Escape To Rome By Antonia Peck

Antonia Peck reviews the best hotels in the Eternal City – Rome….

The Hotel de Russie

The Hotel de Russie

The Hotel de Russie has a reputation for excellence. It is the preferred destination for the international and local jet set, situated between the Spanish Steps and the Piazza del Popolo on Via del Babuino. You could not ask for a location more prestigious, more Roman and more decadent.

We were in Rome for a wedding and were scheduled to stay at the Russie for one night. The wedding’s “recovery lunch” was to be hosted in the hotel’s beautiful peach and white courtyard. It’s so peaceful and romantic – we could immediately see why the bride included this hotel in her wedding itinerary.

The hotel’s concierge was excellent at arranging everything one would need when trying to prep for a big event – they recommended and booked the best hairdressers in town, and organised manicures and pedicures at the hotel spa. Finally, the seamstress presented us with perfectly pressed dresses to ensure that we looked our best. There was nothing they couldn’t conjure from their endless list of contacts.

At the lunch itself, every guest was treated exceptionally well by the staff – be it a request for a second Bloody Mary or more delicious canapés.

The rooms are spacious and elegant (there are 122 in total). Ours was a city-view room with pea green fabrics and beautiful fittings, with a classical Roman seascape mosaic adorning the generous bathroom. Truly a space to feel at home in.

The Russi is inherently romantic, there are lemon trees and little birds flitting and bouncing from the pink umbrellas in the courtyard, and with Caravaggios in the Santa Maria del Popolo church opposite the hotel and thoughts of Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday – you will be hard pressed to find a lovelier hotel than the Russi.

The Hotel de Russie
Via del Babuino, 9
00187 Rome, Italy

Tel: +39 06 32 88 81
Fax: +39 06 32 88 88 88

Osteria Margutta

P.S. On the way to the hairdressers, we were delighted to stumble across the restaurant Osteria Margutta. Red napkins and blue crystal water glasses make up the place settings. There are artists’ names (restaurant patrons) on the chairs, and we were told by the owner that Woody Allen had been shooting outside the restaurant the day before. Dine on their famous home-made tortelloni, stuffed with pumpkin, walnut and truffle. Nectar!

Osteria Margutta
Via Margutta, 82, 00187 Roma

Tel: + 39 06 323 1025

Palazzo Manfredi

Palazzo Manfredi

This boutique hotel (formerly a 17th century Palazzo) is really fantastic. Apart from the charming staff and sophisticated vibe, the most exceptional thing about the hotel is its unparalleled view of the Colosseum. Having breakfast or dinner and being able to take photographs like the one shown here is a pure and thrilling moment. The hotel itself is built upon the gladiators’ former training site. Those without a fear of heights can look down from the terrace to see this impressive archeological site.

Palazzo Manfredi’s restaurant, Aroma, is situated on the bright terrace and is popular with Italy’s most glamorous and powerful (we saw both Italy’s financial and football elite dine here on the night of our stay). The restaurant has five stars, one of which must be due in part to the charming and knowledgeable maitre d’. He answered our endless questions about Rome’s historical trials and tribulations – from Nero to Mussolini until the early hours of the morning. Earlier in the evening, he had also advised us on the most delicious food to order: he particularly recommended the pea ravioli with crispy bacon and quails eggs – an incredibly sumptuous combination.

There are only sixteen guest rooms in the hotel and all have been interior designed to a high standard. Some of the design features are a bit over-worked but the most important matter – that of the bed – is perfect for peaceful night’s sleep! The hotel is also exceptionally clean and the common parts are bright (with family silver displayed in the cabinets). Request a room that overlooks the Colosseum. Laptops and gym equipment can be brought to guest rooms for those that require them.

Palazzo Manfredi
Via Labicana, 125 – 00184 Roma

Tel: +39 06 77591380
Fax: +39 081 837790

Rome Cavalieri

Rome Hilton Cavellieri

On our travels, we dined at Rome Cavalieri, part of the Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. The hotel is famed for its exquisite views of Rome and is surrounded by lush parklands and perfectly planned mosaic floors. The setting is extremely grand with a marbled lobby and an exceptional art collection (including a Giovanni Battista Tiepolo). The suites and rooms are suitably impressive with a good mixture of gilt finishes and contemporary fittings. Their restaurant, La Pergola, has three Michelin stars and over 53,000 bottles in its wine cellar. Many publications have given it the accolade of best restaurant in Rome. The view alone puts this dining experience into a realm of its own. We had a sneaky peak at the view but had booked our table at the more casual poolside restaurant L’Uliveto. We dined al-fresco and enjoyed a typically Italian menu. The service speed was rather languid but we relished the relaxing tones of the poolside jazz singer and the opportunity to people-watch. There is an international quality to the hotel’s ambiance but you only need to look at the cityscape view to remember the Eternal city that awaits you.

Rome Cavalieri
Via Alberto Cadlolo, 101
00136 Rome

Tel: +39 06 3509 1
Fax: +39 06 3509 2241