A well-designed trip to Rome offers the traveler the chance to live history, not just to view it. Six properties in the Eternal City do just that by offering their guests a way to experience the past, while enjoying 21st- century comforts.
Margutta 19, which opened July 1 this year, is Alberto Moncadas latest project. Under the umbrella of Rome Luxury Suites, Moncada also owns Babuino 181, the suites at Margutta 54, and Mario de Fiori 37 ; he is also the general manager of the Fendi Suites. Moncada says that Rome does not have enough luxury accommodation; hence, he keeps opening unique local properties in neglected historic buildings.
Margutta 19 is set in an old palazzo on Via Margutta, the street where the movie “Roman Holiday” was filmed. The Moncada family has lived on Via Margutta since Albertos great-grandfather turned the cobblestone lane into what is known as Romes “Artists’ Street” — it was home to Picasso, Stravinsky and Fellini, among many others.
Twelve of the eventual 16 deluxe and classsic suites are available, with some overlooking the back garden and others the charming narrow street lined with art galleries. A large and private garden suite will be ready in early fall. We visited less than a week after the hotel opened and found a well-run operation with very few glitches. To book or ask questions, contact Manuel Barone.
Of Moncadas properties, this is the only one with a full restaurant and bar area (Babuino 181 has a rooftop space for cocktails and breakfast). Operated by Moncadas cousin, Alberto Gaido, and his partners Luca Burnacci, Leonardo Stabile and Mario Esposito, along with Michel in-starred Chef Angelo Troiani, the Assaggia ristorante and bar have tasting menus that recall the recipes of an Italian nonna (grandmother). Though guests may order full-sized dishes, the tasting menu offers the guest a collection of family-style flavors, including some rarely seen outside a home kitchen.
Much like Babuino 181 and Fendi Suites, the suites at Margutta 19 are decorated in refined neutrals, with a functional partial wall separating the bedroom and sitting areas. A Classic Suite, such as No. 104, sleeps two and has two full-sized French doors overlooking the garden, one with a Juliet balcony. There are wide-screened TVs facing each side of the suite. The six Classic Suites range from 420 to 475 square feet; and face the garden.
The Deluxe Suites are slightly larger (529 to 580 square feet) and sleep three between a king-sized bed and a sleeper sofa. Deluxe Suites are available facing either the garden or Via Margutta; ask for one with a terrace with room for chairs. Margutta 19 offers one nonsuite room, Deluxe Room No. 403, which has an internal view. A 540-square-foot Garden Suite with its own 430-square-foot terrace will be available in September 2017.
The bathrooms at Margutta 19 are spacious, lined in travertine, and offer free-standing tubs, double sinks and separate showers.
If Alberto Moncada is the man with experience, Alessandra Di Segni Zarfati is the talented newcomer who has begun her hospitality career with a six-floor Baroque palace overlooking Piazza Navona.
The Fitch Borromini welcomes guests to sleep in the frescoed palazzo designed by Borromini and renovated for Pope Innocent X Pamphilj (Pamphili) in the mid-1600s. The discreet entrance at Via Santa Maria di Anima 30 doesn’t prepare a visitor for the view from the restaurant and many suites, where the storied piazza is laid out below. (Film director Ridley Scott was expected to shoot from the hotel on the day we visited; “Angels and Demons” was shot around the fountain in front of the hotel).
Like other historic properties in Rome, the rooms and suites are not identical, but use the space available within the bounds of preservation regulations.
At almost 1,400 square feet, the Heritage Royal Suite (No. 32) combines five rooms to sleep nine guests; it includes the Orologio Room, a living area where the authentic clock mechanism for the adjacent St. Agnese Church is located. There is a small, private terrace and two full bathrooms. The suite, much of which overlooks Piazza Navona, would work for a family group or group traveling together for leisure or a wedding.
Other suites overlooking the Piazza Navona include the Pamphilj 2 (No. 21), which sleeps four, two in the bedroom and two in the living room (king-sized sofa bed), in a total of about 900 square feet. The Navona Suite (No. 31), which sleeps four in about 500 square feet, also overlooks the piazza. There is a bedroom and double living room with queen-sized sofa bed. Pamphilj Suite 5 (No. 51) on the fifth floor overlooking the piazza sleeps three. The 500-square- foot suite contains a bedroom with king-sized bed, two living rooms (one with a sleeper sofa), and one bathroom with shower.
There are other rooms and suites with views of the medieval Tor Millina and the Via di Santa Maria dellAnima. The Donna Olimpia Suite (No. 24A) features a frescoed ceiling and original 17th-century floors, one bathroom with bathtub and shower, and a king-sized bed. It shares an entrance and can be connected to Donna Olimpia 2 (No. 24 B), which is also frescoed in the living room and includes a queen-sized bedroom, walk-in closet and bath with shower.
Note: Some bathrooms in the hotel have tubs, while others have only showers. Ask for your preference.