It may have first been uttered in 387AD, but never could the saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” have been so apt as during my recent stay at the Regina Hotel Baglioni, where attentive staff are only too happy to share insider tips on where to go and what to see. The hotel offers amazing tranquillity and grandeur in the heart of Rome. Sited at one of the city’s most prestigious addresses, Via Veneto, the Baglioni is well- positioned to enjoy Rome’s myriad attractions, including the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Rome Opera House and the famous fashion street, Via Condotti.
It may be, however, that it takes you a while to even want to leave the five-star luxury on offer inside the hotel. Once the residence of Queen Margherita of Savoy (who the pizza was named after), the hotel is housed in a magnificent liberty-style building. And inside, it is no less stunning with elegant Art Déco interiors. Crammed with Italian elegance – antique furniture, silk tapestry and rich damask fabrics – the hotel’s suites all either face the lively Via Veneto or overlook the city. My junior suite has sophisticated marble floors, Neoclassical-style pillars and a spacious seating area.
The attention to detail is second-to-none, right down to the thoughtful little touches like the premium snack selections on offer in the suite. Mornings are spent with a workout in the fully-equipped fitness suite, housed in the Tempio della Salute wellness area, before heading down to the breakfast room, painted in deep pink hues with original artwork.
A good concierge can make all the difference to any trip, pointing you in the direction of those little-known venues that are locals’ favourites. The Baglioni’s concierge tells me about a superb café for mid-morning coffee. To a soundtrack of lively Italians chatting over their own breakfasts, I sample the famous Pane di Rosetta, delicious bread in a distinctive hexagon shape.
Meeting friends from the city for lunch, we head to another hidden gem, the Hostaria Dell’Omo which is virtually unsignposted on the Via Vicenza. It’s usually a sure-fire sign that the food at a restaurant is good if it’s packed with locals and that was the case here. I have homemade Raviolo prepared by an 89-year-old nonna and it is what the late Michael Winner would have termed “historic”.
While no trip to Rome would be complete without visiting some of its famous landmarks, the key to discovering the real Rome is discovering all those little areas and attractions you won’t be told about at the tourist information office. At the Regina Hotel Baglioni, the concierge is full of advice about how to find the places, restaurants and events that only locals usually know about.
To eat with A-list celebrities, politicians and the international jet set, recommendations include the Ristorante Camponeschi overlooking Piazza Farnese and the Antica Pesa in the historic Via Garibaldi, which has set the benchmark for Roman fine dining since 1922.
For shopping, you might head to Franco Litrico, the historic name associated with Roman haute-couture, known for a style and elegance that has helped promote Italian fashion throughout the world. Brugnoli in the Prati district is the place to pick up shoes, leather goods and luxury accessories while Lou Lou in the San Lorenzo zone is a cutting-edge concept store where you can find fashion, design and art.
Art buffs will be spoilt for choice by the galleries and museums in the city. And, it will probably come as an unexpected delight that Rome houses one of the most important collections of Tibetan art in the world at the Museo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale G. Tucci, where you can also see relics from Nepal, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
If you’re travelling with children, don’t miss the Casina di Raffaello, a recreation centre dedicated to three to ten year olds, where there is a varied activity programme and a store selling books and toys. Explora, the children’s museum in Rome, is another must-do. Located in Spazio Flaminio, a recently renovated area not far from the Piazza del Popolo, which up until a few years ago was in serious decay, it has hands-on exhibits including a pavilion structured as a child-size city, complete with bank, fire station and shops.
In the real size city, it’s back to the Regina Hotel Baglioni, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World. I’m given a sneak preview of the hotel’s stunning Roman penthouse suite, which is so eagerly anticipated – it even has its own countdown website.
In a truly unique position overlooking the historic attractions of Rome, it offers unrivalled 360-degree views of the city. Stretching from the Sistine Chapel to the Colosseum and beyond, the views of the Eternal City are breathtaking. Also laid out beneath you are Via Veneto, the Pantheon, Villa Borghese Park and the Vatican. Geared towards the most discerning guests, the Penthouse Suite is 490sq metres wide with a huge 250sq metre panoramic terrace, butler service, an outdoor Jacuzzi, limousine on demand, chef, barman and state-of-the-art video systems. It even comes with its own private concierge to help you devise the perfect “When in Rome” trip just like I did.
Rajul Chande is Owner of London Hotels Insight.