Dan Ilves of TravelStore shares his insights on Rome’s new luxury boutique hotel.
If art is an indication of a hotel’s vibe and style, then the new Palazzo Ripetta, a converted boarding school for poor and orphan girls for nearly three centuries and located on one of Rome’s oldest streets, is a luxury boutique gem in the making, combining some historic works along with contemporary pieces from the owner’s collection.
As for location, the hotel is a short two blocks from Piazza del Popolo with the Tiber River at its back, and the Spanish Steps and Borghese Gardens just several blocks away.
The building was first established in 1675 by Pope Innocent XI as the Conservatorio della Divina Provvidenza. There is an original Bernini sculpture of the pope in what was once the convent’s church, adjacent to the hotel and now serving as a meeting hall, along with an 18th-century fresco by Giacomo Triga on its ceiling. The building has been elegantly updated by one of Italy’s leading architects, Luigi Moretti.
The entrance to the hotel is unobtrusive; it is easy to walk past and not realize there’s a hotel here. However, if you glance into the doorway, you will be struck by the site of the famous Arnaldo Pomodoro sculpture, Sfera, in the lobby that greets you. (This is not a copy and happens to be the first in the series. Another is located on the grounds of the Vatican.) The Pomodoro is drawing some people into the hotel lobby, curious to view it, which is by design: The owners want to share their art collection and engage with the community.
There’s nothing droll about Palazzo Ripetta, and it’s all tasteful. Framed panels of colorful street art grace other walls, adding a fun, contemporary, hip and happy vibe. In the elegant lounge off the lobby there are several massive Art Deco-style wall panels as well as a large bronze sculpture by Lorenzetti. There’s art by Burri, Scialoja, Ortiz, Manzu and Sinisca. But the hotel isn’t just about contemporary art.
Beyond its art and décor, there is a fine touch here to the quality of the plush upholstery and carpeting, the color palette of the rooms, and the Frette linens. There are beautiful flower arrangements of purple orchids and orange plumeria. Throughout the property, and in all the rooms, there are colorful Murano glass sconces and chandeliers. It all combines to provide a fresh, warm and very welcoming and dare I say, happy, tone.
Beyond the lobby is a large inner cloister where the young female residents once spent their free time. Now, guests find a relaxing space where they enjoy breakfast or drinks, removed from the bustle of the city and surrounded by citrus trees and herbs. To one side is a bar as well as a long counter with a sink, where presumably the hotel will be offering mixology and/or cooking activities in future. An ancient Roman fountain graces the inner courtyard.
Except for breakfast, I didn’t dine at the hotel. Enough to say the croissants here melt in your mouth and are served at your table as you are seated. The pastry is curated by Giuseppe Solfrizzi, the celebrated pastry-bakery chef at Le Levain. There’s an open kitchen area, so guests can watch the preparation of the hotel’s tasty pastries and pies. The fine dining restaurant, San Baylon, is open to the public serving Italian comfort food with a twist, and trying to gain traction with the community.
Palazzo Ripetta is keen on the importance of sustainability and its responsibility—even the room keys are made of thin wood rather than plastic. In addition, the hotel has a low impact eco-sustainable air conditioning system; Maniva water is provided in recyclable waxed paper-based containers; and Ortigia bathroom amenities from LaBottega are in recyclable aluminum-based tubes.
The hotel will has 78 rooms and suites (although just 35 rooms were completed when I stayed here in May). A fitness room and a rooftop terrace for cocktails are slated to open in September. The lead-in room category is Deluxe, at about 269 square feet, followed by slightly larger Prestige rooms, and bi-level family rooms, apartments and suites. (In addition to the bi-level rooms, some rooms do have stairs; if you have clients that prefer to avoid any steps, let the property know.) Sofas are convertible beds and can accommodate families up to five people; some rooms have two bathrooms, as well. The unique bi-level spa suites (there are three) have an upper-level floor with two large loungers and a private sauna and second shower, Nespresso machine, and small outdoor terrace. There are 27 suites in several different configurations and three luxury apartments; so it’s best to coordinate your booking with the hotel to ensure the best accommodations to meet your client’s needs can be properly addressed.
Even more important than the room product is the attitude of a property’s staff. All the staff were very friendly and eager to please. Presently, the property is represented by Celebrated Experiences, and a complimentary private tour of the hotel’s art collection is included with bookings made through them.
The luxury travel advisor contact at the hotel is Micol Zarfati ([email protected]), director of sales.