by Lee Marshall, The Telegraph, March 13, 2019
Rome is a city that combines the intimacy and human scale of a village with the cultural draws of a historic, art-laden European metropolis. Classical ruins and early Christian places of worship stand next to – or sometimes lie beneath – Renaissance palazzos and Baroque fountains. But there are also great neighbourhood trattorias, quirky shops and a buzzing aperitivo scene. It suits the independent traveller looking for a stylish and small place to stay with oodles of character and bags of charm down to a tee. Here are some of the Eternal City's best boutique hotels, from historic palazzos to designer suites.
This 14-suite bolthole, a short sashay from the Spanish Steps, is one of the city’s most stylish luxe options, lent panache by Michele Bonan’s tasteful contemporary-retro design scheme. It is suave and very private: think of it as a high-class residence rather than a hotel. When they say suites, they mean suites: even the entry-level 'superiors' are spacious. The discreet service, courtesy of a dedicated ‘lifestyle team’, is unparalleled – as is the cachet of the guests-only rooftop bar.
Read the full review: Portrait Roma
The H’All Tailor Suite
From the moment you arrive, you get a sense of the boutique and tailor-made feel of The H’All Tailor Suite. The elegant white building seems a residential one, in line with owners' Riccardo and Ramona's mission to make you feel at home. Hence the name: everything here is about a personal experience. Artworks from Rome's Mucciaccia contemporary art gallery adorn walls in each of the 14 uniquely appointed rooms, and match perfectly with the minimalist and stylish design pieces and furnishings. The famed All'Oro restaurant is also fitted with plush and luxury colourful interiors.
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Architect and designer Giampiero Panepinto has created a series of deliciously stylish yet also teasingly playful spaces by mixing up references that range from Rococo through 19th-century decadence to mid-century modern. It’s aimed squarely at cultured, independent globetrotters, and pretty much any request can be accommodated, from child-oriented private Rome tours to yoga and massages. The clubby bar/restaurant, which spills out into a small, intimate, plant-lined al fresco courtyard, makes you want to slip into vintage Valentino and sip a Negroni.
Read the full review: Hotel Vilòn
Elizabeth Unique Hotel
In a corner of Rome where a number of stylish boutique hotels have blossomed, the Elizabeth is perhaps the most outstanding player. Like many Roman boutique hotels, it's a modern space inside a historic palazzo, with exquisite interiors that mix a refined colour palette with mid-century décor and custom flourishes such as bespoke lighting and Colosseum-inspired accent tables. What makes this boutique hotel a stand-out, however, is its remarkable collection of contemporary Italian art, curated by one of Rome’s most prestigious galleries.
Read the full review: Elizabeth Unique Hotel
If you’ve ever wanted to live like a reigning contemporary Roman family, Villa Laetitia is the address. The Liberty-era villa, acquired by Fendi clan sister Anna, is a Belle Epoque time piece, a secluded urban retreat and a lovely balance of artisan hotellerie, haute design and epicurean attentiveness. The luxury villa’s 21 rooms are located in both the villa and its fully-restored 1910s garden. Family and friends are the main themes in each room – the main villa’s Adele room is a minimalist homage in 1910s wooden furniture to original Fendi matriarch Adele.
Read the full review: Villa Laetitica
This is the Italian dream, especially if that dream means acute style-acumen and normcore-chic. Each CasaCau 'Interior', as the apartments are called, are breezy open-spaces with contemporary furniture and art pieces, all which belie the palazzo’s Baroque façade. The open-space format includes an eat-in kitchen and bedroom/living room with king-sized beds. In the mornings, Italian pastries are delivered to your door along with a newspaper. Guests of CasaCau are offered gourmet experiences the group's two Michelin-starred restaurants.
Read the full review: CasaCau
The Martis Palace takes its name from the Roman god Mars. It was once a Renaissance palace and convent owned by the noble Massimo family. The period features of the building have been thoughtfully brought forward to the 21st century, with huge glass doors opening onto 600-year-old granite columns and holy water fountains. Rooms are huge, with bold design; Bright floral bedspreads and accent textiles look chic, as do the Rothko-esque two-tone wallpaper and drapes. There is a spa at Martis Palace's sister hotel which is available to guests staying here.
Read the full review: Martis Palace
This collection of 24 classy serviced apartments, spread across two nearby townhouses in one of the city’s smartest shopping streets that connects the Spanish Steps with Piazza del Popolo, is at the epicentre of Roman glamour. It's a great option for independent mid-budget travellers who want an excellent location and suave design without paying elevated prices. In the annexe just across the street from its main townhouse at number 181 is the hotel's lovely top-floor terrace bar (al fresco in summer) where a continental buffet breakfast is served in the morning and evening cocktails are mixed from 6pm to 9pm.
Read the full review: Babuino 181
The Fifteen Keys
Not just for urban hipsters, this charming, full-service towhouse hotel has finally given the villagey Monti district the classy accommodation option it was waiting for. You need to ring the bell to gain admittance to this tall, pale-cream-hued townhouse, which owners Sara Ferrajoli and Vincenzo Mirisola di Torresanto have converted, with the help of architect Antonio Girardi, into an utterly charming urban refuge with a cool retro feel – in look as much Paris or London as Rome. Grown-up colour schemes, 1950s-style armchairs and vintage light fittings set the tone of a cool insider address for plugged-in independent travellers.
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Nerva Boutique Hotel
Absolutely charming. That’s the overriding impression left behind by a stay at this cute, friendly three-star hotel which nestles right up against the Forum in the funky district of Monti. Rooms are more five-star than three: black, white, and houndstooth essentials are offset by colourful artwork and throw pillows, and art books are used as high-brow accents. Design flourishes such as furniture pieces by Dedar and Gervasoni, mod pendant lights, top-shelf Italian mattresses and bedding, and Emperador marble bathrooms with bespoke natural bath products, give the rooms a luxury feel.
Read the full review: Nerva Boutique Hotel
Hotel Monte Cenci
Hotel Monte Cenci is tucked away on a side street in the fringes of Rome's Jewish quarter, one of the city's most ancient districts. Modern rooms meet quaint balconies overlooking romantic Rome, in an extraordinary encounter of comfort and charm. The service experience begins before check-in, with an invite to select pillow types, a Honeymoon welcome or even request a yoga mat in your room. And the property is crowned with an enchanting rooftop bar which transforms into a cosy winter garden in the colder months.
Read the full review: Hotel Monte Cenci
Contributions by Nicola Ferlei Brown, Erica Firpo, Lee Marshall, Maria Pasquale, Rebecca Winke