The Eternal City is seeing an unprecedented boom in luxury hotel openings right now. But for one luxury hotel brand, its first hotel in the heart of Rome was a homecoming.
Although it’s become synonymous with Milan, Bulgari, Italy’s leading jeweler, was established in 1884 in Rome. That made opening the Bulgari Hotel Rome in June a high-stakes endeavor. How does a hotel styled on the culture of Milan play in Rome? Does such a thing even make sense?
More from Robb Report
Bulgari’s answer was to create something that is—from a design perspective—totally new for the brand.
“This is the flagship of the new generation because everything from the size of the rooms to the quality of the materials to the craftsmanship to the quality of the staff is elevated to the next level,” Bulgari Group CEO Jean-Christophe Babin told Robb Report during the opening of the Rome hotel. “For us, it’s a milestone and a turning point, where from the first generation born in Milan, we step up to the second.”
Bulgari has been on a building spree this year, opening in Tokyo, with new hotels in Miami and Los Angeles on the way. But if they’re stretching themselves thin it doesn’t show. During the opening event for the hotel, 200 drones lit up the night sky, creating a dazzling spectacle over the Mausoleum of Augustus. Zendaya and Priyanka Chopra Jonas flew in. They popped hundreds of bottles of Champagne.
But all of the show is backed up by tell. The hotel is draped in shimmering marble and gold. Even the wood is polished to a high sheen. As soon as you enter the renovated late-1930s building at Piazza Augusto Imperatore in the Campo Marzio, you’re greeted by a life-size ancient marble statue of Augustus Caesar from the Torlonia Collection, which Bulgari has restored. The mosaics in the spa mimic the patterns in the Baths of Caracalla.
The hotel houses 114 rooms and suites—spread over seven floors—decorated by ACPV Architects Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel, who handle architecture and interior design throughout the brand’s growing portfolio. They gave the rooms a soft, neutral palette accented with colored marble bathrooms—a motif that is repeated in the fabrics and decor. A sample of weekend rates in October started at roughly $1,825 per night.
As with all of the brand’s properties, the food and beverage program is led by Michelin-starred chef Niko Romito. A small street-facing patisserie sells chocolates and pastries displayed like jewels in glass cases. Come evening, the rooftop bar is one of the city’s hottest places to see and be seen.
Outside, the hotel has partnered with leading local tour operator Imago Artis Travel to offer exclusive experiences, such as tours of the city in vintage Fiat 500s and a mosaic workshop atop the Aventine Hill.
“We want this hotel even more than any other to be immersive and emotional,” Babin said. “I think better than any other hotel we can take our clients into that world of art, history, architecture, craftmanship, just because it’s our cradle.”
Is it the best new hotel in Rome? Judging by the sheer luxe factor, yes. At least, it’s certainly the most exclusive. After all, it’s home to the city’s most expensive suite, which costs a reported $40,000 per night. When it opened, rumors swirled that the restaurant had a six-month waiting list.
Whether it’s worth the price tag depends on who you ask. Gambero Rosso, Italy’s equivalent of the Michelin guide, published a scathing review of Niko Romito’s signature restaurant, calling the food bland and the service “tragicomic.” Will the rich and famous guests who can afford to stay there care what the local press thinks? Not likely, but if the hotel wants to be embraced by the Romans, they’ve got some work to do.
Best of Robb Report