Ciao Bella’s picks for the Eternal City
I love hotel life. Tiny boutiques, historic grand dames, B&Bs and big brands, I love walking into a room where the bed is made by someone other than me, and the bathroom does not have my entire family inside. I love dropping off a hotel key, and I like the idea that I can enjoy breakfast my bed without having to make it. So it’s no a surprise that I also love sharing my hotel experiences on Instagram. But the more I do, the more I receive emails asking “What’s your favorite hotel?”, a tough question but I’ve decided I’ll pony up my top 10 list for hotels in Rome.
Keep in mind that every hotel has its own distinct personality and where you stay depends on what your flavor is. From the timeless grandeur of historic institutions and sleek sophistication of contemporary interiors to bolthole boutiques, these spots cash in on styles, location and sometimes even food.
Disclaimer: Rome has hundreds of hotels, and I’ve only stayed at a fraction. And lately, my tastes have an expensive price tag.
Hotel de’ Ricci
Neighborhood: Campo de’ Fiori/Piazza Farnese
There is no way I can’t love Hotel de’ Ricci. Nestled around the corner from the serene Piazza Farnese, this boutique hotel, boasting just eight rooms, and is a sanctuary for wine and design aficionados. And the neighborhood is tops- Regola has the best food, and its side streets are old school Rome.
Owner Lorenzo Lisi has meticulously curated each room, adorning them with midcentury-inspired furniture, including original vintage pieces, and adorning the walls with hand-painted murals by contemporary artist Andrea Ferolla. https://ciaobella.co/regola-restaurants/This results in an ambiance that emulates a private Roman residence.
The Charade Bar, also designed by Ferolla, hosts nightly aperitivi and wine tastings, ensuring a delightful stay. It’s worth mentioning that Lisi is the proud owner of Rome’s beloved fish restaurant, PierLuigi, and can boast one of the city’s most extensive wine cellars, stocked with nearly 1,500 labels. Full disclosure: Lorenzo is friend.
Neighborhood: Campo Marzo/Via del Corso
I’ve waxed poetic on Vilòn ever since it opened, and I can’t, or won’t stop. With just 18 rooms and a setting that will blow your mind (inside a 16th century), Violin cannot be beat for its sultry aesthetic and private side street location. Designed by the renowned Roman set designer Paolo Bonfini, the hotel unveils a bold, cinematic aesthetic that captivates the senses with dramatic lighting, jewel tones, contemporary art, and opulent marble-clad – style is a contemporary Art Deco.
Things I love – the garden facing rooms with private terraces, and the over the top, Palazzo Vilòn, the hotel’s private apartment – 10,000 square feet across three floors, featuring frescoed ceilings, intricate moldings, gilded accents, and rococo furnishings.
Donna Camilla Savelli
I almost do not want to tell you about Donna Camilla Savelli. This hotel is my secret weapon, a former monastery in the hub of Trastevere, transformed into a luxury hotel. Its architecture keeps it private from the craze of the neighborhood. In fact once you enter its hallowed ground, Trastevere seemingly melts away.
The hotel turns back the clocks and whisks guests away to a bygone era in each of its 78 rooms, which retain original decorative elements including frescoed ceilings and period furniture. In every way possible, interiors also bring the property’s monastic past to a pampered present with welcoming beddings and other modern-day amenities
Neighborhood: Trevi Fountain/Via Veneto
EDITION Rome is one of my most recent stays, and what I like best about this Ian Schrager-designed hotel is that it marks pivotal transformation for the historic Barberini/Via Veneto neighborhood, I hope.
From the moment I showed up, I loved the building- a 1930s office building of gorgeous Rationalist lines. Schrager’s imprint is all over the place with avant-garde design in all communal spaces and rooms. The 93 guest rooms and suites are understated opulence – a palette of serene hues and artisanal details such as leather door handles.
I really want EDITION to be a scene, and it has possibilities with the ground level garden restaurant and its speakeasy Punch Bowl. Right now, I am not catching the vibe – it might need more time to become a hangout but I think we can all agree that is exclusive rooftop (with plunge pool) is the spot.
Bulgari Hotel Roma
Neighborhood: Campo Marzo/Via del Corso
When I stayed at Bulgari, I felt like I was in another world. This hotel has single-handedly launched a challenge to every other hotel in Rome, for its top class hospitality. For its 114 rooms and suites, Bulgari has a team of 400 staff, which averages out to four dedicated people for each room – which means there is no room for error.
What’s it like. Impressive from the moment you walk in. Resplendent marbles—a nod to the marbles that line the floors of the Pantheon nearby—flank every doorway, floor, and wall, and an ancient statue of Augustus Caesar from the famed private Torlonia Collection greets visitors at the hotel’s entrance.
Accommodations are styled in light tones and a contemporary design by ACPV architects Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel. The 16,000-square-foot spa is a modern vision of ancient Roman baths, while the enormous rooftop terrace is an ideal spot for watching the sun set over the city. Celebrated Abruzzo-born chef Niko Romito’s culinary talents are on full display at fine dining restaurant Il Ristorante Niko Romito with such dishes as potato ravioli with octopus and milk-fed Milanese-style veal. For bubbles off a Dom Perignon trolley, head for the Champagne Bar, and for a casual meal of such well-executed Roman classics as cacio e pepe or carbonara, snag a table at Il Caffè.
Neighborhood: Piazza di Spagna
The Grand Dame of Rome hotels, the Hassler was founded in 1893, and has been in the Wirth family since the 1930s. The Wirth Family has an unwavering commitment to impeccable service and a penchant for discretion have earned it the loyalty of royalty and celebrities, making it a recurrent destination for the elite. The hotel is a landmark of luxury and a legendary haven for the glitterati’s who’s who- Gregory Peck, Elizabeth Taylor, Prince Charles and Tom Cruise.
What I love about the Hassler are the offer uninterrupted vistas of the timeless Rome and the majestic Vatican City. The Hassler envelops its guests in Old World charm across its 97 rooms and suites. Whether opting for the turn-of-the-century-style suites, adorned with Murano glass chandeliers, gilded furniture, and opulent marbles, or the more contemporary accommodations featuring rich woods, designer furnishings, and the occasional antique piece, a timeless elegance permeates every corner.
Palazzo Manfredi is where I suggest if you want an epic wake up call. Located at rim of the lupus magnus (gladiator training area), most of Manfredi’s 28 guest rooms have sweeping views of the Colosseum, yes, the Colosseum from their floor-to-ceiling glass windows, even from the showers.
If that isn’t reason enough, here are a few more. The Court cocktail bar is front row to the ludus magnus and is helped by Matteo Zed, one of the world’s foremost amaro experts. Sunset is incredible. And it gets better if you are dining at Aroma, a Michelin-star restaurant that is eye to eye with the Colosseum. It is hard to book a reservation, and I am not thrilled with the cuisine.
For the ultimate experience of Rome’s enchanting sunset vistas over the ruins, head to the Michelin-starred rooftop restaurant, Aroma. It presents a tantalizing tasting menu that includes delectable dishes such as handcrafted tagliolini and pumpkin creations. Palazzo Manfredi is your gateway to an unforgettable Roman sojourn with the Colosseum as your esteemed neighbor.
Neighborhood: Piazza di Spagna
When I stayed at Portrait Roma with our daughters (and dog), they decided that this was the best hotel in Rome. Tucked behind an unassuming facade on a side street off fashion thoroughfare Via dei Condotti, the 14-suite boutique hotel is all about exclusivity, personalized service and super Italian craftsmanship- no wonder, it’s part of the Ferragamo family’s Lungarno Collection.
Suites are designed in a contemporary-meets-classic style. Rooms pay homage to Ferragamo’s craftsmanship heritage with leather fittings and custom furniture and are filled with original artwork and Ferragamo-themed art tomes. The rooftop terrace faces the historic center and, weather permitting, offers breakfast and a light lunch service as well as a cocktail-hour honor bar with whiskeys and champagnes
Neighborhood: Piazza del Popolo
With a design that feels like an art deco fever dream, it’s no wonder why Hotel Locarno is a fan favorite of the film cut, like Wes Anderson and Federico Fellini. Originally opened in 1925, the hotel has changed hands a few times but still retains from the original architectural details and antiques from the 1920s.
The 44 guest rooms are filled with antique furniture, damask wallpaper, and ornate chandeliers that lend it a yesteryear vibe. Anselmo Ballester—the Roman artist behind many classic film posters—created a poster for the hotel that hangs in the lobby near an antique Steinway, and a small hallway displays artifacts like the hotel’s original teacups and black-and-white photos of movie stars who have stayed here.
Anantara Palazzo Naiadi
Neighborhood: Piazza della Repubblica/Termini Station
Anantara Palazzo Naidi is the largest hotel on my list with 232 guest rooms and suites. I’m including this mini palace because of its Piazza della Repubblica’s location, that gorgeous crescent-shaped double colonnaded square with a fountain of bathing nymphs (naiads). This is an area that gets overlooked for its proximity to Termini Station, but deserves much more attentention- especially because is on the grounds of archeo-site Baths of Diocletian, one of antiquity’s largest public baths.
Anantara leans into Ancient Rome at its Anantara’s signature spa, a completely renovated massive area on the top floor which also leads to the rooftop, where you’ll find a plunge pool and Seen restaurant (Japanese Brazilian cuisine). Decor is stunning throughout the hotel but get ready for more changes in the rooms. And here’s a sweet bonus: on the ground level is Casa Manfredi, Rome’s best pastry shop.
A version of this article is part of AFAR’s Hotels We Love series, October 2023.