It was Saint Ambrose who coined the phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” and I do my best whenever I visit Rome. ”The Eternal City” has a history of over two and a half thousand years and it is truly eternal in every way. The ancient ruins rest peacefully amongst the chaos of the bustling city, and the Romans have learned to seamlessly mix the old and the new; the perfect spot to experience this is the Hotel de Russie–one of my favorite city hotels in the world! Nestled quietly between the Villa Borghese Gardens and Piazza del Popolo, and hidden along the famed Via del Babuino, lies this magnificent 19th century palazzo.
The de Russie opened in 2000 to great acclaim and in the past couple of years has undergone major refurbishments to keep it sparkling and fresh. The sisal in the hallways is spotless, the lighting perfect, the color scheme is natural and the garden courtyard of de Russie is perhaps my favorite part of the entire hotel. The Hotel de Russie is a shining star in The Rocco Forte Collection of hotels. There are 91 rooms and 31suites. All the rooms are incredibly chic and the suites are fantastic and many have large terraces and several have incredible views of Piazza del Popolo and the Pincio hill. Sebastian Flowers has an outpost at the de Russie and has turned the hotel’s beautiful floral arrangements into what appears to be an ever changing art installation. The hotel is probably best known for its treasured oasis of a garden courtyard, but is also renowned for its Wellness Zone — famous for its “Ancient Roman Ritual,” which is a foot treatment like no other and the end result is heaven on your feet.
Like most everywhere I travel, I try to get the inside scoop from the locals. My friends in Rome have the best tips! Here are my picks:
- Santa Lucia, Largo di Febo 12: Beautiful garden set in a tiny square.
- Dal Bolognese, Piazza del Popolo1/2: A minute’s walk from from the Hotel de Russie and always filled with chic Romans.
- Molto, Viale Parioli, 122: A new spot with an incredibly stylish dining room and garden, situated in a lovely residential neighborhood.
- Ciampini, Piazza S. Lorenzo: Yummy for a snack or homemade gelato. Famous for traditional triangle sandwiches.
- Al Moro, Vicolo delle Bollette, 13: Fun spot where I always seem to run into someone I know. Close to the Trastevere neighborhood — always bustling and entertaining to walk around after dinner.
- Le Jardin de Russie, Hotel de Russie: This hotel’s restaurant and bar is always filled with stylish hotel guests and cool Romans — the garden is great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
There are, of course, famous shops quite close to the Spanish Steps (Brunello Cuninelli to Etro to Giorgio Armani–everyone), but here are a few of my special spots to check out:
- Flair via Margutta 55L There are Flair home stores in Rome, NYC, Florence and Milan. Flair has interesting art and home furnishing period pieces from the 1950s, 1960s on up.
- Fleur Luxury Living, Via Bocca di Leone, 46: Fleur is somewhat hidden, but is filled with all kinds of things you’ll treasure. It is a “concept store” which basically means the concept is the buyer has found everything you’d want to own!
- Via Condotti: Don’t forget Via Condotti for shopping. There are a number of great stores between The Spanish Steps and The Hotel de Russie.
Other Must-See Sights
- The Spanish steps and Barcaccia’s Fountain
- The Colosseum
- The Pantheon
- The Roman Forum
- The Capitaline Hill
- The Trevi Fountain (the famous scene from La Dolce Vita was filmed here)
- Piazza Colonna
- St. Ignazio Church
- Piazza Montecitoro
- Piazza Navona
- Vatican City
- St Peter’s Cathedral