The Roman Empire was, at its peak, one of the richest and most extensive political structures in all of western civilisation. By 117AD it stretched from what is now Britain at its northern tip to Egypt in the south, dominating the lives of millions of people across vast swathes of land.
Back in the capital, historians recall an era of opulence for Rome’s aristocracy as wealth poured in from the empire.
Suetonius, the Roman historian, and the closest thing there was to Tatler magazine during the Roman Imperial era, described the scale and splendour of Nero’s pleasure palace as a fitting representation of Rome’s wealth, noting its “vestibule which was large enough to contain a colossal statue of the emperor a hundred and twenty feet high” with a “triple colonnade a mile long”.
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The entire house was “overlaid with gold and adorned with gems and mother-of‑pearl” and the dining rooms had “fretted ceils of ivory, whose panels could turn and shower down flowers and were fitted with pipes for sprinkling the guests with perfumes.” Nero ruled ok.
Arriving at Hotel Eden offers a taste of the former grandeur of this old fallen Rome, resurrected here with all the magnificence of Nero’s own construction efforts, but with significantly less of his lunacy. To stay in Hotel Eden is truly to experience the Patrician Roman life.
Where is it?
Just a short stroll from the Spanish Steps, Hotel Eden sits above the centre of Rome, next to the Villa Borghese Gardens, and offers panoramic views over familiar monuments, domes and bell towers. In the evening, sunlight streams through your windows as lime green parakeets flit around the windows, and the sun sets over the more distant of Rome’s seven hills while guests sip expertly mixed cocktails in Il Giardino bar.
The hotel is within striking distance of the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Trajan’s Column and the rest of the city’s historical monuments, not to mention the Eternal City’s countless bars, restaurants, cafes, museums and night spots.
Being a Dorchester Collection hotel, you will likely have some inkling of the lavishness of the decor, the detail of the design, the quality of the food, and the attentiveness of the staff. Even then Hotel Eden impresses on arrival. The main atrium is an art deco paradise designed by French architects Bruno Moinard and Claire Betaille, with swirling iron bannisters, marble inlay walls, beautiful flower arrangements and behind the main arrival space, the Libreria bar – all plush leather recliners, grand pianos and glowing drinks cabinets.
The grandeur continues in the guest rooms and suites. The first thing you notice is the scent of the room, which throughout seems to have been recently sprayed with some rich Oud. The Week Portfolio’s Junior Suite with View lives up to the billing; the view is tremendous, out any of the four vast windows another highlight of Rome greets you.
Beds are huge and sit in the Goldilocks midpoint between firm and soft, with crisp welcoming sheets. The rooms have all the mod cons you would expect, and anything that you might need or have forgotten that somehow isn’t here already, can be summoned at the touch of a button or with a quick phone call.
Bathrooms and showers are usually where exceptional hotels distinguish themselves from merely good hotels, and Hotel Eden’s exceptionalism is no exception. The bathroom positively gleams, and the shower – a wet room connected directly to the oversized bath – feels very much like something constructed by the civilisation that brought you the aqueduct and whose people incorporated bathing into their everyday lives.
On Hotel Eden’s top floor, Il Giardino Restaurant and Bar offers a whistle-stop tour through the best of modern Roman gastronomy, affordable, high-quality wines and a magnificent view of the city thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows. Its all-day bar is chic but relaxed, and from your prime spot by the window or on the terrace, you can plot your next steps around the city.
If you can tear your eyes away from the views across Rome, you’ll be treated to a feast. Read our full review here.
The hotel is also the site of the Michelin-starred La Terrazza restaurant, which boasts the same views as its more affordable cousin, but an even more adventurous menu. The white truffle tasting menu will set you back €450 (£400) per person, but stars the unctuous subterranean mushroom at every course.
When to visit
Rome is one of those cities that is good all year round, though in the height of summer it is absolutely sweltering. Fortunately, Hotel Eden is climate-controlled throughout, so will spare you from the worst of both summer and winter. Next year the hotel will celebrate its 130th anniversary, with events going on throughout the year, so there isn't a wrong time to visit per se, but Easter is always a good bet, when the whole city comes alive with celebrations.
Price and booking
Hotel Eden, Via Ludovisi, 49, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
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