Nestled at the top of one of Rome's highest hills, Monte Mario, in a 15 acre private Mediterranean park overlooking the city sits the stunning Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The road to and from the hotel, which is located in a prestigious residential area of Rome, is almost fascinating as it forms part of one of history's most important paths - the Via Francigena. This was the route for thousands of pilgrims from Canterbury, England, through to France, and onwards to Rome over the centuries. Armies marched along this route, travelers would rest on this hill, and merchants would sell their wares. The hotel's name is a tribute to these travelers who faced danger and exhaustion to come to Rome., as Cavalieri means 'Rider' or 'Knight', reminding today's travelers of this incredible history.
After a beautiful, winding drive up Monte Mario, you arrive at the main entrance of the hotel and are greeted by friendly doormen. The main lobby is breathtaking with its dramatic gold light installation, priceless works of art, and expansive space leading out to a terrace overlooking over Rome. Right away, you know right away that you have arrived somewhere special. Checking in is smooth with friendly, professional, and welcoming reception staff who explain the hotel and its amenities, sending your bags to your room ahead of your arrival.
The hotel opened its doors in 1963 at the height of the 'Dolce Vita' in Rome, a time of significant economic development and and considered to be 'Hollywood on the Tiber' due to its appeal for American film studios and movie stars. Still today, the Rome Cavalieri is a top choice for stars and global jet setters, welcoming everyone from Fred Astaire through to royalty and heads of state. For fans of the film Eat, Pray, Love, this is where Julia Roberts stayed during filming!
The hotel was designed by one of the most important architects of this period as well: Ugo Luccichenti with contributions from Franco Albini and Pierluigi Nervi. The Rome Cavalieri is approximately 3 km from Vatican City and 5 km from the historic city centre. Although the location isn't right in the heart of Rome's centre, it is easily reached by the complimentary shuttle bus or a quick and inexpensive taxi. It was actually quite nice to not stay in the busy centre of the city as it turned into the perfect combination of a city break and relaxed getaway in the Rome Cavalieri's oasis. In addition to all of the main amenities, features, and services that are described in more detail below, there are also boutiques in the hotel for shopping, a bank, ATM, and travel agency inside the hotel. In addition to babysitting services, the hotel is also pet friendly with accompanying pet sitting services!
One of the most incredible parts of the Rome Cavalieri is that it is not just a hotel, but a living art gallery. With over 1,000 pieces in its collection, it owns a museum-worthy collection of paintings from some of the most famous artists in history, French period furniture, exquisite and rare tapestries, sculptures, and other historical artefacts. For instance, two paintings by Niccolo Bambini are on permanent display in the main lobby to admire, and four paintings by one of Venice's greatest painters from the 18th century, Giuseppe Zais, can be found above the Concierge and Reception desks. His paintings can be found in museums around the world, including in London's National Gallery, and in Berlin, Madrid, and Venice, giving a sense of the significance of the paintings owned by the hotel. Other significant painters with works owned by the Cavalieri include Giambattista Tiepolo, Frans Snyders, Alessandro Magnasco, and Andy Warhol's 'Dollar Signs' painting, which is on display in one of the penthouse suites.
Bronze and marble sculptures can be seen in the hotel's public areas, including three rare 17th century Sicilian 'bas reliefs' of multi-chrome marble which are incorporated into the infinity glass structure of the Lobby, Reception, and Concierge desks. Also on display is a piece by Antonio Tantardini called 'The Kiss' (created in Milan in 1861), a piece by Bertel Thorvaldsen called 'The Shepherd Boy and His Dog', and a piece by Cesare Zocchi, a 19th century Florentine sculptor, which represents Minos, the King of Crete and Guardian of Hell.
You won't be able to miss the large tapestries on display in the main lobby, including a rare 1725 Beauvais Tapestry entitled 'L'Histoire du Roi de la Chine'. The hotel owns more than 20 rare tapestries ranging from Flemish 16th century to masterpieces from the Royal Works of Aubusson and Gobelins, which are on display around the hotel.
The Cavalieri's suites and public areas are also accentuated with exceptional French (Louis XV and First Empire) furniture, whose history can be traced to royal palaces and history, including the cradle of Napoleon's son, the 'King of Rome', and a richly decorated baroque commode from the the 18th century, once belonging to the King of Poland. The collection also includes cabinets, commodes, gueridons, consoles, clocks, appliques, and more. Suites are also decorated with unique pieces of artwork and furnishings, including original Karl Lagerfeld sofas, rare 18th century antiques, and Andy Warhol and Robert Indiana paintings.
Travel tip: even if you aren't staying at the hotel, a tour of the art collection can be arranged with the hotel's concierge, in addition to an app available to self-guide you through the collection!
Coming to Rome to indulge in its culinary delights is one of the main reasons to visit, right?? The Rome Cavalieri has no shortage of delicious restaurant and dining options, with the jewel in its crown being La Pergola, the only hotel restaurant in Italy to hold a coveted three Michelin Stars.
Let's start with breakfast as it's the most important meal of the day, of course. Breakfast is served at the L'Uliveto restaurant, which is on the lower ground level of the hotel in a large room and as well as one of the terraces so you can enjoy your meal outdoors overlooking the pool and manicured gardens in warmer weather. What waits for you is a veritable feast so be sure to come hungry. My advice is to do a survey of the expansive offerings first so you know what's on offer to avoid risking being overwhelmed with choice and a lack of plate space! You can find anything on offer for breakfast from classic North American options of eggs, bacon, sausages, french toast, hash browns, pastries, and pancakes; European continental breakfast options of meats, cheeses, and pastries (including the incredible mini donuts!); and, global fare including Italian meatballs and Chinese dumplings! You can enjoy L'Uliveto for dinner as well, which serves a full menu of Mediterranean and international dishes.
Fancy a coffee or afternoon tea? Check out the Tiepolo Lounge and Terrace on the main floor, named after the famous painter whose works you can admire while sipping your cappuccino: 'Ulysses Discovers Achilles Among the Daughters of Lycomedes', 'The Flaying of Marsyas', and 'Hercules and Anteus'. You can enjoy the lounge indoors, or take in the beautiful view and surroundings on the adjacent outdoor terrace. You can also enjoy a light lunch, snacks, or drinks here, as well as take into nightly live entertainment. Enjoy the new afternoon tea called 'Tea with Tiepolo', served daily between 4 to 6:30pm. This tea includes a selection of rare and delicate speciality teas served in bone china, Berlucchi Spumante rose served in vermeil flutes, and delicacies such as quail eggs with caviar and black truffle.
If you're visiting during the summer months when the Roman sun is scorching hot, enjoy a dip in the beautiful large outdoor pool, one of the few pools in Rome! While relaxing poolside, you can order from the Pool Bar by either walking over to the bar to order or buzzing the convenient digital coaster at the table next to your lounger for service. You can choose from a selection of drinks, refreshments, light snacks, and homemade ice cream. While certainly convenient, the service was often very slow, even after asking for someone to take our order several times on different days we were there, and the menu is expensive. At the Chalet Grill, enjoy seasonal alfresco food, which serves hot and cold dishes while screening live sporting events.
If you're enjoying the services of the Grand Spa Cafe, you can choose from a selection of healthy drinks, including freshly squeezed juices, smoothies, herbal teas, and fitness beverages, or light snacks including salads and fresh fruit.
Saving the best for last is La Pergola Restaurant and Bar, which is located at the top of the Rome Cavalieri with its expansive roof terrace with spectacular panoramic views over Rome. The three Michelin-starred restaurant (since November 2005) is under the direction of renowned chef, Heinz Beck. Not only is it the only hotel in Italy to have this accolade, it was Italy's first five-star hotel restaurant to receive the award. You can dine on your award-winning meal under a frescoed ceiling, fine furniture, and 18th and 19th century works of art. During warm summer evenings, you can dine by candlelight under the stars. Opulent table settings enhance your experience, including gold-plated silverware, as well as unique touches such as vintage balsamic vinegars, salts and peppers from around the world, and rare teas and coffees. The restaurant's double-tiered wine cellar is also to be admired, as it holds approximately 53,000 bottles and is the winner of multiple awards, including the Wine Spectator's Grand Award in 2005 and 2008. The 2,500 label wine list features some of the world's rarest Italian and international wines, including 19th century and legendary cult wines.
La Pergola Prizes and Awards
- 2016: Michelin Guide - Three Stars since 2005
- 2012: Gambero Rosso, L'Espresso, BMW Guides unanimously name La Pergola, 'Best Restaurant in Rome' since 2000
- 2012: I Ristoranti di Bibenda La Pergola 'Best Restaurant in iTALY'
- 2012: Wine Spectator's Grand Award, 'Best Wine List' since 2004
- 2012: L'Academie Internationale de la Gastronomie awarded Umberto Giraudo, Restaurant Manager, 'Best Maitre of the Year'
- 2008: Veronelli Guide awarded Umberto Giraudo 'Best Maitre of the Year'
Health and Fitness
There is no shortage of activities to keep fit, relax, and have fun at the hotel. The Cavalieri's Grand Spa Club is considered to be one of Italy's most luxurious spa and fitness facilities, with over 2,500 square metres of wellness, treatment, and relaxation space. There are 10 treatment rooms to enjoy a wide variety of spa services, including La Prairie facials. Unwind with a massage or body treatment, then enjoy one of the two saunas (or both!), whirlpool, or the amethyst Turkish bath.
Stay on track with your exercise regime at the state-of-the-art fitness centre which features a full programme of classes as well as high-tech equipment. Play a game of tennis on one of two Davis Cup red clay tennis courts, or take a walk on the 800m fitness trail within the hotel's expansive grounds.
Take a dip in the three outdoor swimming pools, which includes the main large outdoor pool and children's pool, or the glass-domed indoor pool with its cascading waterfall, hydromassage pool, and Japanese stone walk.
The Rome Cavalieri has 345 spacious deluxe rooms, each with a large private balcony. In addition, there are 25 luxurious suites in a range of sizes, each individually decorated with valuable antique furniture and artwork.
My hotel room was nothing short of spectacular from the moment I walked through the door. Decorated in sunny, plush yellow and gold furnishings, it was luxurious and comforting. Cushy armchairs around a coffee table make a great sitting area, and a lovely workspace / desk if you need to work while staying at the hotel. As I was staying on the Imperial Floor, my suite had a private terrace that opened out to a breathtaking view over Rome. As I had arrived late in the evening, I quickly changed into one of the cozy white robes and a pair of slippers, and sipped a glass of sparkling wine on the terrace, watching the lights twinkle across the city in the warm summer night air - pure bliss!
Those who follow me will know that I have a big thing for the toiletries provided by hotels, as I truly think that offering quality toiletries is an indicator of taste, quality, and luxury. So, you can imagine how pleased I was to walk into the spacious marble bathroom to find Salvatore Ferragamo 'Tuscan Sun' products to enjoy! Going beyond the classic shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and moisturizer, the products included sheet masks (amazing!) and face mists (in a perfect size to pop into your purse to refresh in the summer heat). I was thoroughly impressed.
The plush white bed linens were silky soft, enveloping you as you relax and drift off to sleep. The hotel offers a pillow menu to suit every taste for a good night's sleep, and the mattress itself was dreamy to sleep on.
If you are staying in an Imperial Room suite, you have access to the newly renovated Imperial Club, which offers private VIP check in / out, complimentary breakfast, finger foods, afternoon tea, early evening hors d'oeuvres, and after-dinner drinks. My favourite thing was enjoying the delicious strawberry tarts and glass of sparkling wine on the terrace with an incredible view!
Located on the top floor with spectacular views of the city, this is the largest suite in the hotel. It features an ornate bedroom, marble bathroom, kitchen, wine cellar, and dining room for up to eight guests. There is a living space adorned with antique furniture, wood parquet, and rare 17th century paintings depicting Santa Caterina and Santa Cecilia, as well as mosaic tables and a sofa designed by Karl Lagerfeld. The Valcucine kitchen from the 'Artematica' line is fully equipped to cater for a private dinner or allow guests to feel at home by having the facilities to cook for themselves. Throughout the suite, a subtle yet high quality tech system is built in, allowing guests to control audio, visual, and lighting at the simple touch of a button.
The suite is also adaptable to comprise three additional Imperial Rooms with an adjacent Vista Suite to create an apartment with the benefits of the hotel's facilities, including the Imperial Club.
Service, and the services, offered by a hotel is often the game changer in giving it the edge from competitors. The Rome Cavalieri has outdone itself with an incredible list of experiences and services to enjoy. For example:
- The Atelier: a private lounge which gives guests a place to plan, discuss and organize special occasions. Exclusive, world-class wedding and other event planning services and professional staff help guests with every last detail.
- The Italian Super Car Experience: guests can have the chance to drive an Italian car of their dreams in this experience day. In collaboration with Red Travel, the hotel offers guests the chance to experience a four-hour driving tour on the iconic Mille Miglia route. You will drive through hilltop villages along the winding roads of the route that made the Gran Turismo sports car famous! Choose from a Ferrari F430 Spider, a Lamborghini Gallardo LP 560-4 E-Gear, or a Maserati Gran Turismo - talk about making memories! This experience is priced from €850 per person.
- Experience Life as Roman Gladiator: in the private park of the hotel, guests can learn ancient combat techniques of Rome's Gladiators and have the chance to experience life as a real Gladiator! The Scuola Gladiatori Roma mixes sport with culture, and teaches students how gladiators fought with traditional weapons such as the 'Gladius', the typical gladiator sword, and the 'Trident' a three-pronged spear. Lessons are open to adults and children over seven years of age, and take place on a request basis.
- Cinematic tour, 'The Grand Beauty': this tour is inspired by Paolo Sorrentino's 2014 Oscar and BAFTA winning movie, 'La Grande Bellezza'. You will explore the picturesque Roman areas featured in the film as well as a few hidden locations with the hotel's experienced and resident Art Historian, Alexandra Massini. The full day tour includes a private tour of Rome's iconic sights, including the Colosseum, Palazzo Spada, Piazza Farnese, the Baths of Caracalla, Palazzo Sacchetti, and Villa Medici. There are also shorter options available if you can't devote an entire day. Prices vary depending on the length of the tour you choose and the dining options you select. For example, the price for a family of five starts from €1,345, excluding aperitif and lunch; €1,745 including aperitif with snacks on the terrace of Palazzo Taverna; and upwards.
- Million Dollar Wedding - The Ultimate Wedding: if money is no object, take the hotel up on this incredible wedding experience for up to 100 lucky guests. Guests will fly to Rome on a private jet and arrive at the hotel in a chauffeur driven vintage car. The bride and groom will check-in to the penthouse suite (featuring four original Andy Warhols and a large panoramic roof terrace with private whirlpool). The king size bed will be made up with the couple's choice of monogrammed Italian Pratesi Paradise linen, which the hotel will ship home. All wedding guests will receive handwritten invitations on personalized hand-crafted paper from the Amalfi Coast. Guests can be accommodated in 50 executive floor rooms and suites, and will enjoy private butler service. Wedding pictures will be set against famous landmarks such as the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, and Spanish Steps. Guests can also indulge in spa pampering and professional hair and makeup services in the Grand Spa. The hotel provides a personal wedding planner to oversee all details of the event, both on and off the property. Arrival at the church or synagogue can be by horse-drawn carriage, complete with outriders, or vintage car. The couple can also choose to have their wedding bands custom designed by Italian jeweler, Fabio Salini. A chic cocktail reception on the roof garden overlooking the city will be arranged, followed by an elaborate seven course menu and wedding cake by Heinz Beck, along with Dom Perignon and caviar. Tables will be dressed with Pratesi table linens with 24 carat gold lace and luxury centrepieces. To top it all off (if all of that wasn't enough), the finale is a fireworks display and balloon release from the terrace!
- Something Borrowed for Brides: as part of the bridal tradition of wearing something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue, this program features Italian Princesses (Lucia Odescalchi and Grazia Borghese) lending their custom designed jewelry collection to brides who get married at the Cavalieri.
- Kid's Club: for travelers with children, the hotel offers a Kid's Club (the League of Young Cavaliers) to engage them in fun activities and experiences. It gives children the opportunity to experience art, sports, cooking, and more, while mixing fun with quality learning.
If you're lucky enough to be at the hotel attending an event, the hotel has the largest and most modern congress centre facilities of any European five-star deluxe hotel. With over 8700 square metres of meeting and conference space, as well as a grand ballroom (the Salone dei Cavalieri) capable of hosting 2100 guests, there is more than enough space and choice for events, supported by dedicated event managers and state-of-the-art technology - a must in today's busy and highly connected world.
Hotel prizes and awards:
The hotel is the recipient of many awards over the years, including the following most recent ones:
- 2016 and 2015 World Travel Awards: World's Leading Luxury City Resort, Europe's Leading Luxury City resort, and Italy's leading Luxury City resort.
- 2016 Six Star Diamond Award by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences
- Trip Advisor 'Certificate of Excellence' since 2010.
- 2014 - 2013-2012: World Travel Awards 'Italy's Leading Business Hotel'
- 2014: Travel and Leisure Readers Voted Cavalier Grand Spa Clb 'No 1 Hotel Spa in Italy'
- 2013: Awarded 'Italy's Best Luxury Hotel Spa' at the Luxury Hotel Awards
- 2013: Awarded one of the Best European Hotels by European Finest Hotels Organisation
Getting to the Rome Cavalieri is pretty easy. The Leonardo da Vinci - Fiumicino Airport is 35 km away, and the Pastine-Ciampino Airport is 44km away. From the airports, you can take a taxi directly to the hotel, which is probably the easiest and quickest option as the hotel isn't directly in the city centre, or arrange a private limo transfer through the hotel to pick you up. Alternatively, you can take a train into the city centre and take the hotel's complimentary shuttle from the Piazza Barberini.