With its abundance of classical treasures, historic churches and Michelangelo masterpieces, not to mention the designer stores, manic traffic and men dressed as gladiators, Rome isn’t the most relaxing city to visit. With so much to see, it can be easy to fall victim to sightseeing fatigue.
This is where boutique hotels come into their own: chic retreats that are small enough to offer a personal service but with the comforts of a much larger hotel. They provide serene spaces where you can unwind and often take advantage of a spa treatment, before returning to the fray. Thankfully, Rome is teeming with such establishments, ranging from restored palaces offering five-star luxury, to friendly, family-run establishments.
Here are the best.
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Best for a Sicilian spa experience: Hotel de la Ville
Neighbourhood: Piazza di Spagna
Set in an 18th-century palazzo perched at the top of the Spanish Steps, the Hotel de la Ville has reopened following a major revamp. It’s larger than most boutique hotels, but has both individuality and style – think strong colours, rich fabrics and bold designs in the bedrooms. The superb spa uses organic skincare products from Sicily and offers everything from Kneipp foot baths and a salt inhalation room, to a hydropool and 24-hour gym with Technogym equipment.
From €665 (£600) per room including breakfast
Best for cosy charm: Boutique Hotel Campo de’ Fiori
Neighbourhood: Centro Storico
There’s a real feel of old Rome at this family-run hideaway, just a few paces from the colourful fruit, flower and vegetable market. It’s an oasis of calm with ivy-clad walls and atmospheric bedrooms with features such as coffered ceilings, frescoes and antiques. After a day’s sightseeing, you can head up to the little roof garden, snuggle up in a comfy chair and watch the sun set over the city.
From €307 per room including breakfast
Best for budget stays: Nerva Boutique Hotel
For uncluttered urban chic at a reasonable price, the Nerva takes some beating. Situated across the road from the Forum di Nerva, which was the smallest of the imperial fora, it once housed a temple to Minerva. Rooms are modern and comfortable, decorated in muted shades enlivened with pops of colour, sleek pendant lights and contemporary artworks. If you want to luxuriate like an emperor, go for the master suite, which has a marble bathroom with a Jacuzzi.
From €156 per room including breakfast
Best for flash fashion: Fendi Private Suites
Neighbourhood: Piazza di Spagna
If you like your accommodation curated rather than merely managed, opt for one of these super sleek suites. The seven elite residences are set in a grand palazzo above Fendi’s flagship store on the Via dei Condotti, the smartest shopping street in Rome. Rooms ooze exclusivity with soft neutral decor, designer pieces by Fendi Casa and platinum prints by Karl Lagerfeld. Fans of Japanese cuisines should make a beeline for the rooftop restaurant, Zuma.
From £500 per room including breakfast
Best for fitness fans: First Roma Dolce
Neighbourhood: Villa Borghese
This contemporary bolthole in a 19th-century palazzo near the Piazza del Popolo is one of the latest additions to Rome’s hotel scene. The atmosphere is that of a stylish residence, with carefully chosen books on art, cuisine and design in the bedrooms, as well as black Italian marble in the bathrooms. Two suites have loft fitness areas, equipped with up-to-the-minute Technogym equipment and there’s even the option to book a personal trainer for in-room workouts, enabling you to hone your bella figura before indulging in the sweet treats on offer in the hotel’s pasticceria.
From €371 room only
Best for art lovers: Elizabeth Unique Hotel
Neighbourhood: Villa Borghese
This is another hotel set in a historic palazzo in the Eternal City, but the Elizabeth sets itself apart through its commitment to fine art. Public spaces and rooms are adorned with works from the nearby Russo Art Gallery including artists such as Luca di Luzio, who portrays parts of the body as imagined islands on an atlas, and Manuel Felisi who creates collages depicting Nordic nature. The light and airy bedrooms have complimentary minibars, and there’s a choice of hearty breakfasts available until lunchtime.
From €553 per room including continental breakfast
Best for historic splendour: San Lorenzo City Lodge
A spiral staircase, lavish frescoes, antiques, a grand piano – the baroque luxury of this apartment is exceptional. The building is attached to the church of Sant’Agnese in Agone and was built as a private apartment for Pope Innocent X in the mid 17th century. It sits at the heart of the busy Piazza Navona and the opulent master bedroom, now equipped with a thoroughly modern Jacuzzi, has a small balcony that gives you a pope’s eye view of the piazza below. The property incorporates two bedrooms and two bathrooms, plus a music room complete with grand piano. One for a very special occasion.
From €4,950 per night (breakfast, afternoon tea, maid service included)
Best for Belle Epoch style: Villa Laetitia
Neighbourhood: Piazza Monte Grappa
Stuccos, marbles, exuberant frescoes – this stylish villa on the left bank of the Tiber dates back to the 1910s and perfectly evokes the elegance of the era. Restored to its Belle Epoch glory by a member of the Fendi family, it now combines period features with contemporary comforts, modern artworks and a Michelin-starred restaurant. The villa makes a secluded base from which to explore Rome and is within easy walking distance of Vatican City.
From €196 per room including breakfast
Best for location: Hotel Santa Maria
A friendly atmosphere and lashings of character more than compensate for this hotel’s lack of cutting-edge style. Rooms are set around a charming courtyard filled with fragrant citrus trees and jasmine – a reminder that the building started life as a convent in the 16th century. Step outside and you’re in lively Trastevere, for centuries the city’s distinctive working-class district. Its narrow streets and picturesque squares are now filled with bars and restaurants, and it’s just a short walk across the Tiber to the heart of imperial Rome.
From £179 per room including breakfast
Best for service: The Fifteen Keys Hotel
This cool townhouse, just a short walk from Termini station, has everything you want in a boutique hotel. It’s not too big – just 15 rooms as the name suggests – and makes a sophisticated retreat in which to unwind. Bedrooms are chic and unfussy with tasteful colours and retro fittings, and there’s a pretty courtyard where you can enjoy breakfast in the summer. Reception operates around the clock and vintage bikes are available to borrow free of charge should you wish to explore on two wheels.
From €300 per room including breakfast
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