Packed with the relics from over 2,000 years of inhabitation, a first-time visitor to Rome may be tempted to treat the city as an open-air museum, ticking off sightseeing hotspots (the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain) as they go. Yet Rome’s culture, food, and people make for a spirited city that warrants of a camarilla’s perspective.
Located on the grassy knoll between Rome’s Trastevere (a distinct entity from the city proper) and the Vatican (an independent state since 1929), the Gran Meliá Rome is a sprawling resort hotel. Its location on the quiet Janiculum Hill makes the Pope practically a neighbour (only a five-minute passeggiata to Vatican City); close enough to walk to Piazza Navona, while just a step removed from the urban grind.
While the Gran Meliá Rome is still only five years young, the roots of the property go back centuries. A former convent, the site was home to Villa Agrippina, residence of Emperor Nero’s mother. (During Meliá’s extensive excavation—it took 10 years to convert the property to a hotel—numerous relics and archeological remains were discovered, with some on display.) Given the sheer size of the Gran Meliá Rome, a hotel whose gardens and lawns are expansive and duly impressive, it’s remarkable that the 116-key Leading Hotels of the World property occupies such prime real estate―inclusive of sweeping panoramic cityscapes and an outdoor pool.
While the Gran Meliá Rome is still only five years young, the roots of the property go back centuries.
A Brobdingnagian bust of Agrippina greets guests in the contemporary lobby, off of which sits the Library Lounge, a meeting place for tea or an aperitif while looking out to the Vatican walls. Viva Voce is the gourmet dining option; Liquid Garden is the pool lounge bar, and Lunae Terrace the rooftop lounge. The Spa My Blend by Clarins is one of only seven such spas in the world.
The Gran Meliá Rome guestrooms are streamlined and stylish with playful splashes of their signature red adding colour to an otherwise muted palette of soft browns and creams, and where headboards feature oversize artwork inspired by famous Italian paintings from the city’s museums. Voluminous tafetta curtains adorn the windows—a throwback to when the prominent villas of Rome were furnished with endless metres of the lustrous silk. Bathrooms are crafted from marble and natural stone and have powerful cascade showers. Baths act as centrepiece, encased in floor-to-ceiling glass where, should one be so inclined, bathers may partake in performance art, Roman-style.
Despite the historical ties, the Gran Meliá Rome is thoroughly modern at its heart. Docked in each guestroom is the Handy, a free phone to make local calls with custom software that gives guests unlimited data, the Google maps app to navigate, and a guide to sights and attractions.
The Gran Meliá suites with the terraces are the most requested, as outdoor tranquility in Rome is a rare luxury. The Eternal City Suite does not lack comforts, but it’s the 1,300-square-foot terrace with views of St. Peter’s Basilica from its private whirlpool where you’ll likely spend your time. Staying at Gran Meliá Rome is like being an external insider—in the know, yet choosing to look on from a distinctly advantageous perch.
The Gran Meliá Hotel, Via del Gianicolo, 3, 00165 Rome, Italy.
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