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The St. Regis Grand Hotel - Review - Five-Star Luxury in Rome, Italy

By Susan di Rende

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 The St. Regis Grand Hotel in Rome epitomizes the city it graces.  Rome's timeless elegance comes not simply from its ancient glory.  Historic preservation and modern innovation are both embraced by this city of contrasting charms.  No hotel better exemplifies this duality than the St. Regis Grand Hotel

The magnificent lobby with its lovingly restored opulence takes you back to the glories of the golden era of grand hotels. At the same time, in a masterstroke of design perfectly achieved, the hotel is vitalized by the incorporation of some of the best work of contemporary Roman artists.  The artwork is incorporated throughout the hotel, used as a motif for designating rooms and suites and stimulating the imagination at every turn.  The  result is a palpable sense of living in the grace of culture moving through time. 

 


The St. Regis Grand has always been at the leading edge of style.  When the hotel first opened in 1894, the great Cesar Ritz almost single-handedly transformed Rome into a cosmopolitan city.  Until that point,  upper class social gatherings were in private palazzos only.  Uprisings by Vatican supporters against the House of Savoy, malaria, and a population of less than half a million limited the entertainment options for the Roman elite.

The Ritz Ballroom was the first in Rome, and remains first among ballrooms today


The foyer left leads to the restaurant Vivendo, center to the sumptuous lobby and right to the hotel reception

Ritz built Le Grand Hotel in the style of an aristocratic residence, put in a ballroom able to hold 500 guests ( the first of its kind in Italy), staffed it with employees trained according to his rigorous code of hospitality, and so brought out not only the city's elite, but became t he hotel for aristocrats and dignitaries from around the world.

The lobby is filled with restored antiques

A landmark in its own right,  Le Grand Hotel overlooks the Piazza della Repubblica in the heart of Rome.  Today it continues to be counted among the best hotels in the world.  When Madonna stayed in Rome, she stayed at the St. Regis Grand.  If you are after luxury with a classic Italian gilt grandeur, you should stay here too.

The St. Regis has lovingly restored the antique marble floors and columns


Its success does not simply rest on its legacy.  A complete 10-month, 35 million dollar renovation was completed a few years ago that included over 12,000 square meters of marble, 70 kilometers of cornices, 2300 plaster decorations and 1000 doors in 161 rooms and 23 suites.  Where the antique marble inlaid in the floors could not be repaired, the replacement marble used was also antique.  At the same time, no expense was spared in modernizing the underpinnings of the rooms and baths.  Modern amenities augmented the classical, with up-to-date security, high-speed internet access and the latest multimedia equipment. However, the ubiquitous modernTV screens are tucked away in cabinets, so that if you don't want to watch, you don't have to have that empty black square staring back at you.

Frescoes on the ceilings invite your eyes and spirit upward

The lobby rises in tiers with clusters of sumptuous antique furniture covered in silk brocades and lit by Murano glass chandeliers.  The effect is that of a glowing fireplace on a winter day:  a subdued, inviting comfort full of light and shadow.  The flower arrangements are dramatically elegant and help to lift the eye up to the vaulting ceiling and the grandeur of the whole.  It is a gestalt of elegant living that strikes you everywhere you turn.
 

Every detail in the hotel lobby glows


Directly behind the lobby is the ballroom.  The Salone Ritz is one of the most requested in Europe for its beauty and for the spell it casts over events under its marvelous frescoes.  The US Embassy held its 2004 election night party there and the spirit of common enjoyment smoothed over the partisan edges as it brought the attendees together much  in the way I imagine the aristocracy, cardinals, ambassadors and members of the new Parliament of Italy must have put aside their differences as came in carriages through the snow to Cesar Ritz's grand opening reception and concert on January 11, 1894.

A deluxe room in the St. Regis Grand

It is not unusual in Italy to find a hotel elegant in its public spaces only, but The St. Regis Grand is equally rich in the design of its rooms and suites.  There are 138 guest rooms  and 23 suites in the hotel, all with unique hand-painted frescoes over the bed board of different monuments in the Eternal City. 

The frescoes painted over the headboards depict monuments around Rome


The colors are predominantly Roman reds and golds, the upholstery plush with luxury fabrics and gilt edges. The amenities are modern and the technology up-to-date. The effect is elegant and comfortable at the same time.

Imperial Room 439 has a lofty view over the Piazza della Repubblica

My Imperial Room was spacious and bright, had a sitting area and a work desk with ethernet hook-up. The windows overlooked the Piazza della Repubblica.  With the windows open, the view of the Najada fountain brilliant in the sunlight combined with the bustle of the city continued the vibrant Roman experience made possible by this wonderful hotel. It was easy to settle into the room, our bags and belongings unpacked in the small dressing room,  and take off for the Via Veneto only a few blocks away.  Yet for all the traffic in the Piazza, when the windows were closed and the golden yellow curtains pulled shut, the sounds of the city faded to a distant memory and I enjoyed the sleep of a queen.

Both bed and bath are held to the standards of the Starwood brand, so the comfort and cleanliness are absolutely wonderful.  The baths are marble, with double sinks, fine fixtures and plush robes.  Baths have both shower and tub. Beds have firm mattresses and gleaming white linens.

The marble baths are spacious and appointed with luxury towels, robes and product


The most elegant of the suites is the Royal Suite, a collection of rooms that have literally housed royalty.  For those who seek the best in privacy as well as luxury, the Grand Hotel Royal Suite is a golden oasis.  It has a sleeping wing and an entertainment wing, with options for closing off the whole section of the hotel to include the suite and a corridor of rooms for staff and entourage.  It is also possible to rent the public half of the suite for private dinners or events if someone does not need to stay in the sleeping quarters.

The Royal Suite is truly fit for a king


My favorite space, however, was the Designer Suite.  The moment you walk in, you feel as if you could take up residence and make it your home in Rome.  Elegant, sophisticated and inviting, the artwork infuses you with a sense of aliveness that makes everyday living feel extraordinary.  To stay there while in Rome is to transform your experience of the entire city.  I loved it.

The St. Regis Hotel is not just a place to sleep; it is one of the best places in Rome to eat.  And that is saying something, given the quality of dining in the city. 

Dinner at the Vivendo restaurant was intimate and warm

The restaurant, Vivendo, is an stunningly designed space that feels refined and intimate at the same time.  More modern in overall design than the hotel itself with its evocation of the '30s and '40s,  the restaurant includes artwork, chosen by the same gallery as the rest of the hotel, serves as the unifying element.  The food is equally refined and modern. Traditional recipes are augmented for a modern palate. Could I have continued eating and drinking forever I would have, for every element of the evening was so enjoyable didn't want to finish or ever leave.

The St. Regis, in the restaurant as in the bar and the hotel itself,  has established a program called  the 'Wines of Italy' which allows you to order a broad selection of fine Italian wines by the glass instead of by the bottle.  This unique innovation lets you taste and experience wines from among a selection of 32 labels from all over Italy.  To be freed from choosing a whole bottle allows someone like myself who often travels alone to have the perfect wine for the dish I order.  Should you want a bottle, the 600-label wine list is the province of the Restaurant Manager, Federico Galligani, an enthusiastic sommelier.  The wine cellar, di Vino, also permits guests to visit and engage in wine tastings and even dine in complete tranquility.

Tea time in Le Grand Bar



Le Grand Bar is the place to go for tea in the afternoon or a cocktail in the evening.  Even a quick cup of coffee from a table overlooking the lobby feels refined and timeless. Drinks are elaborate, artistically presented with sprigs of mint, spirals of orange and lemon rind intertwined, or fresh gardenias.


                      


To stay at the St. Regis Grand Hotel is to not simply visit Rome from a hotel, but to be a part of the elegance and glory of Rome every moment you are there at the hotel as well.  The golden glow of the hotel's living history colors your every experience of Rome and your place among the timeless parade of the Eternal City.

A junior suite at the St. Regis Grand

The St. Regis Grand Hotel, Rome
Via Vittorio E. Orlando, 3 Rome

Phone: (+39 for Italy )  (06) 47091
www.stregis.com/rome

Published on Mar 09, 2010

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