Rome is one of the “great” cities of Europe and a perfect destination for a luxury weekend getaway. Known as the “Eternal City”, Rome has been the center of art and culture from the time of the early Roman Empire. Rome a offers a perfect combination of luxury hotels, world-class dining, charming cafes and trattorias, great shopping, numerous museums filled with impressive collections of art and magnificent buildings and ruins over two thousand years old.
Our two favorite hotels in Rome are the J.K. Place Roma and Villa Spillati Trivelli. The J.K. Place Roma is a chic modern hotel that will appeal to discrete travelers who want five-star luxury in a boutique hotel while the Villa Spillati Trivelli is the former home of an aristocratic family that will appeal to independent travelers who love the idea of staying at a luxurious private home.
The J.K. Place Roma, sister property to the J.K. Place in Florence and Capri, is a chic boutique hotel with 30 gorgeous rooms and suites. Centrally located near the Spanish Steps and high-end shopping streets, the public areas of this discrete hotel are beautifully designed by Florentine Architect/Designer Michele Bonan with a large airy atrium just off the lobby filled with contemporary furniture, modern art and kitschy Roman statutes, a club-like restaurant with turquoise walls and rust-red leather chairs and banquettes, a popular bar and a sophisticated wood-paneled library. We highly recommend the Master rooms which feature large four-poster beds, stylish furniture, rich wood paneling, and enormous grey-and-white-striped marble bathrooms with double vanities.
J.K. Place Roma // Via Nazionale 200 // website
The Villa Spillati Trivelli doesn’t feel like a hotel, rather it feels like the grand villa of an aristocratic family, which it was. Situated on one of the original Seven Hills of Rome, the Quirinale, the hotel is in a fantastic location just steps from Piazza del Quirinale and a short walk to Trevi Fountain and many of Rome’s historical sites. The family converted the villa into a hotel and has preserved the feel and atmosphere of a private home. Upon arrival, a staff member will open the massive wooden doors to the elegant entry area and welcome you with a drink in the parlor as you complete your check-in. The living spaces, including a drawing room, dining area, living room, and an enormous library, feature wood-paneled walls and high ceilings and are filled with family antiques and heirlooms. The library, with floor-to-ceiling bookcases filled with a well-edited selection of the family’s massive book collection, is an ideal spot for a pre-dinner glass of wine or after-dinner drink from the hotel’s “honor” bar. The villa has twelve beautiful rooms, each with its own unique design and color scheme, and two garden suites. The hotel also offers a fabulous spa with a hammam and five treatment rooms, a nice garden and a rooftop deck with a small bar, lounge chairs and hot tubs.
Villa Spillati Trivelli // Via Piacenza // website
After getting settled in to your hotel, start your Rome weekend with a private tour of the monuments of ancient Rome. By far the best way to learn the history of ancient Rome is with a private guide. We highly recommend Fulvio de Bois and his team of art historians/guides at Imago Artis. Considered one of the best guide services in Rome and a favorite of Rome’s top concierges, Imago Artis has access to some of Rome’s most exclusive and hidden places and can offer special experiences not available to the general public.
Imago Artis // website
One of the most impressive buildings from Ancient Rome is the Colosseum. Imago Artis can provide access to the labyrinth of cells, tunnels and passages that lay beneath the amphitheater where gladiators prepared for battle and wild animals were kept. Other significant landmarks from Ancient Rome include the Palatine Hill, the legendary birthplace of Rome, Nero's Circus Maximus, where chariots once raced round the track, the Roman Forum, the social, commercial and political heart of the ancient city, and the Pantheon, constructed nearly 2,000 years ago by Emperor Hadrian and still today one of the world’s most remarkable structures.
When we are staying at the J.K. Place, we always start the evening with a pre-dinner aperitivo at the hotel’s sophisticated and popular bar.
J.K. Place Roma // Via Nazionale 200 // website
For dinner, we love Pierluigi, a fabulous seafood restaurant located on an elegant small piazza just north of Campo de’ Fiori. The restaurant is a favorite of Rome society and celebrities…you might be dining next to a member of the Fendi family or an American movie star. During the warmer weather, make sure to request an outside table on the charming cobblestone piazza. On a recent visit, some of the standout dishes included “Panzanella” with Shrimp, Clams, Mussels and Squid, a delicious seafood risotto and a whole roasted John Dory. For dessert, don’t miss their light-as-air tiramisu.
Pierluigi // Pizza de Ricci, 144 // website
There are few more perfect spots to enjoy a leisurely breakfast than the beautiful Jardin de Russie located in the Hotel de Russie. This garden restaurant, which rises up a hill at the rear of the hotel, offers a lavish and delicious breakfast spread.
Jardin de Russie (Hotel de Russie) // Via del Babuino 9 // website
For this morning, we suggest an early-morning private tour of the Vatican where Imago Artis can provide priority VIP access before general public admission. The Vatican Museums have over 2,000 rooms that display the papal collection of art that have been collected over that last 500 years. The collection includes Egyptian sarcophagi, Flemish tapestries, Classical antiquities and Renaissance fresco paintings. With an exclusive early morning tour, you will be able to admire the Sistine chapel with Michelangelo's most cherished works – the Creation of Adam and the Last Judgement – before the bustling crowds. After marveling at the Sistine chapel, cross over to St. Peter's Basilica to admire its colossal dome and Michelangelo's Pietà.
After spending the morning at the Vatican, stop for a coffee at Caffe Sant’ Eustachio, Rome’s most famous café. This café has been around since 1938 and is known for serving Rome’s best coffee and frothiest cappuccinos.
Caffe Sant’ Eustachio // Piazza Sant’Eustachio, 82 // website
Finish off the morning by visiting Campo de’ Fiori, Rome’s famous outdoor market. Here you fill find white-tented stalls selling fresh produce, cheeses, spices and fresh flowers.
Not far from the Campo de’ Fiori market is Roscioli, our favorite delicatessen in Rome and a great spot for a delicious lunch. This salumeria, wine bar and tiny restaurant offers more than 300 cheeses, 150 cured meats and an astounding array of wines. If there are just two of you, we recommend sitting at the bar just past the deli counter rather than the small tables at the front. Also, there are larger tables beyond the bar and a wine cellar downstairs. The quality of their ingredients is exceptional so just about everything is delicious. Start with a sampling of artisanal meats and cheeses and a basket of delicious breads from their nearby bakery (considered one of the best in Rome). For your second course, go with one of their simple pastas like cacio e pepe or carbonara. All of this can be accompanied by wine from their huge selection.
Roscioli // Via dei Giubbonari, 21/22 // website
After a leisurely lunch, we suggest exploring Rome’s famous shopping districts. Start at the top of the Spanish Steps, the famous grand steps leading to the Piazza di Spagna, which is the heart of Rome’s most fashionable shopping area. Here you will find all of Italy’s brand-name designer boutiques along Via Dei Condotti, Rome’s most famous shopping street. Also, be sure to explore the “it” stores of Italy that line Via del Babuino and Via Margutta, including Cesari, known for fine linens, towels and fabrics, Saddlers Union for leather goods, Mauricio Grossi known for marbles, Pratesi for linens and Haussmann & Co for watches.
For an innovative interpretation of Roman cuisine, we love Il Pagliaccio, a Michelin two-star fine dining restaurant located on a narrow street not far from the popular Campo de’ Fiori. Chef Anthony Genovese, one of Rome’s top chefs, creates some of the most interesting and sophisticated dishes in Rome. While you can order à la carte, we suggest one of the elaborate tasting menus, which appears on the menu as no more than a simple list of the ingredients used. While rooted in Italian cuisine, you will find many of the dishes are inspired by Chef Genovese’s experience in Asia.
Il Pagliaccio // via dei Banchi Vecchi 129a // website
After dinner, head across the street to Il Goccetto, a tiny wine bar that specializes in small Italian labels. This hidden jewel is filled with locals, many of whom spill out into the street, enjoying an evening of wine and small bites.
Il Goccetto // Via Dei Banchi Vecchi 14
While we generally prefer to sleep in late on Sundays, the best time to enjoy Trevi Fountain without the crowds is at dawn. After breakfast, spend the morning wandering the streets of Rome without a plan…you will stumble upon magnificent churches, picturesque piazzas, artesian shops and hidden sights. If you want to visit a museum, we love the Museo Capitolini for its impressive sculptures, frescoes and the Tabularium.
For lunch, we love Checco er Carettiere, an authentic traditional trattoria located in Trastevere. On Sundays, the trattoria will be filled with Roman families, with the waiters dashing between the tables, under bunches of dried chillies and garlic that hang from the ceiling. The menu offers all of the classic Roman dishes…we especially love the fried Jewish Artichokes, the spaghetti alle vongole and risotto alla Milanese. Save a space for dessert, however, since they own one of the best gelaterias in Rome, which is just three doors away.
Checco er Carettiere // Via Benedetta 10 // website
For the afternoon, we suggest exploring the medieval streets of Trastevere and the nearby Jewish Ghetto, a part of the historic center that most tourists don’t get to visit. The area of Trastevere (which means literally “across the river”) is characterized by its winding narrow streets that still retain the flavor of medieval Rome. Here you will find picturesque plazas, charming outdoor restaurants and trattorias, intimate bars and an array of art galleries and artisans’ shops. On Sunday, you will want to explore Porta Portese, the largest flea market in Europe. Be sure to visit the beautiful Basilica di Santa Maria, one of the oldest Christian churches built in the 12th century over a third-century Basilica, which is famous for its stunning mosaics, ancient marble columns and medieval gold mosaic apse.
After exploring Trastevere, cross over the island in the Tiber river to wander through the Jewish Ghetto, which is today a bustling, lively neighborhood.
Start your evening with a stroll before sunset from the top of the Spanish Steps to the nearby Pincio Gardens. The terrace of the Pincio Gardens, overlooking the Piazza del Popolo and surrounding areas, is one of the greatest places from which to enjoy Rome's picturesque sunsets.
After enjoying the sunset from the Pincio Gardens, head down the hill to the Stravinskij Bar at the Hotel de Russie. The bar, arguably one of Rome’s most romantic and atmospheric, is set in a delightful garden courtyard amid potted palms and filled with candlelit lanterns. The bar offers an excellent cocktail list that includes creative cocktails, including their take on the Aperol Spritz—a version that uses their own secret recipe of wild berries, saffron flowers, citrus essential oils, passion fruit and aromatic spices.
Stravinskij Bar (Hotel de Russie) // Via del Babuino 9 // website
For dinner, we recommend the nearby Dal Bolognese, a restaurant popular with politicians, diplomats and Rome’s high-society but welcoming of tourists. Located on the Piazza del Popolo just around the corner from the Stravinskij Bar, Dal Bolognese serves classic dishes from Emiglia-Romagna in an elegant yet comfortable setting. We love the restaurant for its table-hopping scene as much as for the traditional food. While their signature dish is Bollito Musto (boiled meats) served from a silver trolley, we suggest sticking with their veal cutlets and excellent pasta dishes, especially their tagliatelle alla Bolognese, a house specialty or, in fall, a simple tagliatelle with white truffles.
Dal Bolognese // Piazza del Popolo, 1 // website
As a fitting end to the ultimate luxury weekend in Rome, after dinner, we suggest visiting beautifully illuminated the Colosseum and the ruins of the Forums.
If you prefer the pampering and facilities of a large five-star hotel to a smaller boutique hotel, we recommend the Hotel de Russie, a beautiful luxury hotel located just off the famous Piazza del Popolo and just a short stroll from the Spanish Steps. The hotel offers 122 rooms and suites that center around a peaceful interior garden and large marble bathrooms are covered in mosaic tiles. The hotel also offers a nice gym and spa. For a special indulgence, book the magnificent two-bedroom Nijinsky Suite which offers an extensive private terrace with views over the city.
Hotel de Russie // Via del Babuino 9 // website