My partner and I recently embarked on a wonderful holiday to Rome. As an avid devotee of Italian cuisine and someone who relishes the exploring and romance that city breaks can provide, Rome was the perfect choice.
Formerly the home of an Italian aristocrat, the 4-star Leon’s Place Hotel was my chic and stylish base for the week. Travellers preferring cool, contemporary and modern décor need look no further. The delightfully trendy lobby sets the tone, while the rooms continue the trend. Boasting bright and airy bedrooms with floor to ceiling windows, Leon’s Place is the perfect place to retreat and chill out after a busy day of sight-seeing, as well as a great base from which to explore the city and its truly magnificent landmarks.
Breakfast, which is included with the room, ensures much-needed fuel is always close at hand to set you up for a busy day of traversing Italy’s breath-taking capital. Hosted in a quaint underground dining room, the buffet consisted of a mixture of hot and cold options, accommodating for all tastes. I, for one, enjoyed beginning my days in true Italian style: with a cappuccino and fresh pastry! They do say, ‘when in Rome…’, after all.
Leon’s Place sits on the upper edge of the city centre, just south of the beautiful Borghese Gardens. This ensures proximity to each of the city’s major landmarks, which can easily be reached within half an hour at a casual pace. It also means after a day of hustle and bustle you can return to a more tranquil area of the capital for an aperitif before dinner, with refreshing cocktails in the mellow, yet funky, hotel bar going down a treat.
Delightful eateries sit just moments from the hotel so you won’t have to venture far for a delicious meal. Situated down nearby side-streets, you’ll find quaint restaurants offering homemade Italian cuisine for both lunch and dinner. For a truly Italian lunch or snack, head to ‘Pinsere’, a small pizzeria just minutes from the hotel, rated by locals as one of the best in the city. Follow this up with an exquisite dessert by making a bee-line for Gelateria La Romana, Rome’s number one gelateria, located just across the road from the hotel. The queues outside late into the night (and early morning) attest to the popularity of this as Rome’s number one spot for sweet treats! Renowned by Romans as the best gelato (Italian ice cream) in the whole city, I can certainly see why!
When it comes to sight-seeing, taking in Rome’s impressive array of landmarks is best done in the company of a tour guide, so you can truly appreciate the city’s captivating history. Guided tours are in abundance in Rome, but for the best rates book ahead and avoid large groups.
The Colosseum is an absolute must see and I strongly recommend you book your tickets in advance or purchase them from the Roman Forum, an incredible attraction in itself, just a few moments from the grandeur of the Colosseum. Few tourists realise the Roman Forum entry ticket also allows entry to the Colosseum, meaning considerably shorter queues for your ticket at the Roman Forum ticket office. For the best views of the city head to the top of Altare della Patria, commonly referred to as ‘the wedding cake’ and ‘the typewriter’ by locals who are reminded of both by the enormously grand white structure and wide staircases.
For art enthusiasts I recommend a trip to the Borghese Gallery, home to Rome’s most captivating artworks. Book a private or group tour and learn all about the array of fascinating pieces housed there from 1644. Note that you will need to book ahead to avoid disappointment on the day; unlike most galleries, the Borghese has a limited intake of guests every couple of hours to prevent overcrowding. When pacing through the gallery becomes too much, head outside to the beautiful gardens surrounding the gallery and hire a Segway – the best way to take in the enormous splendour of Rome’s favourite park.
For a relaxing sundowner head to the dazzling Stravinskij Bar at the Hotel de Russie, located in the heart of Rome, just moments from the Spanish Steps and off Piazza de Popolo. This refined, yet laid-back haven, set in the hotel’s Secret Garden, provides a welcome break from the loud city streets. It is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of bubbles as the sun goes down and the stars come out, with a luscious, green backdrop ensuring you’ll always want to stay for just one more drink. Who knows, you may even spot a celebrity or two, with recent hotel guests including the likes of Rafael Nadal and Taylor Swift.
Continue on from the Hotel de Russie to the fashionable ‘doRis Ristorante’, just minutes up the road, to sample delicious Italian cuisine in a chilled setting. The spaghetti alla carbonara is superb, and the wine selection vast. Ask your waiter for a drinks recommendation to compliment your meal, sit back, and enjoy. Complete your evening with a stroll to the Trevi Fountain – best seen late at night once the crowds have dispersed and you can secure a seat to admire the grand elegance of Rome’s most famous fountain. Bellissimo!
Once you’ve pounded the pavements of Rome and fancy a change of scenery, make your way to Rome’s main train station, Roma Termini, (a ten-minute walk from the hotel) and journey to Florence. Just 90 minutes by speed train, you’ll be in beautiful Firenze before you know it. Take in the sights of the famous Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo before retreating to Piazza della Signoria for a true Neopolitan style pizza at Circus Ristorante and a refreshing after-dinner cocktail at the Gucci Museo café.
So, if you’re looking for a city break that delivers history, culture and warm weather, Rome cannot be beaten. And let’s not forget the delectable cuisine, which is to die for! To learn more about Leon’s Place Hotel, or enquire further about an Italian escape, call 0207 666 1363 to speak to one of our Destination Experts.