With a city as old as Rome, luxury tends to hide behind façades of ancient ruins and Renaissance palaces, much like its marveled antiquities. The Eternal City is a palimpsest of diverse eras of history, so it’s no wonder that the city’s most luxurious hotels are just like Rome — a myriad of personalities and styles.
Hotel de Russie: The VIP
Since its 2000 opening, Hotel de Russie has been Rome’s oasis for the jet set, celebrity and anyone who wants to step past the velvet rope, thanks to its smart aplomb and chic interpretation of classic. Once you walk off the Piazza del Popolo and tony Via del Babuino and into the quiet hotel, you get it — the city’s natural chaos submits to de Russie’s calm and exclusive vibe. Onsite concierges have an uncanny mentality of “anything is possible,” which is also shown off by the hotel’s outstanding amenities such as its wellness spa, bespoke cultural itineraries, and thoughtful children’s program. Suites are spacious, soft-toned and stylishly contemporary classic, with the best suites facing the inner garden. And it’s that almost secret garden that gives de Russie bragging rights as one of Rome’s most luxurious, especially its Stravinskij bar, where sommeliers and bartenders always please with concoctions such as Castro Street (Campari, cucumber slices and Cynar) or the Negrill (tequila, lime juice, pineapple pulp and cranberries). It’s no surprise that George Clooney, Monica Bellucci and even Bruce Springsteen (aka the Boss) hold court here.
Rome Cavalieri: The Landmark
Fifty years on Rome’s Monte Mario Hill is merely a blink in the city’s millennia-long history, but that half-century status establishes the Cavalieri as a landmark. The hotel is a luxury hideaway known for its famed guests, its not-so-easy-to-reach location (a winding drive up a peripheral hill), an insane art collection that decorates each floor from artists such as Giambattista Tiepolo and Bertel Thorvaldsen, as well as its overall opulence, whether in guest and pet amenities or gorgeous classic design. Yes, the main entrance may be akin to Caesars Palace, but don’t judge it by its 1960s façade — Rome Cavalieri is as plush as Emperor Tiberius’ villa. The best things come in threes, such as its three swimming pools and more than 300 deluxe rooms. Not to mention, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, La Pergola, boasts a wine cellar with more than 53,000 bottles.
Boscolo Exedra Rome: The Janus
Much like the double-faced Roman god, the Boscolo Exedra has a split personality. The seemingly archetype of Neoclassical elegance — think turn-of-the-century architecture, light tones, Corinthian columns, gilding, canopies and Old World classic design — the Exedra’s alter-ego is a series of suites designed by Forbes Travel Guide Tastemaker and wunderkind Adam Tihany of bold colors, crystal chandeliers and ultramodern decoration. And the hotel has another secret — you can stay in the Clementine annex, a series of luxury rooms built into a 16th-century papal granary whose rustic elegance includes exposed wooden beams and a terra-cotta tile roof. For the never sated, the Exedra has five bars — of particular note are the ground level Champagnerie Tazio, a champagne bar worthy of Jay Gatsby, and the rooftop Terrace Posh Bar, whose poolside apéritifs and sumptuous view provide an idyllic combination.
Residenza Napoleone III: The Emperor
Hidden in the 17th-century Palazzo Ruspoli, behind Via Condotti, Residenza Napoleone III has conquered location, luxury and history. Princess Letizia Ruspoli has made the luxury hotel a Roman fairytale by meticulously overseeing every detail of this tiny realm, and enhancing its historic grandeur with 21st century technology such as Bose iPod docks and satellite plasma TVs. Its two singularly lavish apartment suites, Napoleone and Roof Garden, are decorated with frescos, velvet, marble sculptures, antiques and a state-of-the-art screening room. Napoleone is as boastful as its most famous resident, Emperor Napoleone III, and much larger in size — an 18th century sitting room and bedroom that would make most Roman citizens jealous. The equally grandiose Roof Garden Suite features an enormous terrace overlooking the city’s entire historic center. Our favorite luxury? The full-time majordomos (head butlers of the property) secreted away in the hotel’s hidden hallways and always ready to assist.
J.K. Place Rome: The Newcomer
The J.K. Place Rome is the newest addition to the city’s collection of luxury hotels. Opened in September, the charming property brings architect Michele Bonan’s playful philosophy of “harmony, coherence and irony” to the 30-room hotel. Bonan’s inimitable style of vibrant colors and patterns, and exquisite furniture create very personal ambiences where each room feels like it’s your home — a very luxurious home at that. Expect marble swathed bathrooms and a rooftop terrace. Dressed to impress, location is also important —the J.K. Place Rome sits in the Trident area where luxury shops line historic roads, and you’ll find yourself within moments of the Spanish Steps and Via Condotti. The hotel is part of a new triumvirate of contemporary architecture, which includes Richard Meier’s Ara Pacis Museum (circa 2006) and Massimiliano Fuksas’s Lantern (2013), an inside-and-out lantern in the new H&M megastore.
Photos Courtesy of Hilton Worldwide, Hotel de Russie and Residenza Napoleone III