Rome 2022: As Alluring As Ever

Travelers are back in Rome in full force and hoteliers are welcoming them with both new properties and enduring favorites. We visited two just-opened boutique hotels, along with one of the great grand dames and a five-star urban resort above the fray.

We started at the Baglioni Regina Roma, directly across from the American embassy at Via Vittorio Veneto 72. This ancient neighborhood has been going strong since the Eternal City was young and it never seems to lose its appeal. 

There are 116 rooms, including 11 suites; and the hotel is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. At more than 6,000 square feet, the Roman Penthouse Luxury Apartment has room for six people, with a huge terrace. The suite takes up the entire eighth floor ofthe hotel. 

Baglioni Regina Roma
the Roman Penthouse Luxury Apartment (here and below) at Baglioni Regina Roma offers 6,000 square feet of space on the eighth floor. It has a huge terrace with 360-degree views of the city. (Baglioni Regina Roma )

A little more down to earth, but still at a high standard, is the Dolce Vita Suite on the second floor. There’s room for three in this suite, which is known for its dramatic black marble floors and accents. The bathroom has both a walk-in shower and a deep bathtub. Most suites enjoy special amenities, including transport to and from the airport, a butler, and tickets to museums. For longer stays, a complimentary dinner in the hotel restaurant is offered.

Room 231 is spacious and light, with a walk-in shower and floor-to-ceiling windows. The entire hotel enjoys very good air-conditioning, which is especially important now that Italian summers are getting ever hotter. For more details, contact Manuela Di Bartolomeo ([email protected]; +39-064-211-1860) in sales.

The Brunello restaurant at the Baglioni is a good choice for dinner, with excellent food and service. This is a place to consider on the first or last evening of a journey, when jet lag or early flights make dining-in an attractive option. Down the Via Veneto at number 150, Harry’s Bar is still the spot for a quiet lunch among the spirits of the fabled stars who hung out there back in La Dolce Vita days.

Baglioni Regina Rome
The Baglioni Regina Roma, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, has 116 rooms, including 11 suites. (Baglioni Regina Rome)

Next we sojourned on the riverfront at The First Musica, opened in spring 2022 by Hong Kong-based Pavilions group, which owns two other Roman boutique properties. Located along the Lungotevere (aka, along the Tiber River), this fresh, musically themed hotel resides in the upmarket neighborhood of Prati. A walk across the nearby bridge brings guests into the city’s historic center, while behind the hotel is excellent shopping and our favorite trattoria, Ulisse at Via G. Ferrari 10. The First Musica is located on the same side of the Tiber river as the Vatican and quirky Trastevere. 

Guests at the Musica are welcome to try the restaurants and services of the other two Pavilion properties in Rome, including The First Dolce, known for decadent desserts, and The First Arte’s Michelin-starred Acquolina ristorante.

The rooftop bar, ALTO, is on two tiers and offers great views of the river and Rome’s famed rooftops. It’s possible to make a meal with the wide variety of pizza and finger foods. In late 2022 or early 2023, the hotel will introduce a full-fledged ristorante, as well as offer several more luxury suites, a small spa, and indoor pool. Naturally, with music as the theme, there are high quality sound systems in every room, along with the resident DJ in the bar. 

As of now, the hotel has opened 18 rooms and suites of an eventual 24. Prestige room No. 405 is compact, but very comfortable, with views over the street below. Contact Barbara Anklin ([email protected]; or text +39-349-776-1989), business director for The First Hotels, for updates. We’ll visit again when the property is complete.

The First Musica
The First Musica is located along the banks of the Tiber River in the Prati neighborhood. Shown here is the view from its rooftop. (The First Musica)

Corso Vittorio Emanuele II is a busy street, full of tourists strolling to Piazza Navona, Campo di Fiori and the Pantheon. Behind a discreet entrance at 110 Corso Vittorio Emanuele II is L’Orologio, a new hotel brought to Rome by Sandro and Antonella Fratini’s WTB Group, which owns five properties in Florence and one in Venice, all four-plus stars. Florence-based managing director of the group is Claudio Delli (+39-338-784-5091) who explained the theme is a nod to Sandro’s collection of 2,500 watches. The many paintings of Rolexes and Patek Phillipes lining the walls remind us that time is fleeting and the world is waiting. There are 43 rooms and suites.

On the piano nobile of this old villa is a lovely retreat, Room 111, with three big windows facing a quiet street off the Corso. Amazingly, we didn’t hear even a peep of traffic noise. Not only did the room have a frescoed ceiling and a walk-in closet, it had an iron and ironing board. Yippee! Room 106 overlooks the Corso itself, but again it wasn’t noisy. Room 305 is much smaller, but has a good view of the neighborhood. The hotel manager is Stefano Pepe ([email protected]; +39-351-739-7169).

The theme at L’Orologio is a nod to its owner’s collection of 2,500 watches.  (L’Orologio)

An interesting possibility for a family or group is the option to combine rooms 309 and 310 into a suite, while also adding Junior Suite 310, which is downstairs and connects via the big terrace. The multiple terraces with this combo are off the street and overlook the fabled tile roofs of the city. 

The rooftop bar, Santa, has a view of just about every single famous monument a tourist would want to see in Rome, from St. Peter’s to the Pantheon. While it’s not a defined restaurant, the kitchen is happy to offer a tiny “staircase” of delicious nibbles and will whip up a terrific plate of pasta on request, even long after the dinner hour. The bar, where the specialty drink is a champagne spritz, is open to the public via a special elevator that does not stop on room floors. For a good selection of ristorante, venture into nearby Piazza Farnese or the Campo d’Fiori, where La Carbonara at number 23 claims to have invented the eponymous dish. For vino, try the Cul de Sac Enoteca in Piazza Pasquino near Piazza Navona.

Santa, the rooftop bar at L’Orologio, has a view of just about every famous monument in Rome, from St. Peter’s to the Pantheon.  (L’Orologio)

Our last stop on our Roman update was on lower reaches of the Giancolo (Janiculum) Hill, where there is a spectacular view of the city from the Gran Melia Villa Agrippina, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. The hill rises above the popular Trastevere neighborhood and the Vatican and is home to the American Academy, the American University of Rome, and a number of embassies. The development of the 82-room property at Via del Gianicolo 3 began almost 20 years ago, but, as often happens in Rome, there was the discovery of the ancient Villa of Agrippina. Work stopped until the most precious artifacts were placed in the Palazzo Altemps museum in Rome.

Now 10 years since opening, the Villa Agrippina has recently launched the Follie Ristorante, where new Executive Chef is Luciano Monosilio, who was one of the youngest Italian chefs ever to receive a Michelin star. Luciano’s mission is to delight diners with creative takes on traditional dishes. The wine list here is well worth the visit. Next door is the sumptuous Amaro bar, a decommissioned church, where there are small bites and cocktails available for those who aren’t ready for their next multi-course meal. And, near the pool, is a bright, informal ristorante, the Gala, where sunbathers and families enjoy laid back meals.

Calling a place an urban resort demands a few prerequisites, among them expansive gardens, big terraces and swimming pool, and private pathways for wandering. The Villa Agrippina has all these and is still within walking distance of the historic center of Rome. To add to the allure, many of the suites have their own private plunge pools and large terraces overlooking the postcard panorama of the city.  All guests may book treatments at the Spa My Blend by Clarins, which has its own private pool.

Gran Melia Rome Villa Agrippina
Gran Melia Villa Agrippina’s Premier Room offers 250 to 300 square feet of space. These rooms are decorated with artwork inspired by the "Eternal City." (Gran Melia Rome Villa Agrippina)

There is a three-bedroom private villa on the grounds, which sleeps up to 12 guests and has its own full-sized pool. Guests who book at least two bedrooms have the villa and pool to themselves. Contact Emanuela Bottoni ([email protected]; +39-342-849-6495), director of sales and marketing.

Emanuela says that the historic center is easily reached by walking across the amazing Bernini bridge near Castel Sant’ Angelo. For informal dining in the center, family-operated Otello at Via Mario De’Fiori 40 is a good choice. We also like both the bar and the ristorante Deroma at Via Poli 24-28, and Taverna Ripetta at Via di Ripetta 158.

From the buzz in the streets, it’s apparent that Roma is again welcoming tourists by the millions. Fortunately, the hospitality industry is keeping up with demand by introducing outstanding new properties, while maintaining the allure of the longtime favorites.

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