REVIEW: Hotel Eden, Rome

By Rachel Roberts | 20 Jun 2022 | Indulge, Travel

For a heavenly and lingering taste of Italy’s la dolce vita, a stay at the peerless five-star Hotel Eden is a must.

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Hotel Eden is the kind of place you want to stay forever and a roll call of late stellar stars – including La Dolce Vita director Federico Fellini, legendary dance partners Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, opera great Luciano Pavarotti and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela – are resident guests. They’re captured in striking signed black and white photographs, alongside other living celebrities such as director Tim Burton, actor Keanu Reeves and actress Jane Fonda in a remarkable gallery that discreetly lines the wall beside the plush-piled stairs that guests take to the Il Giardino restaurant (more of which later).

Some would say that with its impeccable five-star pedigree as one of Dorchester Collection’s portfolio of nine-strong global luxury hotels, Hotel Eden, located in the eternal city of Rome, is itself a supernova in the hospitality industry. Affluent hotelier Francesco Nistelweck first transformed the apartment building in 1889, shrewdly understanding its proximity to the new railway network would attract a monied clientele. 

A breath-taking restoration by Dorchester Collection in 2017 retained the authentic classic Roman style of the property – white marble sourced from the Carrara quarry once used by Renaissance maestro Michelangelo graces bathrooms and floors, for example – while renowned artists added contemporary touches such as hand-illustrated lampshades and modern painted interpretations of Rome.

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We were certainly dazzled throughout our stay. Our Prestige View Room on the fifth floor, one of a total of 98 suites and rooms, was a tranquil haven, all crisp white sheets, perfect air-conditioned climate and a king-size bed with a cloud-like mattress fit for a queen, quite literally. The UK manufacturer ensures a good night’s slumber for HRH Elizabeth II and the British royal family, no less. An intricate hand-painted peacock design, a symbol of immortality in ancient Rome, provided a graceful backdrop, while delicate Murano glass lamps and hand weaved Rubelli curtains nodded to Italy’s rich, world-renowned artisan history.

The white marble bathroom featured a double basin vanity unit and a seriously deep bath and rain-shower, topped off with gold taps. Every toiletry under the sun, courtesy of Bottega Veneta, was also provided. For ease, an iPad allowed us full control of the lights, air-conditioning, flatscreen TV and radio channels; a welcome relief from the maddening ‘game of homes’ that can usually ensue on arrival. It also lit the ‘do not disturb’ light outside our room and could be used to contact the on-call concierge desk and order in-room service. A butler service is also available on request.

A first-rate Nespresso coffee machine (well, it is Italy!) and the impressively stocked minibar, with drinks including Veuve Cliquot and Belvedere vodka, fortified us for sightseeing and Rome’s nightlife, while little surprises, such as handmade chocolates in the shape of the world-famous Colosseum, added to the feeling of being utterly spoilt.

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And oh, what a view. Set in the heart of the Ludovisi quarter, our floor-to-ceiling glass doors opened onto a cute balcony and a sweeping, show-stopping panorama of the city’s landmarks. From the pale marble glow of the dome of St Peter’s Basilica church to the iconic Vatican City complex and the narrow cypress trees and flat-topped Italian pines peppering the Villa Borghese, the glorious park that surrounds the hotel, our eyes hungrily drank in Rome’s staggering beauty.

As the golden disc of the sun started to slip down the sky, we headed to the sixth-floor Il Giardino restaurant for even more stupendous wraparound views and brushed shoulders with a smart crowd of chic women toting designer bags and immaculately groomed men leaving a trail of heady expensive Mediterranean aftershave in their wake. Chef Fabio Ciervo also heads up Hotel Eden’s La Terrazza Michelin-starred restaurant, located on the seventh floor, so we had brought big expectations and appetites.

The stand-out for us was the courgette blossoms stuffed with ricotta, taleggio, black olives and cherry tomatoes. A signature dish, it is wonderfully light, creamy and comforting all in one bite and the creation won its own Michelin star 20 years ago. Today, food pilgrims still travel from all over the world to delight their tastebuds with the dish. The risotto with fermented white asparagus and buffalo mozzarella, with its moreish tangy sharpness, came a close second.

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During the restoration, the kitchen was purposefully relocated from the gloomy bowels of the hotel to a prime, light-filled position on the seventh floor to inspire the chefs in their day’s labours. And the magical view they gaze upon does somehow seem to be distilled in Il Giardino’s Mediterranean and Italian menu.

Explorers will love the proximity of the 18th-century Baroque Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti – the famed 138 Spanish Steps – which are just a five-minute stroll away. Wander a further 15 minutes to the spectacular architectural marvel that is the Trevi Fountain, immortalised in celluloid by Hotel Eden’s long-time guest Federico Fellini in La Dolce Vita’s seminal seduction scene featuring Anita Eckberg.

Every autumn, Hotel Eden celebrates Italy’s reputation for producing iconic movies by transforming La Libreria, a sumptuous lounge and library with a cool hidden cocktail bar, into Piccolo Cinema Eden, where just 24 guests can watch a curated programme of classic films. Thick drapes are pulled around the entire space and old-school ushers tiptoe between seats.

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Director Fellini always occupied the seventh floor during his stay in the hotel. Today, it has been reborn as a separate wing, the Bella Vista suite, a penthouse that guarantees ultimate privacy thanks to its own entrance and dedicated staff.

We’d hoped to take a tour of what would have surely been a stupendous space but were politely ushered out when a super-wealthy regular guest called ahead announcing his arrival within 20 minutes, sending staff into a flurry of preparation. 

We did however, get a glimpse of the next best thing, a Prestige Suite, a glorious 70-86m2 temporary residence with on-point luxury at every turn. From the modern record player cued up with Hotel Eden’s own La Dolce Vita vinyl song collection to the fresh-cut blooms and a full range of bespoke Bottega Veneta perfumes, the attention to detail was faultless. A butler service is also available on request. But no matter which room you are lucky enough to call home during your stay, life will be seriously sweet. 

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