I always think the best way to see Rome is on foot but you need a central base for that to work. Just a short walk from Piazza del Popolo, the designer shops of Via del Corso, and the Spanish Steps, the 5 star First Luxury Art Hotel is situated down a quiet back street and has just 29 rooms and suites. It was built as a 19th century nobleman’s palace and only opened as a hotel 5 years ago.
Its unique selling point is that it doubles as a contemporary art gallery with 100 pieces of work by young artists and masters of the twentieth century decorating both the public areas and the rooms. They’ve been chosen by the nearby Galleria Mucciaccia and needless to say, they’re all for sale, although they are slightly out of range of my budget. It’s great, however to have a room that’s your own private art gallery, even if it’s only for a few days.
Hotel reception can be a bit hit and miss in Italy but here all the staff speak good English and are only too anxious to help. My bag is quietly taken to my room with no fuss and there’s nobody waiting for the obligatory tip. A few small welcome biscotti sit on a table as I walk into the room and it turns out I’ve been upgraded to a suite. There’s a separate living room with sofa and armchairs in rich blue velvet but the bedroom is where I’m going to be spending most of my time.
As you’d expect it comes with a luxurious king size bed, a designer desk with a multi adapter for electronics, and a sitting area with sofa, chairs and coffee table. The bookshelves are filled with interesting books about Rome and there’s a 42 inch TV cunningly disguised as a mirror above the mantelpiece. Breakfast is not included, but there’s a Nespresso machine waiting to brew my morning coffee. Free Wi-Fi is everywhere.
As well as a marbled floor bathroom with double washbasins, bath and shower, there’s a huge walk in closet, just the thing to get togged up to enjoy the Rome nightlife. To get you in the mood, head up to the 5th floor rooftop terrace where there’s a bar and restaurant offering stunning views over the city. You get the same views from the 4th floor gym, just the ticket for a morning’s workout.
Luxury hotels are all about the small details and I particularly the like iPad on the wall of the lift, perfect for checking your messages on the go. The evening turn-down service always leaves a card with the weather forecast, as well as a small sweet, and of course there’s the contemporary art. Just wandering through the hotel, gazing at the walls is a good way of passing the time, although I still wonder about the life size bull stuck in the lobby, its back stacked with telephones.
Tell me more about the First Luxury Art Hotel in Rome
The First Luxury Art Hotel, Via del Vantaggio, 14 – 00186 Rome.
Rooms are from €355, but the First Suite, where I stayed, starts at €760. All include free Wi-Fi and VAT but not breakfast.
Tel: +39 06 45617070
The Roma Pass offers discounts on museums, entertainment and public transport.