February 20, 2024

Travel Review: Bulgari Hotel Roma

One tip, don’t get weirded out if you’ve booked a facial and get introduced to your ‘masseuse’. Therapists seem to be described as masseurs in Italy, even if they’re not doing a massage. As it was so hot on our visit, instead of wandering round the streets in 40 degree heat, a visit to the pool was a daily necessity.

Lined with golden mosaics, surrounded by marble columns, framed by stained glass windows — oh and a waterfall — it’s where you’d imagine Roman emperors chilling, being fed grapes. Instead, I napped in a charcoal grey fluffy robe and stayed hydrated with still water from the fridge.

What should you do in Rome?

It was our first visit so we felt pressure to see the biggest tourist attractions. Some of them have been standing for 2000 years, so they’re worth a look, surely? Everyone asked if we were going to tick off the Trevi fountain, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps. . . They are all iconic destinations but next time we’ll forge our own itinerary and explore further. For Meatpacking district or Smithfield vibes head to Testaccio Market (a foodie dream), Pignati, an edgier district full of bars, vintage stores and street art, or pre-makeover Shoreditch equivalent, San Lorenzo.

If you do want a bit of culture, be warned that the queues at Vatican are block-busting. You can buy a fast track ticket to skip them, which was definitely worth it, although when you’re inside be prepared for more queues. Visitors snake around room after room of epic art and impressive sculpture but there’s a one way system which you can’t skip. We ended up in the Sistine Chapel after half an hour of go-slow (our step count that day was impressive) and there is no talking, no photos or video allowed and you’re kept on the move. Bare shoulders and midriffs are forbidden so bring a scarf to cover up if you’re planning a visit when you have skin on show.

Taxis weren’t abundant during our trip — you have to take one from a dedicated taxi stand which were mostly empty — or ask your hotel or a restaurant to call one for you, before you’re given a little white slip with your driver’s id. Uber only provides Uber Black in the city so be prepared to wait…

Outside the hotel, Antica Pesa is one of Rome’s must-visit restaurants with Anne Hathaway, Rachel Ziegler and Zendaya all previous diners. We were recommend Armando al Pantheon too but couldn’t get a table. Instead, take-out slices from Bona Pizza (Via di Tor Millina 34) eaten in the street were a gourmet delight (the caper and courgette flower flavour was a dream. ) As with the best things in life it’s all about the high low mix. Elite hotel experience and sublime street food? That’s what holiday dreams are made of. Rome was a joy.

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