Grand terrace of a pink mansion house with umbrellas and lots of greenery

Le Jardin de Russie restaurant at the Hotel de Russie, and the National Museum of 21st-Century Arts (MAXXI)

Rome has a lot to offer the modern traveller beyond classical ruins, and at the heart of this burgeoning contemporary scene is the new Hotel de la Ville. Emma Love sings the city’s praises

When Hotel de la Ville, high above the Spanish Steps in Rome, opens on 23 May 2019, it will be the latest in a wave of cool, contemporary destinations to appear in the capital. Joining Hotel de Russie as part of Rocco Forte Hotels, Hotel de la Ville celebrates the tradition of the European Grand Tour in a thoroughly modern way. Located in an 18th-century palazzo, its decor ranges from Renaissance-inspired busts in the Da Sistina bistro to the decorative patterns of blue-and-white ceramics reinterpreted as a wallpaper print. The spa, courtyard restaurant (with its new take on classic Roman dishes) and the 7th-floor bar with 360-degree views are all set to appeal to a new generation of travellers.

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It’s not only the design of Hotel de la Ville which is inspired by the European Grand Tour: both properties are in the heart of the Eternal City (Hotel de Russie is between Piazza di Spagna and Piazza del Popolo), so visitors are ideally placed to discover off-the-beaten-track gems. For instance, alongside Rome’s ancient wonders there are now a number of art galleries that offer alternative attractions. The National Gallery of Modern Art specialises in 19th and 20th-century works by Italian and international artists; the Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome (MACRO), located in a former warehouse, showcases works created since 1960; and the Zaha Hadid-designed National Museum of 21st-Century Arts (MAXXI) is dedicated to contemporary art and architecture. And there is the Palazzo Rhinoceros, which opened in 2018 as part of Fendi’s non-profit art foundation with its exhibitions, rooftop bar and restaurant.

Luxury hotel suite with contemporary luxe furnishings

A grand junior suite at the Hotel de la Ville (above) and the Spanish Steps

Hotel de Russie, named after the Russian Romantic painters who were guests when visiting the city, also blends classical architecture with modern interiors. It has a noteworthy spa, the Stravinskij bar and Le Jardin de Russie restaurant, where in summer tables spill out into the Secret Garden. Near Hotel de la Ville, architecture fans will discover the bizarre 16th- century Palazzo Zuccari, the façade of which features mascherone or grotesque, mask-like mouths around the front door and windows, and the church of Sant’Isidoro where the side chapel houses two 17th-century marble nude female figures designed by Bernini. Covered up by Irish priests in the 19th century, they were unveiled again only in 2002.

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For more contemporary design, there is the Jubilee Church, built in 2003 in the Tor Tre Treste suburb by American architect Richard Meier, and the amphitheatre-like Parco Della Musica by Renzo Piano, where everything from contemporary dance to jazz and film festivals take place. Both hotels can arrange tailor-made experiences for guests, whether they want a behind-the-scenes look at the 19th-century Teatro dell’Opera di Roma or a tour of Monti, the once down-at-heel district now popular for vintage fashion and antiques. All of which demonstrates that this forward-looking city is so much more than its past.

SIX UNMISSABLE ROME EXPERIENCES

1. Behind-the-scenes designer shopping
From a private atelier visit to learning about the craftsmanship that goes into bespoke garments, Hotel de Russie’s ‘Avenue of Style’ experience offers unparalleled access to eleven Italian fashion brands.

2. Private tour of the opera house
Sneak a backstage look at Rome’s most famous classical music venue, the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, which is resplendent in its 19th-century glory.

3. Cycle the city
Go cycling or jogging with Hotel de Russie’s personal trainer and triathlon world champion Danilo Palmucci, taking in the Villa Borghese gardens and architectural landmarks.

4. Discover a hip art gallery
Former London art dealer Lorcan O’Neill’s eponymous gallery is in a renovated stable in the centre of Rome where his roster of artists includes everyone from Rachel Whiteread and Tracey Emin to Richard Long and Francesco Clemente.

5. See optical illusions at the Trinità dei Monti convent
Go straight to the cloister on the upper floor to see the two large and very rare anamorphic wall paintings.

6. An immersive perfumery experience
Hotel de la Ville’s ‘olfactive itinerary’ is a closed-doors visit to a high-end perfumery, set inside a historic building with original frescos.

For more information visit: roccofortehotels.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 19 Issue.