Rupert Parker finds an oasis of tranquillity in Rome, with stunning views, yet only 15 minutes from St Peter’s.
It’s impossible to forget that Rome wasn’t built in a day, as I make my way from the train station, ancient ruins jutting out at every corner. It’s a sweltering evening at the height of summer, but I’m climbing up the Monte Mario to my home for the night, the Cavalieri. Suddenly the city lies below me and I’m in fifteen acres of lush Mediterranean parkland and pulling up to the hotel. I’m slightly disappointed by the 60’s boxy exterior, expecting some grand palace, but once inside the opulence of the interiors and the art collection, including three glorious Tiepolos in the lobby, impresses. From my balcony, on the 7th floor, I have a magnificent view of all of Rome, St Peters to the right, the Vittorio Emmanuel II Monument straight ahead and the Coliseum in the distance.
Just below me is the 25m outdoor pool, a cool haven to soak away the travails of the day. My room is spacious, divided into sleeping and living areas and the bathroom is clad in Travertine marble with Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries. I’m slightly disappointed to have two single beds rather than one huge double, but the one I choose is so comfortable and agreeably wide that I find I have no problem drifting off into a deep sleep.
That’s after I’ve visited the Hotel’s Grand Spa which offers a wide range of global pampering treatments, from Shiatsu finger pressure to Ayurvedic healing. At its centre is a spectacular Turkish bath with hot and cold plunge pools, and a fabulous Roman-style relaxation lounge where you can recline like an emperor on cushioned divans. There’s a total of four swimming pools, hydro massage and whirlpools, a state-of-the-art technogym gymnasium with adjoining pilates and yoga rooms. Add two Davis Cup clay tennis courts and a fitness circuit in the spacious grounds and you don’t have to go anywhere else.
The same is true of eating. At the top of the hotel is one of the best restaurants in Rome, if not in Italy – the three-Michelin starred La Pergola is the only one in the city to get this number of stars and Heinz Beck, the German chef, fully deserves them. There’s a wine cellar with over 60,000 bottles, a water menu with 29 choices, olive oils and vintage balsamic vinegars from the best producers in Italy, and the finest ingredients sourced from all over the Mediterranean. Add the magnificent view and you have the perfect recipe for fine dining.
I opt for the more relaxed dining of L’Uliveto restaurant, which overlooks the pool and the landscaped gardens, and take a table outside. The menu features Mediterranean and international dishes, with a healthy nod towards Italian cuisine. I start with three types of 100% buffalo mozzarella, served with marinated vegetables and tomato cappuccino. Outstanding is the smoked mozzarella and when I complement the waiter, he tells me that some people send it back, thinking it’s long past its sell by date. Next is wheat linguine pasta with clams, surprisingly without their shells, although just as tasty. For main course, I can’t resist the rack of lamb, crusted with sesame and pistachio and served with julienne asparagus. |It’s perfectly cooked, red on the inside and deliciously moist. I finish with a selection of cheese, pecorino, brie and gorgonzola, ample portioned and served just at the correct temperature.
I must say I’m impressed by this hotel and it’s the perfect place to relax after you’re been braving the hustle and bustle of the tourist sights during the day. If mobility’s an issue, then they’ll meet you at the airport or the railway station and provide you with a spacious wheelchair accessible room on the ground floor complete with appropriately appointed wheel-in shower.
It’s not cheap but the rates are on par with other luxury hotels in Rome. Enjoy the pool, relax in the grounds and, best of all, enjoy the glorious food.
Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts
Via Alberto Cadlolo 101