In an era when aristocrats rely on visitors to maintain their stately piles, it’s not surprising that an Italian count has turned his palatial offices into a boutique hotel.
How could he not, with one of the best views in Rome? Palazzo Manfredi looks right onto Rome’s Colosseum and Ludus Magnus, the ruined village where gladiators once lived and trained prior to their underground journey into the arena.
A bloody history, perhaps, but an ace location for tourists, who can stroll onto the Forum and get an eyeful of the ruins long after the coachloads have left. However, this elegant Relais & Chateaux property is sufficiently seductive to require a real effort to leave its four walls.
The building, which started life as a hunting lodge in 1500, was transformed by Count Manfredi Goffredo, in 2002, though it took him a few years to realise that the American Bar with an expansive terrace would do better as a gourmet restaurant with the best view in town. Thus most guests dine in at least one night, although they may not realise they need to book ahead to request a view table on the terrace, or indeed one of the few rooms on the narrow end of the building which has the same killer view.
All rooms are beautifully designed in classic style, some with faux-library wallpaper to suggest a library full of ancient books. All are trimmed with sumptuous fabrics and boast luxurious bathrooms furnished with unusual onyx sinks. For honeymoons and other special occasions, there are a few suites including a new penthouse with that heart-stopping Colosseum view.
Dinner is excellent, with a closing roof to keep the terrace open in winter, and observant diners will find fish and vegetable choices aplenty. The view is just as good, and rather less expensive, at breakfast, which consists of a rather minimalist buffet. Service is all you would expect from a member of Relais & Chateaux, and the staff keep information on Rome’s many sites of Jewish interest. There are even a couple of parking spaces for drivers en route to the south who fancy an overnight stop in the Eternal City.
Rooms from £254 double, including breakfast
Palazzo Manfredi, Rome
Via Labicana 125, Rome
Tel: +39 0677 591 38006 77