In 1894 Cesar Ritz opened The Grand Hotel as the most elegant hotel of Rome, the only Italian ‘adventure’ of the London based Savoy Group. Auguste Escoffier was his first chef. Diplomats, heads of state, royalty and famous artists and performers were among his loyal guests, whether sipping a drink, dining, attending a lavish event or occupying its splendidly appointed suites and rooms.
When it opened, The Grand Hotel set new standards. Its water system was the finest in Rome. The plumbers came from London. Running hot water and bathtubs were virtually unknown in Italy at the time. It was Italy’s first hotel to be lit throughout by electricity and the first where every single guestroom had its own private bathroom. It was a synthesis and symbol of tradition, opulence and Belle Epoque modernity.
The hotel has always been a favourite of the Hollywood elite from Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, Ava Gardner to Meg Ryan, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Richard Gere and Hugh Grant, to name just a few.
As a genuine grand dame, St Regis Rome has always been the cultural, social and political revolving point of Italy, recognised by both locals and foreigners as one of the most prestigious venues in the Italian capital. Thanks to its status and location near the Quirinale, the St Regis Rome receives state visitors. Some 80 diplomatic receptions are held in an average year.
As a genuine grande dame property, the St Regis Rome has always been constantly renovated and updated to meet the requirements of the most discerning guests. Most recently, the property underwent a superb renovation led by Pierre Yves Rochon, a recognised authority among the finest interior designers of luxury hospitality.
The lobby is a splendid jardin d’hiver abundant with natural light with a spectacular glass dome rooftop, ficus benjamina trees, and black-and-white marble floors. The 5-metre hand-blown glass chandelier is simply magnetic. The ballroom is back to its original splendour with restored Pre-Raphaelite frescos and Venetian mirrors. And the rooms are modern, elegant, and welcoming with marble bathrooms, terrazzo and mosaic floors, all in the style of the Roman Empire.
The aesthetics are sleek, with a bold mix of contemporary elegance and classic elements. Mention must also be made that Rochon’s complex work not only included a redesign and renovation but also a meticulous restoration. No expense has been sparred utilising the finest materials, with an impeccable quality of finishes and attention to details. Arts have always been playing a very important part, whether restored classic art works such as the grand staircase but also regular art exhibitions. During my stay, the hotel hosted a contemporary art installation by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, “If I Died”.
Despite its sheer size (138 rooms and suites), to this day, the property succeeds in attracting an ideal blend of both corporate or leisure guests, with a personalised and most attentive service, for both guests seeking the ultimate privacy and for guests looking to live lavishly, wishing to see and be seen. The location in the heart of Rome, is within short distance of all major attractions.
The hotel boasts an ideal ratio of suites versus rooms, all with large all-marble bathrooms which feature separate bathtubs and glass walk-in showers. You will love the Acqua di Parma amenities as well as the wide array of other bespoke St Regis amenities including cosmetics. The signature bedding, with the finest Frette linens, is divine, making for a most comfortable sleep. Other St Regis ‘basics’ include the butler service.
The lobby is undoubtedly the centre-point of the hotel, with the LUMEN Bar as the major highlight – from basic drinks to sophisticated cocktails, it would also serve a lighter menu. The hotel also opened a LUMEN Garden, which was buzzing with both hotel guests and local patrons. Much like the rest of the hotel, service was courteous and intuitive, staff seemingly showing a sense of pride for working for such an iconic institution. Both young staff and those who have been with the hotel for decades, would extend the same service, in a most confident manner.
My recent stay at the St Regis Rome coincided with ongoing pandemic. The property never closed during the pandemic, hence the exceptional experience accumulated in handling the many challenges. Nevertheless, the hotel made safety a priority, implementing strict measures to equally protect guests and staff from Covid-19. This has allowed the hotel to introduce comprehensive safety and hygiene measures in an effortless manner.
Oliver Petcu in Rome
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