By Lisa Loverro
A recent trip to Rome landed me in the Eternal City’s first urban resort, the Gran Melia Rome Villa Agrippina. Besides its ideal location on the banks of the Tiber River, just a few blocks from the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, the hotel sits in the quiet and picturesque neighborhood of Trastevere, away from Rome’s tourist-laden streets.
Having one of the most historic pasts of any hotel I’ve visited, the Gran Melia Rome stands on the site of what was once home to the Roman Empress, Agrippina, mother to the Roman Emperor, Nero. Archeological remains unearthed during the construction put the entire project on hold for almost eleven years but, lucky for me, opened just in time for my visit. Soon to be on display in the hotel’s library, the artifacts will add another level of uniqueness to the hotel’s historic background. Ancient history aside, the beautifully landscaped gardens with majestic cypress tress and the hotel’s outdoor pool provided the perfect relief after a long, sweaty day touring through the Roman ruins.
There are 116 rooms, some housing an outdoor terrace and hot tub, all which are large in comparison to most other hotel rooms in Rome; likewise for the outdoor areas. It was hard to believe I was in the middle of an ancient city while soaking in my hot tub, but the unobstructed views of the Vatican reminded me of the resort’s unique location. The entire staff greets you with a warm “buon giorno” while touching their heart and bowing forward…a nice touch when you’re a stranger in a foreign land. At the helm of the hotel’s restaurant, Vivavoce, sits renowned 2-starred Michelin chef Alfonso Iaccarino, serving fresh pasta, meat and fish dishes certain to satisfy the most critical of foodies. Leave room for dessert and order the Chocolate Souffle!
The poolside day beds, cabanas, cocktail tables and couches add a touch of trendy and hip to the space, having all the makings of the perfect pre-dinner cocktail spot for locals. If you’re a runner like me, you’ll be in heaven and happy to shred those pasta pounds with early morning runs into nearby Villa Pamphili, one of the largest and most visually stunning parks in Rome.
The only thing cooler thing than saying I slept in the former childhood home of Nero was hanging with Madonna’s dance crew who happened to occupy the hotel with me while she was touring in Rome.
Gran Meliá Rome
Via del Gianicolo 3, 00165 Rome, Italy