Hotel de Rome

View of Rome from Castel Sant'Angelo, Italy
Rome // Getty//MasterLu

Richard Beck was impressed by the new look of Hotel de Rome.

Richard Beck was impressed by the new look of Hotel de Rome.

I’ve coined a new category. Hotel de Rome is a “Grand-Old-New Hotel.” Whether you prefer a hotel that has a worthy provenance or a modern hotel of today, you’ll experience both at Hotel de Rome in Berlin. Originally built between 1887 and 1889, it was the headquarters of Dresdner Bank until 1945. In 1945 all branches of the Dresdner Bank were closed in the Soviet Occupation Zone. The GDR State Bank occupied it until the fall of the Berlin Wall, and after that it was empty and in disrepair until 2003, when Sir Rocco Forte did his magic. Now everything that was old is new again, making the Hotel de Rome all about now. In fact, it would be hard to imagine it otherwise except from the outside. Sir Rocco Forte and his sister, interior designer Olga Polizzi, collaborate to build some of today’s most beautiful grand hotels. I first met her years ago—although I’m sure she wouldn’t remember—at the Hyde Park Hotel in London when it was a Forte Exclusive property, before it was purchased by Mandarin Oriental. I was so enthralled by what she had done there that when she was pointed out to me I went up to her to tell her how fabulous I thought she was. She still is fabulous today, leaving her unforgettable mark on every Rocco Forte hotel.

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The Hotel de Rome gives you that “WOW” when you enter the enormous high-ceilinged lobby. “I picked the right place,” you will think to yourself. It’s just a bit intimidating, but that’s exactly one of the things that put grand-new hotels on the map. The attention to detail begins in the public areas, but doesn’t end there. Every accommodation is unique. You won’t tire of your room here. I stayed for a week and didn’t want to leave.

The Bebel suite in Hotel de Rome is designed in the style of a turn-of-the-century Berlin apartment.Pictured: The Bebel suite in Hotel de Rome is designed in the style of a turn-of-the-century Berlin apartment.

The Hotel de Rome’s 109 rooms and 37 suites are on five floors. The rooms and suites on the lower floors have higher ceilings, but that seems irrelevant as the higher floor rooms have ceilings that are over nine feet tall. They’re decorated in tones of cream, blue and red.

Even the standard rooms, unlike in many other hotels, are beautiful and well appointed. You’ll have plenty of outlets for all your technical needs. The baths have separate showers and tubs. The air conditioning is so quiet (a true sign of a luxury hotel) that when I first arrived I had to check if it was turned on.

There are just enough public rooms and spaces to enjoy, whether you’re with someone or solo. I never felt neglected as the attentive staff members are always about. The main dining room, Parioli, is an outstanding Italian-themed restaurant under the guidance of Chef Jörg Behrend. The venue is so agreeable, and during warmer months, there’s outside seating. The roof terrace overlooking the State Opera House is a favorite meeting place in the afternoon when weather permits. Here, they offer coffee, iced tea and special cocktails that are champagne- or vodka-based, along with light snacks. The hotel’s Opera Court, formerly the lobby of the Dresdner Bank, serves a full afternoon English tea. The Bebel Bar plays host not just to hotel guests but locals as well. Live music and an interesting cocktail menu make it one of the places to go to in the area. A vault where jewels and gold were stored is now the spa…an oasis of calm, with a 20-meter pool, steam room, sauna and gym.

Hotel de Rome’s high-ceilinged lobby wows guests as soon as they enter the hotel.Pictured: Hotel de Rome’s high-ceilinged lobby wows guests as soon as they enter the hotel.

Finally, every staff member here seems genuinely happy. Sir Rocco Forte possesses the ability to find that innate quality in all those he employs, and the de Rome is no exception. I personally like a hotel manager who is visible and interacts with his guests. Some are so adept at it that I imagine a hidden camera that is a direct link to their iPhone or Android.

Hotel de Rome’s general manager, Thies Sponholz, is all about engaging with his guests and—just as important—he’s easily approachable. A good manager will always make you want to return, and that he does. When she is not traveling the world representing the hotel, their sales manager, Stephanie Brueckner, is also often found interacting with guests. You’ll recognize her when you see her. She defines beauty and graciousness. Stephanie possesses that innate gift of an admired politician. You know the type! When they speak with you, you feel and believe for a moment that you are the only person in their life. It’s not surprising how well known, respected and loved she is in the travel community.

The next time you want to experience a “Grand-Old-New Hotel,” head to Berlin and stay at Rocco Forte Hotel de Rome.

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