It’s all thanks to my mom that I am into the whole Four Star vibe. She is a Svengali of discounts, and a hotel whisperer. All she has to do is ask and the prices will fall. Who needs Lastminute and Latenight when we have her on call?! Secondly, she has an eye for great four star hotels.
Four Star hotels are unsung heroes – fabulous yet overlooked finds, but in Rome, the Four Star is the hydra of hotelerie, a spectrum so vast and numbers so large, it’s impossible to define them, even harder to rank them and chaotic to navigate through them – or, as my mom would say, hit or miss.
There are four stars that are just a hair short of being five star- beautiful design and service, lacking only a few amenities like (spas and fitness centers). And there are four star s that not even Mother Bates could love. To paraphrase a friend within the Federalberghi structure, hotels can be whatever they want these days and four stars are absolutely anything and everything.
What makes a good Four Star in Rome?
Style. Location. Price. The standard requirements for choosing any hotel anywhere, but what does this mean for Rome? It means being picky for location, style and budget.
In my opinion, if you are planning to stay in Rome, you must be in the thick of it, in other words, neighborhoods in the centro storico. You want to be able to walk everywhere, and so does everyone else so the singular most important question is “are the windows at least double-paned?”
Bad design or style can kill a vibe. IKEA Malm furniture and my zia’s coverlets (burnt umber colored with itty-bitty pompoms) is a definite No. That is no four stars. Neither is the bedroom dominated by a jacuzzi.
It’s all about the baseline budget. According to Expedia, the four star price range in Rome is anything from 42 euro to 700 euro nightly. Yep, it’s pretty broad so set a baseline at 175 euro, ruling out everything below 125 euro and above 250 euro (this can fluctuate in high season0 which narrows the listings and eliminates several of the mutton dressed as lamb.
Four Great Four Stars
I stumbled into Hotel Stendhal l one day after being caught with a famished and very impatient 5 year old as we waited for an incredibly overdue bus on Via del Tritone. She needed a snack and I needed a break, behind us was the window into what looked like peace to me, thanks to tranquil, seafoam colored walls. I was right, I was able to relax so much so that later I booked a stay at the The Annex.
The Annex is the Hotel Stendhal’s is around-the-corner apartment, whose rooms favor a more contemporary style to the main hotel’s traditional and tasteful 30 rooms. Its ten rooms are a combination of rich colors and fabrics, and great light. I’d call the decor modern Italian- bespoke upholstering, art piece lamps, fabulous prints, modern bed frames, shapeful divans and dark parquet floors. Nothing is cumbersome and there is an overall sense of open space, in fact the floor area alone would be ideal for personal yoga routines and core workouts.
Sexy, contemporary and spacious, the Annex vibe is urban escape and giving you a chance to “live” an Italian life. Though I am not 100% thrilled about its location on the corner of Piazza Barberini and busy via del Tritone, there is no noise (triple-pane glass!) and it is a perfect for walking to all sites in the city, or hopping on public transport. Finally, service is top quality. Stendhal staff are courteous and very helpful.
I was more than happily surprised when I discovered Palazzo Navona and its roundhouse punch of style, service and space. Or maybe I just loved the ground level bar and incredible library of art books. In fact, the entire ground level is a delight of rich colors, artsy furniture (but not overwhelming), art piece lamps and paintings, and of course art books.
Its 43 rooms and suites are tasteful with efficient use of space, designed in a low key style of white-on-grey-on-black tones, with the occasional bright colored divan. In each room, there is an effortless sense of space- which may in fact be an optical illusion, as a friend points out that the rooms are not really that big, however, my room – a corner suite (a larger open plan room) had black parquet floors so vast I could probably teach a yoga class here, and definitely play a rough game of Twister.
From the front desk to in room, service is top notch, pleasant and efficient. Within 12 hours, I was on a first name basis with everyone from the front desk to room service. My favorite part of the hotel was not inside, but its rooftop with 360 view of the neighborhood’s domes and some great lounge chairs. The ringer for Palazzo Navona is location, a side street wedged between Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. Doesn’t get any better than that.
Donna Camilla Savelli
Donna Camilla Savelli is a personal favorite. Located in a former convent, there are 78 rooms and suites and lush courtyards. The restored sixteenth-century monastery claims Francesco Borromini as architect, so you can imagine that Baroque runs rampant- tall archways, harlequin floors, bas-relief, coffered ceilings and beautiful dark wood furniture.
Original antiques and ornament accent each room, while velvet headboards and satin tapestries space up Donna Camilla’s pious origins.In other words, this is the kind of place to stay if you want a bit of yesteryear Roman refinery.
Being a former monastery, it’s a city oasis with terraces and cloister gardens, including my favorite -a scented garden with jasmine, camellias and magnolias. Its Trastevere location is great for walking around, and even better for relaxing. You really don’t need to leave.
Playful, vintage Rome is the underlying theme at Hotel Celio. The décor harkens Rome of yesteryear with wood paneling, Venetian glass, period wallpaper and marble. Additionally, the hotel pays homage to the Eternal City’s history with ceiling frescoes reminiscent of the lavish rooms of Ancient Rome’s elite.
Each of the 20 rooms is charming, with a prevalence for Renaissance revival in its décor. All rooms are decorated in period style with detailed wallpaper, vintage furniture, patterned floor tiles and, in some cases, lavish mosaic floors and in situ frescoes. Size is smaller so if you are looking for more ample space book the Ambassador Suite with its king-size bed, personal library of first edition books, and gorgeous brocade, though I prefer the Pompeian Suite, a rooftop apartment with living room, two bathrooms, and three private terraces—with a prime view of the Colosseum. This is where you will want to sit at sunset.
Hotel Celio has a great address just behind the Colosseum and within walking distant to all of Rome’s major sites, including the Roman Forum, Circus Maximus, Piazza Navona, Pantheon and Trevi Fountain.