With European tourism on the decline, now is the best time for a Roman vacation
While European travelers have to wait until November to finally be able to visit the United States, Americans have been fortunate enough to be able to visit most of the major European destinations for months. Yes, traveling to Europe during the pandemic involves additional Covid-related hoops to go through – such as a negative Covid test within 72 hours of arrival – but for willing travelers, there might not be a better time. to visit Europe than at the moment.
For my first adventure across the pond in over twenty months, I headed to the beautiful Italian capital of Rome to start my travel adventures in Europe all over again. With summer turning into autumn, the climate in Italy is ideal at this time of year. And with the usual crowds of tourists nowhere to be found – thinned out not only by the pandemic but by the end of the summer vacation – this is a truly unique opportunity to visit museums, squares, restaurants and, of course, the Eternal City retail stores in a more relaxed and enjoyable way – more like a local than a tourist. Rightly so, the base of my stay was the elegant and iconic Hotel Eden, a haven of peace nestled in a residential area in the heart of Rome.
The Eden Hotel, one of only two Italian hotels in the portfolio of the ultra-luxury Dorchester Collection hotel group, is perfectly located in Rome’s affluent Ludovisi district – close enough to easily walk to many of Rome’s most famous sites. the town (both the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain are a 5-7 minute walk away), but just far enough from the hustle and bustle (and remaining tourists) of the city to provide a sanctuary. Perched atop Pincian Hill, next to the beautiful gardens of Villa Borghese, the hotel’s upper floors offer unprecedented panoramic views of Rome.
Originally opened as a hotel in 1889, the Eden Hotel has been a gem of Roman hospitality for over 130 years, welcoming countless royalty, dignitaries, celebrities and other VIPs. The hotel’s Wall of Fame, leading to its rooftop restaurants and featuring photographs and messages from John F. Kennedy Jr., Marlon Brando, Sean Connery and Nelson Mandela, pays homage to its great history.
In 2015, however, Dorchester Collection closed the Eden Hotel for a major restoration and renovation, opening the hotel in 2017 with an updated look and feel and modernized amenities, including a new urban spa. “The Eden Hotel restoration has strived to preserve the property’s Roman essence while providing guests with the ultimate luxury experience enriched by contemporary styling and state-of-the-art facilities,” said Christopher Cowdray, CEO of Dorchester Collection.
In the opinion of this seasoned traveler, the hotel hit the mark, balancing classic old world Roman style with modern luxury. My suite was not only large, with high ceilings and abundant natural light, but sophisticated and elegant, with fine fabrics and finishes, and the rich, heavy marbles that I associate with the beautiful Roman decor. But at the same time, I loved the suite’s high-tech Bang & Olufsen TVs and sound system, as well as the master-controlled lighting and air conditioning systems. The master bathroom had a selection of delicious Italian Bottega Veneta toiletries. To top it off, when it was time to go to bed, I did so on perhaps the most comfortable mattress I’ve ever slept on – a Vispring, a favorite of no less than the British Royal Family.
Likewise, Hotel Eden’s two signature restaurants, La Terrazza and Il Giardino – both located on the top floor of the hotel with panoramic open-air views of Rome – were exceptional. Michelin-starred La Terrazza offers healthy, daring and innovative Mediterranean cuisine and led by Executive Chef Fabio Ciervo serves as the hotel’s dining option. The restaurant was known to be a favorite of legendary Italian director Federico Fellini, who always conducted his interviews with the press at the same table at La Terrazza. Judging by the tables occupied in the dining room when I visited, La Terrazza is clearly a favorite of many Romans.
Il Giardino – “The Garden” in Eden – and the all day restaurant and hotel meeting place, was where I started my days with a delicious breakfast. My only complaint was that the Italian leather cabins were so comfortable and the views so mesmerizing that I never wanted to leave!
More than its ideal location, its rich history, its beautiful decoration or its refined cuisine, what distinguishes the Hotel Eden more than anything is its service. With a staff of 200 in just 98 suites, the hotel prides itself on providing the best service in Rome. Dorchester Collection was one of the few hotel organizations to fully compensate its staff around the world throughout the pandemic, and as a result, as many luxury hotels scramble to rehire talent, Dorchester Collection has been able to retain its staff intact and maintain the level of service. one would expect from a five star hotel. At the Eden Hotel, the sense of loyalty and gratitude of the staff was palpable, and the service and attention to detail, from the front desk to the concierges, to the waiters and housekeeping, was impeccable – something that I enjoyed. ‘appreciates even more in these days of the pandemic, when human contact is often lacking in the hospitality industry. Little touches – like the personalized leather key fob and the daily treats and notes left in my room – are what separate good hotels from great ones.
Recognizing the need to be creative during this time of reduced travel, the management and staff of the Eden Hotel have developed additional programming to attract guests to its doors. The hotel has an “artist in residence” – the famous Italian fashion illustrator Andrea Ferolle – who visits the hotel twice a month to uniquely capture the history of the Hotel Eden through a series of drawings observation.
The hotel organizes movie nights and workshops in its library, La Libreria.
He even developed an island excursion program, offering day trips to the remote Italian islands of Ponza and Palmarola in conjunction with stays at the Eden Hotel.
Unfortunately, my stay at the Hotel Eden was not long enough to take advantage of all the hotel has to offer. It just gives me one more reason to return to one of my favorite cities.