The ethereal hotel above the sea…
The ethereal hotel above the sea…
I could see the Piazza del Popolo from the balcony on the right, but this view of terracotta homes is so typically Roman…
Not only is Rome’s Hotel de Russie fashionable, it is a tranquil oasis in the middle of all the action of La Dolce Vita…
Rome has many hotels to choose from depending on your design wants and luxury needs. There are opulent styled rooms and hip boutiques and of course location is key. The Hotel de Russie just off the Piazza del Popolo not only has one of the best locations, it has effortless style and grace. Very polished and design forward yet without all the coldness that can bring with it. Instead the hotel is warm and welcoming, extremely comfortable not to mention remarkably quiet considering the usual noise of Rome’s trafficked streets. And of course the big draw is the enchanting garden space right in the center courtyard. All with the rest of Rome at your feet just out side the door.
From the minute you step inside the glamorous Hotel de Russie it all feels quite zen covered in luxurious touches. The dramatic flower displays done by in house florist Sebastian Flowers are works of art themselves. Alongside the floral art are actual artistic pieces throughout the hotel. Contemporary sculpture mixed with classic roman styled pieces show what the hotel is about, the city of Rome, a city that is ancient, modern and transcending. At one point the famed painter Pable Picasso stayed here and they even have a suite to comemorate that fact. Perhaps it gives off creative vibes? But my eye moves past all of that to the light terracotta and green colours of the courtyard calling to me… “Come sit and have a prosecco…”
View of the center courtyard and garden
But first to the room which was upgrades to a Junior Suite which gave me a little added sitting area. Calming contemporary decor in warm neutral colouring that was immediately inviting and cozy. The bed was heavenly and so comfortable, I slept like a Roman goddess to be sure. And the bathrooms were spacious, with a luxurious size bathtub to soak in, and a well lit sink area. Housekeeping kept the place immaculate and managed to always clean and pick up before my return to the room. Always a BIG plus for me. The room came with a pretty good view of the Piazza del Popolo to my right, and sweeping views of Via del Babuino below.
What makes all good hotels exceptional is always the service. The Concierge desk was excellent, being able to arrange tables and transport for me. I did not require tickets to many of the sights but I am sure they could have done if I had asked. Importantly their restaurant suggestions did not go off a rehearsed list of recommendations for tourists but rather were well thought out depending on the criteria given. They were knowledgeable about what was worth going to and what was new. The public spaces were impressive and service, like all Rocco Forte hotels was flawless.
The hotel boasts a restaurant, bar, and spa. The breakfast buffet can be taken in the garden during warmer months. The fashionable bar is popular among Romans as well especially the garden terrace. But I did also enjoy the indoor bar which was very stylish and the bar is also known for its exciting cocktail menu.
Inside the bar
I was very impressed by the Hotel de Russie and count my stay there as one of my favourites. While Rome can be an assault on all the senses, this hotel gives you a place to relax while still having all that Rome has to offer outside your door. It is easy to walk to shopping down Via de Babuino and not far from the Spanish Steps, while the charming Via Margutta is less than a minute walk from the front door. For a bit of Dolce Vita the famed Bar Canova and Piazza del Popolo is just to the right as you go out. But lets face it, if you really want to live La Dolce Vita then you need to stay at the Hotel de Russie!
Please note I paid for my own stay at the Hotel de Russie and my review is based on that stay.
Hotel de Russie Via del Babuino, 9, 00187 Roma, Italy
Heading to Venice for Carnival? Here are some hotels to consider…
The Bauers Luxurious with glorious views upon the Grand Canal, the Bauer boasts large public spaces and rooms. The room decor is quite grand in that classic Venetian elegance with lush brocade upholstery, Murano glass and choice antique pieces. Importantly the service is exceptional, friendly and accessible while the concierges are some of the best in Venice with an encyclopedia of knowledge on all things Serenissima right down to the Vaporetto timetables. Two bars, an in house restaurant, and in good weather, an outdoor terrace on the Grand Canal itself, this really is Venice at is best.
Hotel Londra Palace With sweeping views over the iconic church San Giorgio, this boutique hotel sits on Riva degli Schiavoni in the choice area between Saint Mark’s Square and the friendly Castello neighbourhood. The rooms lean towards the modern with a paired down take on the usual opulent Venetian decor, this polished hotel is comfortable and fresh.
Hotel Concordia Right on the Piazza San Marco and looking over the Basilica, this more affordable hotel packs a lot into small spaces. While not as grand as a luxury hotel, the hotel is still charming with rooms in 18th century inspired style, not to mention has an excellent location in the center of Venice. A great all-rounder.
Hotel Colombina For something a bit romantic this bijoux hotel on a side canal not far from St. Mark’s Square is delightful, intimate yet still close to all the action. Rooms are decorated in a stream lined 18th century style with Murano glass accents throughout. Gondolas pass by on the canal below.
Ca’ Pisani Hotel The original boutique hotel in Venice, this incredibly stylish small hotel makes up in design what it doesn’t have in views of the canal only a short walk away. Located in the very artistic and charming neighbourhood of the Dorsoduro dotted with artisan workshops and galleries, the hotel also has the distinguished location behind the Academia and a short walk to the Guggenheim Museum. This is an ideal area for those artistically inclined and the hotel is a decor enthusiast’s dream.
The elegant, old world style, Santa Caterina in Amalfi, perfectly captures the spirit of the Amalfi Coast. Grand Tour elegance, as if time stood still, meets the beauty of the blue sea below. Like a nest perched above the coast, with ethereal views and cascading gardens, the Hotel Santa Caterina is perfection. The outdoors are practically indoors with lovely painted floral tiles and green vines delicately hanging throughout the property Pretty, Belle Epoque decor stands majestically over the cliffs and seaside creating a truly magical stay.
The staff is simply the very best, making each guest feel like they are the only person. From the kind and warm reception, to the discreet housekeeping staff, to the eager to please waitstaff, every wish is attended to, happily.
As one would expect the rooms are lovely. Pleasant and serene with creamy tones and light coloured accents. Bathrooms are blue like the sea with lush, gorgeously scented Bvlgari bath products. Many or the rooms have amazing views and the perfume of the flora throughout the property drifts in on warm days and nights.
There is not one, but two outstanding restaurants. The more formal can be found on the ground floor in a glass gazebo terraced room overlooking the sea and the town of Amalfi. Polished and refined yet cheerful with airy space and a relaxed atmosphere. While below, near the water there is a second more casual restaurant, yet still serving exquisite food worthy of much note. Their pasta in lemon sauce is absolutely outstanding! So good it is worth having more than once! Finish off with lemon profiteroles while listening to the ocean waves and there is really no spot more delightful.
Drawing room styled bar up by the main restaurant will temp you with wonderful nibbles for aperitivo hour, and soothe you by candlelight after dinner. There is a spa, and a fashionable boutique to explore, or relax by the pool next to the sea. A complimentary shuttle will take you back and forth to the splendid town of Amalfi, only 5 minutes down the road. That is if you can get yourself to leave this little piece of heaven. The Hotel Santa Caterina really is luxury at its best.
Check in: Friendly and very happy to see you. Quick with a smile and very welcoming while being efficient and getting you settled in and set up quickly. Bags were delivered immediately while I was shown the room by a member of staff from the Front Desk.
Concierge/Front Desk: Eager to grant your every wish. Extremely knowledgeable of the entire area and town, how to get to places, and could set anything up at a moment’s notice. They had information and suggestions on excellent restaurants, not just the the typical well known ones.
Staff: Everyone from check in to the waitstaff could not have been friendlier. Did not encounter any attitude or frowns from anyone the entire stay and service was flawless. You really feel like you are a special guest in someone’s home as the staff was entirely approachable.
Housekeeping: Again, flawless. My room was always made up to perfection, bath soaps and gels replenished liberally, and turn-down service was always done while I was out of the room and I was never disturbed or rushed out.
Rooms: Comfortable with airy decor. White with striped accents of colour, blue tiled bathrooms, and orchid plant made for a homey interior. Bathroom had both a shower and a whirlpool bathtub. My room had a huge jasmine covered balcony with view of the sea which was such a treat!
Beds: A bit simple, but comfortable.
Restaurant: The hotel boasts not one but two wonderful restaurants. Both excellent. One quite formal, the other airy next to the sea. Both offer serene views of the water and tempting dishes.
Bar: I loved how this bar was in the sitting room as you got the sense you were sitting at home -with someone serving you delicious cocktails! Aperitivo hour included some substantial snacks!
Pros: Gorgeous Belle Epoque feel to it and luxurious service to match. Breathtaking views and a property that has it all from elegant fine dining, to relaxation by the pool and sea.
Cons: Only a tiny one, that it is that hotel is not right in town and you need to take the shuttle to get to Amalfi. Though many people might find that a plus, as this gives a sense of it being a bit of a retreat -plus you have all you need at the hotel! And of course the other problem is that you will cry when you leave as you feel you have met some truly lovely people and had such a magical stay!
Extras: Complimentary shuttle service to and from Amalfi town. Their Al Mare restaurant has festive themed evenings every couple of weeks.
Cool chic design oozes from this boutique hotel on the Left Bank in the heart of Saint Germain. French style for sure but maybe seasoned with a bit of South Beach brightness and bold colour to really up the hip factor. Ooh la la! This is not your parent’s stuffy hotel, but then, who would want to stay there when there is the Hotel Bel Ami. With retro, space age pod chairs to swing in, a mint green colour palette running through the decor, and continual sensual scent being spritzed in the lounge like lobby this is a fashionable place.
If you love the Left Bank of Paris like I do, then the location of the Bel Ami could not be better. Around the corner from the church of St. Germain de Pres, a stone’s throw from Cafe Flore, and right in the middle of wonderful shopping you need not walk far to get what you want. The staff are welcoming and affable and even with the ultra stylish decor the establishment feels quite cozy.
Rooms are small in general but feel roomy thanks to the comfortable minimal design with wood, whites, and limited flashes of colour to help give the feel of spaciousness to the rooms. Bathrooms are also quite small but have modern clean design, and I did like the way the bath products in bright coloured bottles added a bit of design conscious flair in a deliberate way to the functionality of the space. The bed was comfortable even though I did find the mattress a bit firm, that is just personal taste, but the pillows were heavenly to sleep on, and I slept well.
The bar downstairs, again, small but uber stylish, is quite the place for events it seems and here there was a bit of a problem (sorry mon amis!). In the evenings, around aperitivo hour this oasis in the middle of St. Germain literally turned into the happening gathering area of the Left Bank. This proved problematic when I wanted to have a cocktail before heading out for dinner one night and there was no room to get to the bar. Instead of giving guests priority, the concierge politely asked me to sit in the lobby space while he fetched the bartender to take my drink order. While this was clearly trying to be accommodating, the problem was that with event spilling out into the open planned space of bar and lobby I felt sort of like I was sitting alone at a party on the corner sofa instead if sitting at the bar relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere. The rest of the time the bar is a tranquil place to be, just not in the early evenings.
I really enjoyed my stay at the Bel Ami and am definitely planning on going back. I felt tres chic just by staying there and I am still dreaming of their perfumed lobby fragrance -I should have bought the candle! This is a hotel that prides itself on its design concept and I loved the style. That said, all types of travellers were guests in the hotel: from the fashionable to the tourist in jeans, from young trendsetters to conservative types. It is not so on trend that it is off putting, it is actually quite relaxed, and accessible. So I guess what I am saying here, is try it. you will like it.
Check-In: Easy, quick and effortless. My room was ready, though it should be noted I arrived just shy of their 3pm Check-In time so that would be expected. Bags were delivered promptly and I was settled in no time.
Staff: Ready to help, just ask.
Housekeeping: Could be better, truth be told. I came back to the room one mid afternoon and my room still hadn’t been made up which I think is unacceptable in a high end hotel. Also turn down service could have had better timing as they repeatedly showed up as I was getting ready to go out for the evening.
Rooms: Decor was modern and stylish but sounds and noises could be heard from rooms next door. Minibar was a bit sparse. Yet for a boutique hotel the room size, though not large, was airy and open.
Bed: While not a sink-in and float mattress, I was still comfortable. And the pillows were divine!
Pros: This is the kind of design hotel that is featured in many books and magazines so part of you will always be chic because you stayed here. And again location plays a big part and this hotel has a great one.
Cons: The fact that it is so trendy makes it an ideal draw for events that take over the public areas.
Extras: Returning guests get a welcome back cocktail on the house.
Location! Location! Location! and the Europa & Regina has a prime one along the Grand Canal with waterfront views of the Santa Maria Salute church. From their terrace you will take in one of Venice’s famed iconic views and be almost close enough to touch it.
From the hotel’s private dock you walk into a baby grand hotel with polished marble harlequin patterned floors, golden murano glass lighting fixtures and fanciful floral arrangements. The decor in the main entrance is classical as one would expect, yet freshened up ever so slightly with a light touch of modern clean lines. As guests walk through the great hall they step back a little bit in time to 18th century Venice and right to the reception desk. Check in was quick and the reception staff and porters got us settled into our rooms with minimal fuss.
Rooms with view of the canal come with a high price tag but even with that said the hotel was near capacity and we stayed in one of the interior courtyard rooms, which unfortunately means no view of the water. However our room was not dark or stuffy and we had a surprisingly amount of light coming in which is rare in many Venetian land locked rooms. Also our rooms had a decent amount of space -everywhere, including closets and bathrooms, also a rarity for Venetian property. My one, small complaint was that this being run by the Westin hotel chain, the room did very much feel like it had that generic commercial hotel decor in the rooms which was a bit of a let down in a hotel of this caliber and in such an opulent city. Even the designer Etro bath products could not mask the standard feel of the bathroom which had a door that needed fixing and a bit of a noisy toilet. The bed though was very comfortable, with crisp sheets and mattresses you can sink into, and after a long day of walking that really is the most important thing.
The staff as one would expect were highly professional and accommodating. Reservedly friendly yet not overly engaging which made for efficient and non fussy service. The Concierge desk was very knowledgeable in just about everything including the up to the minute vaporetto schedules and changes. But when it came to restaurants, they did tend to keep to more predictable tourist hot spots in their gastronomic recommendations, yet could book you a table just about anywhere one might want. There is also a restaurant and bar in the hotel both offering great views over the Grand Canal. Evening drinks on the terrace floating over the water and with a magnificent view of the church is an ideal Venetian experience.
Back to the location, if you decide to travel by land, you are half a minute’s walk to Piazza San Marco and in the heart of all the popular shops. And if you do want to travel by water, there is a Gondola pier waiting just outside. Venice awaits…
View from the terrace
Hotel Europa & Regina
San Marco 2159 • 30124 Venice, Italy
Phone: +39 041 2400001
Pros: One of the best located hotels in the city and spacious rooms.
Cons: Part of a large chain hotel which shows in its unimaginative room decor.
Extras: Terrace bar with fabulous view right on the Grand Canal, and a private dock making taxi arrivals easy.