HOT SPOT: Rome Cavalieri Hotel, Rome

Boun Compleanno! A byword for Italian glamour is celebrating its 50th birthday

Boun Compleanno! A byword for Italian glamour is celebrating its 50th birthday

Why’s it hot? Set within a 15 acre private park on the hill of Monte Mario, with incredible views over Rome and the Vatican City, this magnificent five-star hotel has welcomed a stream of celebrity guests to the Eternal City, including Fred Astaire, Marcello Mastroianni, John Travolta, Julia Roberts and George Clooney alongside heads of state and royalty. This year it turns 50, and there couldn’t be a better time to check in for a luxurious taste of la dolce vita.

Five-star service: the concierge desk at the Rome Cavalieri Hotel

What’s it got? With the only noise here being the chirp of birds and the gentle lapping of the pool it’s hard to believe you’re only a few miles from the city centre. Now part of the prestigious Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts collection, the Rome Cavalieri has 345 deluxe rooms with private balconies plus 25 luxurious suites. All are decorated in a classically elegant style – think large marbled bathrooms, plush sofas, cool Italian bed linens and antique writing desks. There’s even a pillow menu with over 15 options! Welcome touches include a nightly turndown service and luxe toiletries from Salvatore Ferragamo.

Fitness-lovers can get their health fix at the Cavalieri Grand Spa Club which includes a state of the art techno-gym, three outdoor swimming pools, two tennis courts and a running trail through the grounds. For the ultimate in relaxation book some time at the award-winning spa which has a Turkish bath and offers La Prairie and St Barth treatments. Try the La Prairie Caviar Body Treatment (£157), a 90-minute body scrub and massage which leaves tight limbs not only nimble but gleaming too.

If you’re not staying here but want a taste of the sweet life, join the glamorous locals who flock to Sunday brunch at the poolside L’Uliveto restaurant. The buffet offers the freshest Italian produce – sensuous mozzarella, platters of beef carpaccio and bowls of stuffed sun-dried tomatoes, or ask one of the chefs to whip up their signature pasta dish. It’s the best people-watching spot in Rome and incredible value at £59 a head including use of the pool.

Rome sweet Rome: a deluxe premium room at the Rome Cavalieri Hotel

Wow factor: The Rome Cavalieri has a spectacular private art collection dating from the 17th century including paintings, tapestries, statues and period furniture – to take a tour borrow an iPod from the concierge with a preloaded podcast. In the main lobby you can admire three works by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and a rare 1725 Beauvais Tapestry – the perfect location for afternoon tea. 

For a meal you’ll never forget, book well in advance to dine at La Pergola (closed 11-26 August) where German chef Heinz Beck runs the only three Michelin star restaurant in Rome. Ask for a table by the window or on the outdoor terrace during the summer months to admire the view while tucking into Fagottelli La Pergola (£38) – tiny pieces of handmade pasta which explode with flavour in your mouth. First Lady Michelle Obama loved this so much during her stay at the 2009 G8 Summit she asked for the recipe. A nine-course gourmet menu costs £178, and save room for the petit fours which arrive in a tier of closed drawers, each one a more delicious surprise than the last.

Alternatively, if you’ve just won the lottery, the £8,682-a-night Penthouse suite is spread over two floors with palatial furnishings, Swarovski crystal taps, Andy Warhol paintings and a giant sofa that formerly adorned Karl Lagerfeld’s Parisian home. The ultimate jaw-dropping moment comes courtesy of a hidden staircase that leads to a secret glass ceiling which on the touch of a button slides open to reveal a private roof terrace with a mini pool and view of the dome of St Peter’s. No wonder Leonardo Di Caprio lived here for six weeks while filming Gangs of New York

I’m still standing: Rome’s Coliseum © Deagostini Picture Library

Need to know: In celebration of the 50th anniversary, the hotel has a host of special experiences running throughout the year. You can cruise the streets in a dream Italian car (Ferrari or Lamborghini anyone?), and tour the major sights with your own paparazzo taking shots in 1960s style. Or ask the concierge to book a “Roman Shopping Holiday” with Contessa Barbara Lessona, a fashion journalist who knows all there is to know about shopping in Rome. She can arrange private appointments at major brands like Prada, Fendi and Dolce & Gabbana, and take you to secret boutiques. Check out the chic swimwear of Laura Urbinati (lauraurbinati.com), and don’t miss the Louis Vuitton Roma Etoile store on Piazza San Lorenzo (louisvuitton.co.uk). Housed in the city’s first silent cinema, the restored building still has nineteen seats and a screen showing short movies. On the dining front, go for a lunch where the Romans go – Babette (closed August, babetteristorante.it) is close to the Spanish Steps and offers “homemade haute cuisine”. Once the sun goes down head to Ad Hoc (ristoranteadhoc.com) in Via di Ripetta, which specialises in truffles.

Book now: Monarch (monarch.co.uk) flies from Luton and Birmingham, from £127 return. Deluxe rooms at Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts (romecavalieri.com) cost from £248 with breakfast. Rome 2013 Wallpaper* City Guide (£5.95; Phaidon) lists all the cool spots, and see timeout.com/rome. Get in the mood by watching Roman Holiday on DVD, or the classic Paramount film is back in UK cinemas from 19 July.

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