Rome has been a tourist hotspot for centuries and is as popular today as it was during the Grand European Tour that brought artists, writers, and wealthy families to Italy from all around the globe. With some 10 million international visitors per year, Rome is well prepared to accommodate the overnighters and reportedly has some 1,600 hotels — not counting Airbnbs and the like — in and around the city.
But we all know that not all hotels are created equal. There is nothing wrong with self-catering apartments, hostels, or super cute boutique hotels — indeed I am also writing a list of my favorite of those. But sometimes you just deserve, or simply want, something a bit more special. And, boy, can Rome accommodate you in that department.
Having long had a definite penchant for luxury hotels, I have searched out, looked at, and chosen some of my favorite luxury stays in Rome, trying to stick with those in and near the center, all allowing you to walk to most of the city’s many attractions within minutes.
1. Hotel Hassler Roma
Sitting right at the top of the Spanish Steps next to the iconic Trinita dei Monti church with its two steeples stands the light pink Hassler Roma. In the hands of the sixth generation of Swiss hoteliers, twins Roberto Jr. and Veruschka Wirth, who inherited the hotel from their father Roberto Wirth in 2022, tradition and service are paramount in this hotel.
Being one of the very few grand hotels in private hands rather than being part of a worldwide chain, originality and personality are also key. Rooms are spacious and individually decorated, with understated elegance at the forefront, but with the odd special quirky touch, be it a select piece of art or décor.
The highlight of the entire property is the penthouse, with views that simply cannot be bettered anywhere in Rome, all viewed from a wide, private terrace, a room complete with grand piano, two bedrooms, a private elevator, and a kitchen. And did I mention the views? Across the entirety of the city? But, in case the penthouse is booked by some celebrity (Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, the Beckhams, and many more have stayed here), the rooms for us non-celebrities are also very nice indeed.
Add a Michelin-starred restaurant, Imago, and a superb bistro, which in summer has outdoor seating in the gorgeous Palm Court, and there is barely a need to leave the hotel.
Pro Tip: Throughout the hotel, under tables, next to armchairs, and even on the dessert platters, you will find tortoises. They were the favorite animal of Roberto Wirth and are staying in the hotel in his memory.
2. St. Regis Rome
If you want grandeur, your mouth falling open upon stepping through the front door, and an extravagant interior, then look no further than The St. Regis Rome set in an 1894 palazzo. Its convenient location near the main train station of Rome (but not too noisy) connects you to the rest of Italy, and the nearby Moses Fountain and National Museum of Rome — filled with amazing mosaics, frescos, and statues amazing mosaics, frescos, and statues — are reminders of Rome’s splendor. But when you step through the St. Regis’ doors, you leave Rome behind.
The brainchild of famous hotelier Cesar Ritz of Ritz London and Ritz Paris fame, this was the first luxury hotel in Rome to have electricity and hot water, and even — reportedly — Rome’s first and still operating elevator, one of those gorgeous metal cages, all wood and brass inside.
All the rooms are palatial, the iconic St. Regis bespoke experiences and butler services are available, and the restaurant Lumen is not only a feast for the eyes, but the menu itself is a delicious mix of typically Roman food and old international favorites. If you are there in the warmer months, make sure you eat in the pretty Palm Court.
Pro Tip: On the ground level, the St. Regis has an art gallery exhibiting internally renowned artists. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, this is worth visiting for that alone, and your visit can be perfectly combined with their famous Afternoon Tea.
3. Hotel De Russie, A Rocco Forte Hotel
Located just off the square Piazza del Popolo on Via del Babuino, which leads straight to the Spanish Steps, the Hotel de Russie is a combination of splendor as well as an oasis in the heart of Rome. From the charming welcome from the top-hatted guy at the front door to the eclectic mix of old-world allure mixed with Art Deco touches, dashes of modern art, and the stunning rooms, which are large and literally palatial, this hotel is simply gorgeous.
But, forget about the lovely rooms, the great service, and the location, the Hotel de Russie is all about the secret garden. The Jardin de Russie restaurant spreads across terraces and courtyards, past stairways, and under trees. It is superbly green and quiet, and even if you should have to sit inside in the winter, the indoor winter garden is nearly as pretty, following the old Italian tradition of bringing the outside inside through delicate murals.
Pro Tip: The drink of choice when it comes to aperitifs in Rome is the spritz, which comes in numerous guises. The Hotel Russie’s Stravinsky Bar has invented its very own, the Stravinsky Spritz, with a blend of saffron, berries, and some secret ingredients.
4. The Grand Hotel Flora
The Grand Hotel Flora’s location is one to impress. Right next to the 2,000-year-old Roman city walls, just outside the gate to the vast and tranquil gardens of the Villa Borghese, and just at the start of the famous Via Veneto and opposite Harry’s Bar (one of them, anyway), you are surrounded by glamor and history. From here you can explore the park, walk down to the Spanish Steps within minutes, and go straight into the center of Rome.
While the outside is all grand Neo-Classical palazzo, inside you have the modern and efficient approach of the Marriott, with some of the largest guest rooms in town. And if you can snag one of the rooms with a view across the ancient city wall and Villa Borghese Gardens, or even with a balcony overlooking them, then you have one of the best spots in the city.
Pro Tip: The rooftop garden Flora Restaurant is beautiful, and from there the views are breathtaking — as are the prices — but for a special treat, this is perfect.
5. Palazzo Manfredi
When you think of Rome, what’s the first thing to come to mind? The Colosseum, for most of us. So, if you could have a room looking out over the ancient Colosseum, so close you can nearly touch it, it would be the Roman dream, no? Palazzo Manfredi is a 17th-century former private residence with a pretty and oh-so-Rome pink hue and shutters on the windows.
There are spacious rooms, all beautifully and individually styled and with superb views across an archaeological dig with the Colosseum behind, or of the lovely gardens stretching on one side. If you can, treat yourself to the Colosseo Suite or the Grand View Junior Suite for views you won’t forget in a hurry. Schedule a daily visit to the roof terrace, for breakfast and sunset at the very least.
Pro Tip: If you are traveling with someone who loves fast cars, why not rent a Lamborghini as part of your hotel package?
6. The First Musica
So far, all the hotels I mentioned are on the east bank of the Tiber, where you’ll find the old town center and the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and the tour groups and crowds. Head over to the west bank though — not to Trastevere, which is even more crowded — but to just opposite the Mausoleum of Augustus and a short walk from the Spanish Steps, and you will find The First Musica hotel.
It’s not an old palazzo, but a modern block covered in a brass exterior shimmering in just the same burnt-orange hue Rome is famous for. Yes, it is modern and yes, it is on the “other” side, but it is a breath of fresh air, when you cross the Tiber, leaving the crowds behind, and with them the noise and stress. Instead, The First Musica, part of The Pavillions Hotels, offers music-themed décor and floor-to-ceiling windows in each room, providing views across the river to Rome’s skyline in its entirety.
In the rooftop bar, live DJs spin records enhancing the tranquility and serenity of this side of the Tiber. And, don’t forget, you are mere minutes’ walk away along the banks of the Tiber from the Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican Museums with St. Peter’s, all on this side of the river.
Pro Tip: Just opposite The First Musica lies The First Arte, the art-themed sister hotel of The First Musica, should you prefer art over music. Dotted with superb modern art pieces and an equally terrific roof terrace, you will have difficulties choosing.
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