Rome Travel Guide
One concept that’s huge in Rome: the aperitivo hour, between around 5-8pm, when bars serve platters of free food (sfizi) alongside spritzes and proseccos.
One concept that’s not huge in Rome: the hotel bar. Why go to a boring hotel bar when you could sit with the beautiful people in Piazza di Pietra?
But when in Rome, you don’t always have to, you know – at least not at the Hotel Corner, slightly out of the centre, between the Circus Maximus and Piramide.
The other week, we gave you the gossip on the G-Rough, Rome’s newest design hotel (and Design Hotel), which opened on March 23 – or rather, on its intriguing location in Piazza di Pasquino. But enough gossip; today it’s time to go inside.
Like many other Rome hotels, G-Rough started out as a house – a 16th-century palazzo, to be precise, that was a family home for generations before being converted into apartments.
Unlike many other Rome hotels, though, it has cleaved to its original function. The 10 rooms take up the space of the 10 apartments (the bathroom’s where the kitchen used to be in each apartment, for example, and the doors on each floor are intact). And instead of either tarting up the premises to “hotel standard” or meticulously degrading it to “shabby chic”, the G-Rough has stripped it back to its origins. “Rough luxe”, they like to call it, but we don’t think that quite explains it. Totally original and historically fascinating is more to the point. But no, that doesn’t sound as good.
See, this is how they designed it: G-Rough held a “demolition party” one night, and invited local designers, artists and trendy locals (the owner is a seventh-generation Roman, he knows them) to do what they wanted with the hotel. Wallpapers and paints were stripped, leaving behind only pallid traces of original color from the 1940s on the walls (each room has a different color scheme, and some mix it).
Tiled floors were left untouched (the palazzo’s protected status demands this), but ceilings had faces painted on the beams, other walls had pencil drawings done, and one even has its hallway decorated with hundreds of adhesive nail files (which probably seemed like a good idea at the demolition party, a couple of proseccos down).
When we talked about Intercontinental’s branding-by-smell last month, the general consensus was that it was rather a good idea.
But sometimes, you can have too much of a good thing. And that might just be the case at the Intercontinental de la Ville in Rome.
HC reader @GreeleyCopley tweeted us last week:
G Rough behind Pasquino
When in Rome… well, you know what to do.
But contrary to what tourist tradition might have you believe, Romans don’t toss coins in the Trevi Fountain, or idle away hours squatting on the Spanish Steps. They don’t really do Piazza Navona, either. Instead, they head for a little square just behind Piazza Navona: Piazza di Pasquino.
When the G-Rough opened in Rome on 23 March, much was made of its modern style – a completely new departure for the city, neither traditional nor modern. Nobody mentioned its location, other than the fact that it’s central. But it turns out that the G-Rough has one of the most fascinating locations in the Eternal City.
Sure, enjoying a luxury hotel is easy if you’ve got the $$$ to burn that it takes to stay the night. But let’s face it, that’s not always the case, so we love to find ways to sample a hotel for a fraction of the cost of checking in. Who said you needed to be an overnight guest anyway?
We found the perfect alternative at Hotel de Russie in Rome, where rooms will easily go for $800 a night and up, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a Hollywood star or two (Pitt, Clooney, they’ve all stayed here). Just off of Piazza del Popolo, on designer store-lined Via del Babuino, the de Russie hides a beautiful – and particularly tranquil – courtyard and garden behind its façade, where you can take a quiet break from the hours of strolling through the Eternal (and sometimes frenetic) City.
Yes, the food prices on the menu of Stravinsky Bar will make you look twice (hello €35/$43 sandwich!), and even a latte set us back €8 ($10), but that did come with free WiFi, for two hours, which worked across three devices. We caught up on email sitting close to a terrace heater (it was out of season) and listening to the jazz music coming from the bar.
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It's Guess The Hotel revealed! There were several ways in which we thought we’d follow up on our Guess The Hotel from earlier this week. Never in a million years did we think it would be with the knowledge that this, Hotel Indigo St. George in Rome, will now be part of the same family as Kimpton Hotels. While we continue to process that, we’ll take you on a quick tour of one of the latest additions to one of IHG’s quirkier brands, in a setting that couldn’t be further from the Asian cities where we’ve come to love some of its design.
The 64 rooms all have their murals, but what you’ll get depends on the category you choose: for the Cinquecento, pick the Executive King/Twin, which has a bit more space than entry-level Standard rooms. Caravaggio and the angel inspired by “Amor Vincit Omnia” (Love Conquers All), from our Guess the Hotel, appears in the Executive Suites, which give you a living area with pull-out sofa.
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Oh happy day! Spring is (almost) in the air -- summer’s waiting in the wings -- and Hotel Indigo is popping up all over Europe, just in time for peak travel season.
With two new openings this month, in Rome and St. Petersburg, one next month in Madrid, and at least three others “coming soon” (Lisbon and two more in the UK), we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. So let’s get started with Hotel Indigo Rome - St. George and Hotel Indigo St. Petersburg - Tchaikovskogo ). We'll follow up on the others as they progress.
Welcome to Funky Friday, a new segment we’re trying out which features one photo that we think singularly expresses a hotel’s inner psyche. We look for – and find a lot of – wacky, wild and wondrous designs that seem to have one thing in common: a Type A personality. So why not have a bit of fun as we all wrap up our week by taking a quick look at some hotels that quite frankly, want our attention.
Hotel Art has an ancient setting in Rome by the Spanish Steps, occupying a former boarding school, but the experience inside its walls has no historic precedent.
It is a visual journey through one vibrant space after another—all the way to the guest rooms. The interiors are designed to stand out – in white or in combination with one of more dominant colors: blue, green, yellow, and orange.
In the case of the hotel’s main lobby, the Hall and the focus of this week’s Funky Friday, the pixels are unlimited and the brightness button has been turned all the way to the right.
The Hall is the original old chapel, a rich historic space that any hotelier would be thrilled to transform. This is one very memorable way to do it. The chapel’s amazing vaulted ceilings are given new life by painting them deep cobalt blue, accented with tiny golden stars. Walls and columns are white, further amplified by the use of upward lighting at the base of the columns.
The chapel’s historic alter sits behind ice blue glass walls that bring a soft glow to the reception area. The rather noticeable spaceship shaped reception desks are -- so we are told -- abstract eggs that symbolize eternal perfection. Who knew?
The world is officially in "Countdown to Christmas" mode and now, so are we. Every day until Christmas we'll be featuring a hotel that's in a holiday mood--whether it be with gigantic gingerbread houses, over-the-top Christmas decorations, thrilling lighting displays and best of all, Santa appearances. But of course, any hotel can assemble a fake tree, put on some lights and declare themselves "festive." Which is why we're looking at hotels that are really going ALL OUT. Know of a hotel that's super excited for Christmas? Let us know!
Not to be outdone by the Lulu Guinness tree in London, the Hotel de Russie in Rome has its very own designer Christmas tree to show off. In a match made in fashion heaven, the hotel has enlisted utterly Roman brand FENDI to create chic Christmas decorations throughout the hotel and garden.
Inspired by FENDI’s latest kooky, and some might say creepy, 'Bag Bug' handbag accessory line, the brand has also decorated the hotel's impressive 16-foot Christmas tree on the Piazzetta Valadier with plexiglass versions of the fuzzy critters.
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Here’s an interesting titbit we picked up last week: the Dorchester Collection is trying to make a move on the Eternal City, having entered into discussions to acquire the Hotel Eden in Rome, currently branded under Starwood’s Le Méridien flag.
It would be the second Italian property for the group, joining the Principe di Savoia in Milan. The deal isn’t signed, sealed, delivered quite yet; the official line is that it is “currently in discussions with Starman, owner of the Hotel Eden in Rome, concerning the purchase of the hotel” with “an official statement [to follow] once the transaction is completed”. Given that the Sultan of Brunei is behind the Dorchester Collection and that the company is hoping to have 15 hotels in their portfolio by 2015 (currently they have 9), we’re sure they can work out something on the financial side.
Yeah, that room service breakfast doesn't look so tasty anymore.
Last week when we heard of the sudden passing of
Tony Soprano James Gandolfini, we had a feeling that the hotel suite at the Boscolo Palace--where he suffered the fatal heart attack--would soon be in high demand amongst thanatourists. But we had no idea how fast the hotel would start renting the room out.
Gandolfini died on Wednesday evening. By Friday morning, room 449 had already been cleaned up and assigned to Food Network star (and girlfriend to New York's govenor), Sandra
DLee. However, she didn't stay too long once she learned what had happened in that room.
The NY Post reports that she eventually moved to a different hotel entirely, citing "overwhelming" paparazzi who keep placing phone calls to the suite and even attempting to bribe hotel staff to get into the suite. (It appears they succeeded as the Daily Mail has got the pics up now.)
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We, like everyone else who loved Tony Soprano, are taking the news of James Gandolfini's death pretty hard but we're finding small comfort in the fact that his last days were spent in Italy--and in a luxury hotel.
The 51-year-old actor was found dead yesterday in the bathroom of his hotel room at the Boscolo Palace in Rome. A heart attack is suspected as the cause.
Despite the Palace moniker which conjures up old world luxury (and sometimes stuffiness), the Boscolo is a five-star hotel featuring modern Italian design and its suites have small terraces, with panoramic views of Rome's landmarks and overlooking the fashionable Via Veneto street. The 87-room hotel is also part of Marriott's Autograph Collection.
Rates at the hotel are at 324 euros a night for a deluxe room which isn't too bad for summer in Rome. Although, rates may go up as people seek out Gandolfini's last days. Yes, people really do that.
[Photo via Flickr]