Following an extensive renovation in recent years, Hotel Eden has once again set the gold standard for luxury hotels in Rome

 Words: Jonathan Whiley

Any Fellini-esque notions of la dolce vita seem distant when I arrive in Rome, looking every inch a dishevelled Womble on the back of a flight from San Francisco.

The concierge at Hotel Eden is far too polite to mention this of course, but he does encourage me to take a seat in La Libreria, the lounge bar, where “a small surprise awaits”.

Moments later, a sight for sore eyes; a tray bearing snacks and an Aperol Spritz in all its fluorescent orange glory. Cossetted amid the luxurious, grand and historic surroundings – for this is a hotel which dates back to 1889 –  this relatively small, but instinctive gesture counts for a lot.

More are to follow, including a personalised mille-feuille when I enter my lavish quarters which overlook the Villa Borghese Gardens and offer spectacular views across much of the Eternal City (Rome’s main sights are all within walking distance).

The hotel became part of The Dorchester Collection in 2013 and underwent a major 18-month revamp in 2017. Bruno Moinard and Claire Betaille (4BI & Associates) were behind much of the project, which created more space by reducing the number of rooms and the creation of four new signature suites (the Bellavista Penthouse, with private lift and telescope is particularly breathtaking).

Their brief was to preserve the rich heritage, while bringing the hotel into a new chapter and one that would reflect Rome.

Sense of place is retained and reflected beautifully throughout; hand-drawn frescos inspired by Galleria Borghese, black and white marble as a nod to the ancient Roman floor of the Pantheon.

It’s all deliciously soothing and as you head to the roof – where a chic bar and two restaurants await (an entire extra floor was added to the hotel in the ‘70s) – it gets even better. La Terrazza offers a Michelin-starred experience, while Il Giardino offers Roman classics with an innovative twist; the Cacio e pepe with turmeric is very memorable.

Whether lunch, dinner or breakfast – the latter a bountiful selection of Italian produce alongside made-to-order dishes – a team of white blazer-clad staff await, keen to engage but never to distract from that incredible view. Little wonder Fellini chose the restaurant as the setting for his press interviews.

There are reminders, as you retreat back to your room, of the pedigree of previous guests with steps to the rooftop lined with famous names and their tributes; Judi Dench (“I shall never forget your kindness”), Ingrid Bergman (“thank you for a lovely visit in Eden”) and Audrey Hepburn (“your hospitality and kindness are rare in today’s world”).

A long-time storied address for the Hollywood elite, the hotel still recognises the value of drawing a strong local crowd and continuing to innovate. A selection of new experiences have launched for the summer months, including a driving experience in a classic Fiat 124 Spider convertible to explore the Roman countryside and an Italian island adventure, including a helicopter ride and yacht excursion to Ponza and Palmarola.  Like the rest of this show-stopping hotel, there is ‘wow’ factor to be found at every turn.