Everybody likes a great hotel, but what kind? My favorite is “boutique” but I feel like that definition keeps changing, especially in Rome. The Eternal City has a vast crop of small, but mighty high-end hotels that are helping to further evolve the city’s dynamic from eternal to iconic and I’ve chosen five for the most sumptuous and somewhat smaller stays in Rome. Well, not quite . . .
Portrait Roma — Lungarno Collection makes the list because is the perfect pied-à-terre in Rome’s center by Piazza di Spagna. Only 14 rooms, Portrait capitalizes on its Ferragamo heritage with custom interiors that look fresh off a magazine cover. The rooftop terrace is too die for. I can’t decide what Portrait’s best feature is. Is Portrait’s team of six knowledgeable lifestyle assistants, ready to send you in the direction of the city’s hottest concert, exhibit or restaurant or its Via dei Condotti address. Here in the very epicenter of Rome’s exclusive fashion boulevard?
Years ago, a friend introduced me to Villa Spalletti Trivelli as a “secret home in Rome.” And hidden just off Via Nazionale in the Esquilino neighborhood, it sure is. The free-standing villa is a former historic home, now a luxury retreat of twelve bedrooms. Expect lavish living rooms and salons, period furniture and art, including tapestries, sculptures, paintings and an exquisite antique library recognized by Italy’s Ministry of National Heritage and Culture. Even the gardens are manicured to evoke an early 19th-century feel.
Bonus to the rooftop terrace with lounge bar and a few jacuzzi.
The Pantheon Iconic Rome Hotel wins for the very best view- literally eye to eye with the dome of Pantheon and the spiral of St.Ivo. Architect Marco Piva designed this 79-room stunner with glossy marbles, resplendent golds, warm woods and contemporary sculptures all inspired by the Pantheon itself. It can be a bit much for some.
I often tell people that if I were having an affair, Hotel Vilòn where you would find me. Vilon is a hideway in the beautiful Palazzo Borghese, entering on a side street. Its 18 room darling are stylish and sultry with contemporary design, rich colors, lavish marbles and woods, contemporary art and photography, and custom furniture.
Ground floor bar andn resto Adelaide feels like you’ve just walked onto a film set, thanks to styling by production designer Paolo Bonfini. With its contemporary vibe and exclusive locale, this posh lounge is one of the hottest places in the city to sip — snag a stool during apertivo hour and order up a Principessa, a fragrant blend of citrusy Galliano L’Aperitivo, pomegranate juice, and thyme- and pink-pepper-infused soda.
The address is Grand Meliá Rome Villa Agrippina, a luxury hotel which capitalizes on history- it was once home to Nero’s mom Agrippina, and outdoor luxury. Today’s Villa Agrippina is a 116 room luxury hotel, designed with a flair for mid-century modern. Its outdoor space is lined with cozy cabanas, plush loungers and secluded gardens, and is the urban haven of relaxation with its sprawling greenery and state-of-the-art spa, with a picture-perfect 1920s-style outdoor swimming pool.
Bonus: Chef Luciano Monosilio, aka The King of Carbonara, recently opened Follie, his whimsical restaurant.
A version of this article appeared in Forbes Travel July 2018.