Going to Rome is somewhat like going to visit and old and dear friend. It isn’t so much what occupies your day whilst there, it’s more that you are there to enjoy his company. And you know him well. He hasn’t changed much, set in his ways. So is Rome, maybe a tag or two added on the odd building but it’s the same old Rome you have known for so long.
Measured on the long scale of the eternal city a century isn’t a long time but for a hotel to retain its identity since the early days of mass tourism in the late 19th century is quite an achievement. Whilst visiting the affluent Ludovisi district in Rome, the Munich-born hotelier, Francesco Niestelweck, who already managed Hotel d’Inghilterra and Hotel de Russie, fell in love with a three-storey house at the corner of Via Porta Pinciana and Via Ludovisi. In October 1889, he turned the mansion house into a hotel to welcome its first guests, with 63 bedrooms designed by his wife, Berta Hassler, daughter of the owner of nearby Hotel Hassler.
April 2017 saw the reopening and unveiling of Dorchester Collection’s iconic property in Rome, Hotel Eden, following a 17-month renovation. Since its conception at the end of the 1800s, Hotel Eden has welcomed heads of state, royalty and leading personalities in the world of science, literature, art and show-business and may thus add flavour, depth and colour to your visit, staying in an establishment with such rich history. It is a great credit to the owners to have welcomed back its employees in spring 2017 to lead Hotel Eden into its next exciting chapter and general manager Luca Virgilio’s vision “to create a property that continues to enchant both local residents and international travellers alike” seems to have been realised.
It immediately becomes apparent when inside that world-renowned architect and interior designers Bruno Moinard and Claire Bétaille of 4BI & Associés, together with Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku from Jouin Manku designing the restaurants and SPA have succeeded in blending contemporary features with the charm and authentic classic Roman style of the property reflecting the character and culture of Rome. Words would be futile to describe the atmosphere, pictures may do it limited justice. Yes, you must see it with your own eyes.
It wouldn’t matter much which of the 98 guestrooms and suites you would choose, Moinard and Bétaille have sympathetically configured the rooms to accentuate the beauty of natural light. Sophisticated and elegant in design, the guestrooms and suites provide bright and airy spaces with high ceilings and tall windows, framing Rome's stunning skyline and utilising the hotel's central location and city views. Fine fabrics, beautiful artwork and timeless Italian furnishings from leading Italian artisans are used throughout, delicately blending modern luxuries with the charm and authentic classic Roman style of the property.
To this splendour we returned after a whole day in the company of our old friend, letting him guide us to his most beloved treasures, including the Roman Baths of Diocletian. It was therefore most rewarding to sense the same beauty in the sleek new bathrooms, inspired by Roman baths, decorated in white and gold, featuring mosaics, marble vanities, Italian Bottega Veneta toiletries with a walk-in rain shower and separate bath. Not to mention modern luxuries including master-controlled lighting and climate control, Wi-Fi, Bang & Olufsen televisions and sound systems with Bluetooth connectivity.
But even greater delight awaited at La Terrazza, the jewel in Hotel Eden’s crown, awarded a Michelin star in November 2017. Located on the top floor, it offers guests mesmerising views over Rome alongside creative and innovative seasonal Mediterranean dining. “My cooking philosophy is inspired by art and innovation, with the aim to create perfect harmony between exceptional food and a healthy lifestyle”, says Fabio Ciervo, executive chef. To name a dish manifesting this would be Spaghetti with pecorino and Madagascar wild black pepper, flavoured with rose buds and paired with Soente Viognier 2017, Famiglia Cotarella, lingering in our memory.
For a more informal dining the hotel’s second restaurant Il Giardino is an excellent choice but always remember you are in Rome and maybe the most rewarding experience is to find a hidden jewel amongst the many simple but excellent trattorias in in the city. For those choices, the Trastevere district, across The Tiber, may prove to be your best choice.
We find time on our second day to enjoy Hotel Eden’s new urban SPA offering a range of holistic wellness experiences and therapies. It features three suites with a fusion of pampering signature treatments by Sonya Dakar and Mei rituals: the Eden SPA is the only in European location offering the treatments signed by the award-winning Hollywood skincare specialist, known for pioneering innovative techniques and exceptional results, with many celebrities as loyal customers. Reviving the original vaulted rooms, the SPA entrance provides a soft, light atmosphere whilst the treatment rooms offer soothing dimmed lighting and warm interiors.
So the values that have guided the renovation project chime with Niestelweck’s desire to invest in modernisation, whilst maintaining and respecting the highest traditional standards of service; a value that we find very much apparent in this delightful place. We can say without reservation that its unique style, elegance and Italian charm have re-established Hotel Eden as an exclusive and luxurious destination in Rome. It is no wonder that the great maestro of the screen, film director Federico Fellini, always chose La Terrazza for his interviews. And we find no better place to visit an old friend.