[ROME] — Walking by the skinny crowded sidewalks and fancy shopping around Piazza del Popolo, you’d never know this magical garden hides behind the understated entrance. A private Eden all to itself, 3,000 square metres of palm tree gardens climb up the steep hillside. (The same hill that leads up to Villa Borghese Gardens in my previous post)

Rome is known for having small, cramped hotel rooms, but the Hotel de Russie doesn’t suffer from that.  The rooms are modern, airy and elegant, with awesome bathrooms. Ask to have one facing the courtyard, otherwise you’re missing out. Don’t scrimp on the view, otherwise you could be anywhere else in Roma. This is the place you want to splurge.

If you’re ready to ratchet it up a few notches, the Hotel de Russie is the place to do it.

The people watching has always been grand here, starting back with Picasso and Cocteau and Igor Stravinsky to present day celebrities and models and titans of business. The gardens alone are worth the expense, although the elegant rooms and excellent spa round it off. It’s a Rocco Forte hotel, so the service in the garden cafe is top notch, and the people watching worth every penny.

You’ll want to have coffee and cornetto in the morning, lunch in the sun, then cocktails and dinner at night, it’s that cool.

Hotel de Russie Roma view

The location is right off the Piazza del Popolo and just up the street from the Spanish Steps, along Rome’s most expensive shopping streets. Splurge on yourself, you’ll want to come back from your explorations and have a cocktail and say ahhhhhh.

To hell with Airbnbs, this is where you come to get the best of Italian style and hospitality.

The building is classic design and built in 1818, but as a Rocco Forte Hotel, the rooms are understated-ly modern and elegant, with muted luxury and tricked out with everything you need. The Forte daughters have really amped up the poshness since I was last there (one of three stays), So expect more floral patterns and Britishness. You can see the current look on their website.

One thousand dollars is the new four hundred.

If that’s a bit rich for your taste, you can always stop in for a martini or long lunch.

Almost every room has floor to ceiling doors that open onto a Juliet balcony, so you can leave the doors open and let the cool breeze, mellow music and laughter from below waft into your room. It’s almost just as fun to pull up a chair to the doors in your room and just watch all the happenings below.

Hotel de Russie martini

The gardens are so special that it looks like they now have a cool experience where you can reserve a private table several levels way up in the gardens, under the trees looking down. How cool.

(photo is from their website)


Their spa is killer. A saltwater pool, six treatment rooms, sauna, etc. I came back worn out from walking in hot, sweaty Rome all day and had an incredible massage and cool down in the pool and was revived for my martini in the garden. (photo is from their website)


— Last Visited 1999, 2006 and October 2012 —

More Information on the Hotel de Russie

Here’s a review from Conde Nast Traveler, raving about the people watching. And from the Michelin Guide review. And a review in the Forbes Travel Guide. And a post on Hip Hotels. And a great review in The Telegraph. And in Travel & Leisure.

Here are other places I’d suggest staying in Rome.

Here’s a post I made for another favorite hotel in Roma, the Albergo del Senator overlooking The Pantheon. For upscale, if I wasn’t at the Senator or Hotel de Russie, I would stay at the famous Locarno, everyone cool stays there. “The grand dame of boutique hotels” says The Telegraph. Or just stop in for an apero. Just look at this place (photos from their website):

Or the other Rocco Forte amazing hotel that recently opened, the Hotel de la Ville. And one of my other longtime favorites — and the first fancy boutique hotel I stayed in and changed my life, the Hotel d’Inghilterra. It’s so cute and every room has a personality. Great little bar and one on the roof. Try to get a room with a terrace.

(From their website)

Cool places that have been legends for years are the Hotel Raphael, the Lord Byron, which is right next to Villa Borghese Gardens.

For affordable but cool, check out Citizen M. Or Mama Shelter or the Hoxton, try the Hoxton first.

Here are the top Rome hotels from Conde Nast Traveler. Here’s a list of the best hotels in Rome from The Telegraph. I would always trust any hotel list by Mr & Mrs Smith.


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