Anantara Palazzo Naiadi Rome Hotel review: opulence in the Eternal City

One of Rome’s grandest hotels also has rich connections to the city’s ancient past

An exterior view of the entrance to the Anantara Palazzo Naiadi Hotel in Rome
The Anantara Palazzo Naiadi has ‘the grandest hotel entrance in Rome’
(Image credit: Anantara)

Rome is a history lover’s paradise. The city is so chock full of ancient relics chronicling its 3,000-year history that it is nearly impossible to carry out building works without unearthing something precious worth preserving. Projects are frequently delayed, sometimes for years. The city broke ground on its third metro line, Metro C, 16 years ago, and has yet to open a single station because engineers keep digging up antiquities. By comparison, the world-famous Colosseum, a hulking amphitheatre constructed from 100,000 cubic metres of stone, was built in just eight years.

It is a small wonder then that the Palazzo Naiadi hotel in central Rome has managed to complete a refurbishment after recently being acquired by luxury hotel brand Anantara. The property sits atop the ruins of what was once the largest thermal bath complex in ancient Rome. “If we want to change a light, we have to call the cultural institute,” said Edoardo Alaimo, the hotel’s marketing and communications manager.

But the renovations have been worth the tedium. With its chic new lobby bar, modern fine dining restaurant, lavish spa facilities, and a stunning rooftop bar sure to lure the city’s young partygoers, the facelift has propelled the Palazzo Naiadi into the future while delicately retaining its rich connections to the past.

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A night view photo of cars driving past the Fontana della Naiadi

The hotel is next to Piazza della Repubblica and the Fontana della Naiadi
(Image credit: Anantara)

Why stay here

Luxury and location are the obvious appeals of the Anantara Palazzo Naiadi. Its resplendent white marble facade is “arguably the grandest hotel entrance in Rome”, said Rebecca Winke in The Telegraph, and the gracefully curved portico greets visitors with just the right amount of palatial pomp. Plush velvet lounge furniture beckons guests into the brand-new expansive lobby bar where they can sneak admiring glances at the hotel’s impeccably styled clientele while enjoying a glass of wine or one of the bartender’s creative signature cocktails. An ornate chandelier made from Murano glass glistens above it all, one of many thoughtfully curated embellishments throughout the property that infuse it with Italian authenticity.

A photo of the lobby bar and lounge at the Anantara Palazzo Naiadi in Rome

Pristine marble floors, soaring ceilings, and a brand-new lobby bar
(Image credit: Anantara)

The hotel is situated in Rome’s Esquilino neighbourhood, about a five-minute walk from the city’s Termini train station. Travelling to other neighbourhoods – or even other cities – is a breeze, but many must-see sites are also within walking distance. That is, if you can ever bring yourself to leave the hotel.

Rooms and suites

The Anantara Palazzo Naiadi has 238 rooms spread across the main building and the so-called Clementino wing, named for Pope Clement XI, who commissioned it as a grain store for the Vatican in 1705. Many rooms have a regal feel, with high ceilings, thick carpets, and gold embellishments throughout. Those located in the Clementino wing still feature the original wooden roof. The presidential suite, which I’m told has hosted both the Dalai Lama and Sophia Loren, comes with a private butler service and a massive Jacuzzi.

A photo of a large hotel bed

The original wooden roof of the Clementino wing adds a historical touch
(Image credit: Anantara)

My spacious junior suite was more humble, but still lavish, down to the lavender pillow mist on the nightstand. Glazed double doors opened onto a private balcony overlooking the bustling Piazza della Repubblica and the Fountain of the Naiads, the perfect perch from which I could watch the world go by while devouring a creamy ricotta and sour cherry tart adorned with gold leaf – a delicious welcome gift from the house chef and a preview of the meal that was to come.

Eating and drinking

This hotel prides itself on its culinary offerings. The crown jewel is Ineo, a fine dining restaurant where “global nomad” executive chef Heros De Agostinis treats guests to an eclectic tasting menu featuring dishes that incorporate flavours from his travels. The red raw Sicilian prawns in a refreshing mandarin ceviche delighted my pescatarian palate, but I couldn’t help eyeing the artisan spaghetti cooked in rabbit stock that adorned the plates of my omnivorous tablemates.

The sommelier expertly selected wine pairings for the party that complemented our various dietary requirements. My favourite was the Stephanie Gewürztraminer, a gorgeous white from the Nicolussi-Leck winery in northern Italy and quite possibly the best wine I’ve ever tasted. It smelled like lychee and honeysuckle but wasn’t too rich or sweet, and it paired well with the black cod with vin jaune sauce. Because I ordered another glass, I know it also went nicely with dessert: yoghurt parfait with green apple and red beetroot gaspacho. I was almost too full to enjoy the sweet selection of homemade macarons that followed – almost.

A photo of a table setting with a glass of wine and a plated pudding

The hotel’s new fine dining restaurant Ineo offers an eclectic tasting menu
(Image credit: Anantara)

After dinner, guests should take the lift to the revamped rooftop restaurant and bar, Seen by Olivier, for a nightcap. Those seeking nightclub vibes will love the resident DJ on the decks, though if you need a quiet moment of zen head over to the poolside and take in the breathtaking view of the city skyline.

In the morning, the hotel’s La Fontana restaurant, with its sprawling breakfast buffet, is the perfect place to start the day with a cappuccino and a homemade Roman pastry filled with whipped cream. Though if you’re a bit more carb-conscious than I, there are plenty of healthier options on offer, too.

A photo of a cocktail glass with a sunset and city views in the background

The Seen rooftop bar and restaurant is a great place to watch the sunset
(Image credit: Jessica Hullinger)

Things to do

The hotel has curated a handful of signature experiences. The “Eat, Pray, Love” package takes guests on a three-hour guided tour of some of the city’s hidden historical gems and quiet vantage points. It can be done by foot, but you’ll see far more if you opt to travel by Vespa sidecar or, as I did, an electric golf cart. Their compact size is perfect for squeezing down quiet cobbled back streets to lesser-known attractions, like the San Pietro in Vincoli church, where Michaelangelo’s statue of Moses is tucked away at the back.

The last stop on our tour was a family-owned bakery in Trastevere called Biscottificio Innocenti, where biscotti are toasted to perfection in a vintage oven from the 1950s. The shop wasn’t empty – the locals were stocking up on their favourite sweets – but it wasn’t packed with tourists, either. The experience was satisfyingly authentic. Other experiences curated by the hotel include an Italian cooking class, a private guided tour of the Vatican Museums or the Colosseum, and a “Diocletian Bath ritual” at the hotel’s lush new spa.

A photo of various biscuits and cookies on shelves

The Biscottificio Innocenti bakery has been churning out biscotti in Trastevere since 1940
(Image credit: Jessica Hullinger)

The trendy Monti neighbourhood is about a 10-minute walk away, where you can meander through thrift stores, sip an al fresco coffee, and enjoy the area’s bohemian vibes. South-east of the hotel is the historic Santa Maria Maggiore papal basilica. But the must-see attraction is the Diocletian Baths, the remains of which are located just across the piazza from the hotel. In its heyday the complex could accommodate 3,000 people and was the centre of Rome’s social scene. Visitors can tour the ruins of the massive swimming pool and imagine themselves having a soak alongside the patricians of ancient Rome.

Back at the Anantara Palazzo Naiadi, take the lift to the basement. Peer through the glass cutouts in the floor to get a closer look at the mosaics that once lined the floor of the Diocletian Bath complex. They were unearthed during construction of the building and have been preserved by the hotel, a charming reminder of the incredible history that is always just beneath your feet in the Eternal City.

Jessica Hullinger was a guest of the Anantara Palazzo Naiadi Rome Hotel. Rates start from €450 (approx. £387) per night in a deluxe double room for two people on a B&B basis with VAT included. della Repubblica, 48, 00185 Roma RM, Italy;

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Jessica Hullinger

Jessica Hullinger is a writer and former deputy editor of The Week Digital. Originally from the American Midwest, she completed a degree in journalism at Indiana University Bloomington before relocating to New York City, where she pursued a career in media. After joining The Week as an intern in 2010, she served as the title’s audience development manager, senior editor and deputy editor, as well as a regular guest on “The Week Unwrapped” podcast. Her writing has featured in other publications including Popular Science, Fast Company, Fortune, and Self magazine, and she loves covering science and climate-related issues.