanal gelato cocktails (mojito, aviation, Moscow mule and the Italian favorite, spritz) to be served at the bar. Additionally, the trio is curating a series of evening terrace events throughout the summer.
When getting out of the city is an objective but time is a priority, the Cavalieri is where you should go. Located just 15 minutes from the city center in the northwestern Monte Mario neighborhood, the Cavalieri sits on a hill, overlooking Rome, like a king watching over a massive empire. The Cavalieri pool area is an august complex that covers more than 53,820 square feet with dining, relaxing and pool areas. Poolside at the Cavalieri can mean a day of unwinding at any of the four pools — two outdoor swimming pools, an outdoor children’s swimming hole (where an inflatable slide appears midday for even more fun) and an indoor option for those who want to avoid sunburn. Or, it can also mean a lunch at L’Uliveto, a terrace restaurant facing the main pool, the beautiful Tiepolo Lounge or the famed Pool Bar, where polo-shirted men serve some of Rome’s best hamburgers. Look for the hidden gazebo for a charming and private lunch.
Rome’s somewhat-new kid on the hospitality block sits on one of the city’s older sites. The two-year-old hotel is actually a former orphanage on the grounds of a first-century private villa on the Janiculum hill. With an enviable location, the Gran Meliá seems more like an empire state of relaxation than anything else. “Urban resort” is the Gran Meliá’s objective, both in and out of its rooms. YHI Wellness’ 2,691-square-foot outdoor Wellness Center has a checklist of amenities: pool, lounge bar and gardens. From there, the poolside experience becomes either about complete laziness with never-to-leave Bali beds — luxury cabana lounges with remote-control service for beverages, edibles and every other imaginable sundry — or more health-focused, as the Wellness Center organizes poolside yoga and other exercise regimes. All the while, its pool menu keeps both in mind. DJs and live musical performances highlight cocktail evenings.
Photos Courtesy of Rome Cavalieri, Parcodei Principi and Gran Meliá Rome