The Eternal City is littered with history and that extends through Rome's many storied hotels. For those in the know, a number of small, design-forward properties are giving savvy travellers the chance to enjoy the city's history while basking in sleek modern style. Below, five to behold.
A short stroll from the Spanish Steps, Portrait Roma is arguably Rome's swankiest boutique hotel. Part of the Salvatore Ferragamo fashion empire—and a favourite of the Mr. and Mrs Smith collection—this property is as swank as it gets thanks to a sophisticated design scheme by Michele Bonan. Each of the 14 suites boasts luxe furnishings and fashionable tones of black, white and grey, along with top-end linens, a fully-equipped kitchenette, two flatscreen TVs, and a Carrera marble bathroom stocked with plenty of Salvatore Ferragamo amenities. But it's the thoughtful, effortlessly executed extras that really make a stay here top-notch, be it the highly personalised, discreet service; iPads loaded with recommendations of sights, shops and restaurants; or the free weights discreetly tucked into a corner of each room. Be sure to schedule some downtime on the hotel's sun-drenched rooftop.
Tucked into bohemian Monti, a hip, up-and-coming residential 'hood, this elegant townhouse hotel is the creation of owners Sara Ferrajoli and Vincenzo Mirisola di Torresanto—with sexy design flair provided by Antonio Girardi—and provide the ultimate digs for savvy travellers. Gain admittance by ringing the bell and you'll find a bright urban retreat that combines modern luxuries with vintage fittings and thoughtful service — think complimentary newspapers and vintage-feel Dudebike bicycles for guests. The 15 rooms, most of which face the hotel's inner courtyard, are calming abodes boasting soothing colours, minibars filled with goodies from gourmet purveyors Eataly, generous flatscreen televisions, and Malin+Goetz amenities. Pick the Terrace Blue Room for your own private balcony overlooking Rome's rooftops and enjoy a leisurely breakfast of fresh fruits, homemade pastries, and organic coffee in the alfresco courtyard.
Once the Roman hideaway for diplomats, the Grand Hotel Palace occupies prime position on storied Via Veneto, just a few minutes from Piazza Barbarini. A member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, the property—which dates back to the 1920s—features a unique aesthetic of elegant classical style enlivened by whimsical touches such as marble and Murano chandeliers set against quirky furniture and brash colors. There are 87 opulent, Art Deco-style rooms here, each decked out with candy-striped wallpaper, a minibar, oversized flatscreens, plush designer furniture, and huge marble bathrooms with amenities by New York's C.O. Bigelow. Choose the 5th floor corner Executive Suite to enjoy extra lounge space and a sunkissed terrace with views over Via Veneto, then start your mornings with the lavish breakfast buffet and gorgeous Guido Cadorin frescos at the refined Ristorante Cadorin. Come evening, nurse your aperitivos and people-watch from the terrace at Pieros Bistro. In between, make time for a dip in the sleek saltwater pool and indulgent treatments at the Thai-inspired Kami Spa.
Just off chi-chi Via dei Condotti, staying here is like crashing at your swanky Roman friend's apartment — if that apartment just happened to have a concierge desk in the living room. With just eight rooms spread across two floors of a centro storico apartment building, this Mr. and Mrs Smith property marries the feeling of a comfortable B&B with the elegance and service of a much larger luxury hotel. Playing to the building's history, aesthetics blend antique style with modern elements — think original 19th century tallboys with contemporary sofas and exposed wooden beams with artsy lamps. Named for some of Rome's most famous streets, each room is a cozy retreat painted in grey, beige and white, and come stocked with indulgent amenities from L'Occitane. Check into the Vittoria Master Room which also comes with an iPad, a fully-stocked kitchenette, and an expansive bathroom fitted with an indulgent chromotherapy shower.
What G-Rough lacks in flash and polish, it more than makes up for with flair and character. Fitting, since it's a member of the Design Hotels collective. Set behind Piazza Navona, a stone's throw from uber-local Campo di'Fiori, the hipster-friendly hotel is the vision of Emanuelle Garosci and Gabriele Salini. Honouring deconstructed Italian style, décor here juxtaposes original features—sloping wooden roofs and patina walls—against vintage pieces by Italian designers like Ico Parisi, Venini and Seguso. The 10 customised suites, each bursting with irrepressible style, come with separate lounge areas and glamorous bathrooms, but the undisputed top suite is the Romantic Suite Rome, which comes with an original bar by Gio Ponti, a 40s-feel mirrored-tile bathroom by Seletti, and a private terrace. The understated style is complemented by knowledgeable lifestyle managers who will plug you into the heart of local Rome, along with the contemporary G-Bar wine gallery which serves up niche Italian wines an art installations curated by Guendalina Salini.
About Gayatri Bhaumik
Always ready for her next adventure, Gayatri took her first flight at 10 days old and hasn't looked back since. After 12 years in Bangkok and seven in Melbourne, she's now based in Hong Kong when she isn't globetrotting. Besides serving as the Travel Columnist for Liv Magazine, she contributes travel and lifestyle stories to a range of publications, including Jetsetter, The Art of Business Travel, and The Loop. Most recently, she was the Deputy Editor at Hong Kong's Artemis Communications, working on titles such as Elite Traveler Asia, Explorer Magazine and Necessity.com. Follow her travels on her blog and Instagram.