Rome Sweet Rome

Ah, Rome. The classical architecture, the romantic ruins, the cobbled streets, the cappuccinos, that familiar heat, the tall ‘pini Romani’, the Aperol Spritzes and that sound of the crickets in the heat of the day. Perhaps it’s because it’s the city where I grew up, and where I spent my    childhood, or perhaps it’s just because Rome is one of the most beautiful places in the world, either way it’s hard not to fall in love with the place every time you visit.

Last time I went it was an extra special visit as it was for the wedding of one of my best friends, who got married at the stunning Villa Miani. So where better to stay than the Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, stumbling distance from the wedding venue (and stumble we did).   

The Rome Cavalieri is a Waldorf Astoria hotel, and certainly had all the promised bells and whistles – lush, manicured gardens, three heated outdoor swimming pools, a three Michelin star restaurant, tennis courts used by professional players and the largest art collection in Europe and one of the largest in the world.

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The best bit was arguably it’s hilltop location, which offers sprawling panoramic views over Rome and the Vatican City from a gorgeous wraparound terrace plus every bedroom balcony. 

(Psst! The hotel is also pet friendly, so if you have a pet in tow, the Very Important Pets programme offers an animal boutique, dog cleaning services and walking services.)

As the hotel is around a 20 minute drive from the city centre, the 15-acre, five-star property provided the ultimate oasis from the sweltering Roman summer, and the perfect place to retreat to after a full day of exploring the hustle and bustle of the city centre.

More is more is definitely the motto when it comes to the decadent decor at the Rome Cavalieri. Think old-fashioned grandeur, with artworks and antiques (the hotel houses almost 10,000 paintings, tapestries, antiques and objet d’art), columns, drapes and upholstery. The super glitz lobby flows out onto a huge terrace with stunning views (and perfect for those al fresco sundowners in the late afternoon sun).

From the lobby with its marble floors and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the pool terrace, to the decadently furnished hotel rooms, this is a place of unbridled opulence. The Planetarium Suite is home to a Warhol or two and furniture designed by Lagerfeld, plus a private rooftop Jacuzzi, and in the lobby you’ll find a grand 17th century Giovanni Battista Tiepolo triptych which is worth a cool $28 million.

Even in our room the décor was as maximalist as it gets, with travertine bathrooms (stocked with Ferragamo products), thick carpets and gold and blue opulent textiles, and, of course, a private balcony overlooking the gardens below.

The room also gave access to the hotel’s Imperial Club Lounge, a discreet private lounge on the seventh floor where you can help yourself to complimentary breakfast and afternoon tea, as well as drinks and canapés all day if you get peckish in between meals.

As the hotel is a little out of the way, they offer a complimentary hourly shuttle bus into the centre (to Piazza Barberini and back) so guests can explore the city itself. 

Although peeling myself away from the sun loungers, the peaceful gardens with towering umbrella pines, and of course the gorgeous glass-walled spa was no mean feat. But the promise of 150 ice cream flavours at Della Palma helped.

After a day of exploring the sights, we came back to the hotel to find the turn-down service had included late night treats in our room as well as pregnancy pillow as a thoughtful touch. The bed was lose-yourself-in-it big, with silky soft bed linen, and there was even a pillow menu, while blackout blinds blocked out any light.

In the morning we hit the breakfast buffet at the poolside L’Uliveto. The impressive spread included everything from croissants, cakes and pastries, breads and cereals to scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, French toast, mozzarellas and cured meats, salads, sushi, fruits, and even freshly carved roasts and a pasta station.

Needless to say it required multiple visits, and we didn’t need lunch!

With full tummies we lounged by one of the outdoor pools, saving our energy for the wedding which would take place at the next door Villa Miani later that day.

The sun loungers had buzzers for waiter service!

The Grand Spa covers over 25,000 square feet of swimming pools, baths and saunas, treatment rooms and fitness facilities as well as two clay tennis courts (played on by both Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic during the Italian Open). 

After some sunbathing we escaped the midday heat and lazed around the glass domed, indoor pool under the cascading waterfall, and getting our sore shoulders kneaded by powerful underwater jets.

The interiors echoed Rome’s ancient baths, complete with busts of emperors adorning the mosaic-clad walls and marble whirlpools and an amethyst hammam.

There’s also an extensive treatment menu with lovely La Prairie products and a decadent range of facials. When in Rome…

We arrived at the wedding feeling fresh and de-stressed, and by the end of the night we were able to stumble back to our beds via a little secret passage that connects the two properties.