00187 Travel Guide
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.
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]
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There are many places we dream of going if we had unlimited funds and Italy is definitely at the top of the list. So when we heard that billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his new bride, Priscilla Chan, were honeymooning in Rome, we had to find out where they were staying.
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Our resident celebrity hotel hopper, Josh Flagg is about to invade your living rooms again when the fifth season of Million Dollar Listing premieres on Bravo on June 6. But life isn't all "house" work for Josh. As soon as filming finished, he packed up and resumed his whirlwind travels. Here's where he prefers to stay in Rome.
I must have stayed in Rome at least a half dozen times over the course of my short-lived life, however i have never really found an extraordinary hotel. The Hassler was nice...fifteen years ago. The St Regis is beautiful...if you don't mind using a flashlight when going out at night.
A block from Via Condoti and a block from Via Veneto, it is in the perfect location. The hotel exudes luxury and just the right amount of charm. The views are extraordinary and the staff is extremely nice and not snooty like at most of the other five star hotels in Rome. If I had my own star-rating system, I'd give the hotel five stars but the views, six stars.
Heading to Rome this summer and want to take up Josh's recommendation? The Hotel Eden's rates start at around 400 Euros a night. If you stay there, let us know how it went!
It’s never nice to hear about a good hotel going downhill, but when it’s one you’ve loved and recommended, it’s even worse. So we’re feeling pretty sad right now about the Hotel d’Inghilterra in Rome.
We stayed in the Inghilterra a couple of years back and loved it – a tiny, quiet little hotel, tucked away down a side street off Via Condotti. So when our friend decided to go to Rome for Easter, we immediately suggested they go there.
When we went, we’d been upgraded to a suite, so we knew we were in for a good time, but we’d peeked in a few of the standard bedrooms and thought they passed muster. So we were surprised when we got a phonecall from our friend on the first day, saying that the room wasn't up to scratch, then followed by a plaintive email mid-stay:
Ah, we knew it: in all the hype surrounding Twilight (and, somewhat alarmingly, still surrounding Twilight), you totes forgot that the Angels and Demons movie was coming out, didn't you? Yeah, 'member that whole thing? That little book called Da Vinci Code that swept the naysh between the Harry Potter and Twilight crazes? Yes, well, Angels and Demons is the sequel and now the movie's coming out on May 15th.
Westin has been named the official hotel partner for the movie, and Dan Brown fanboys and girls can get all sorts of into it with a whole Angels and Demons immersion experience in Rome at the Westin Excelsior. If you book the package, you get a night in a double room, an official Angels & Demons private or group tour, 20% off at the hotel's restaurant and bars and a 20% discount on the Angels & Demons "theme menu" at the Doney restaurant.
What is this "official tour" we speak of, you ask? 'Tis this: if you book the Group Tour, you get a 4 hour Rome excursion with other people (24 max), which includes a Castel Sant'Angelo Entrance Ticket, a map of the Illuminati, a coffee break, and transporation in air-conditioned bus (yeah, Rome in the summer? Not so cool). Opting for the private tour will get you an upgrade to a GrandLuxe room if it's available, and a 4-hour private excursion including a pickup and drop-off at the hotel in an air-conditioned car.
The private tour starts at €433 (around $592) and the group tour will run you €326 ($446) per night. Book here.
Madonna continues her wacky touring hotel escapades by popping in on a wedding at a hotel in Rome.
Superstar Madonna surprised a bride and groom in Rome, Italy, over the weekend, when she interrupted their reception to congratulate the newlyweds.
British couple Imogen and Neil McCarthy were holding the wedding reception at the Hotel De Russie restaurant when they realized Madonna and her husband, Guy Ritchie, were also dining at the eatery.
After the DJ put Madonna's hit "Hung Up" on the turntable, the Material Girl decided to pay the happy pair a visit and wished them good luck for their future lives together."
The hotel restaurant we assume Madge and Guy ate at is the Le Jardin du Russie which features alfresco dining "in a tranquil oasis amidst the bustle of central Rome." The restaurant serves a gourmet Mediterranean cuisine created by Chef Nazzareno Menghini but presumably Madonna brings her own Kabbalah water.
· Madonna the Wedding Guest [SF Gate]
· Hotel De Russie reviews [TripAdvisor]
· Madonna Fans Flip the Bird at St. Regis Grand in Rome [HotelChatter]
[Ed Note: Finding hotels in Italy always appear to be a challenge, which is why we should all pay attention to Jolie's good find in Rome. Enjoy.]
Last month I had the pleasure of staying at the Marriott Grand Flora in Rome for a week. Located on historic Via Veneto across the street from Harry's Bar, next to Villa Borghese and a five minute walk from the Piazza di Spagna and Via dei Condotti, the hotel could not have been more perfectly situated, and we didn't need to take a cab or the subway anywhere.