While the monuments and museums in Rome remain eternal, what we are most excited about are the city’s new boutique hotels. Three such have caught our eye—all the creation of Count Alberto Moncada. The most recent is Babuino 181, which opened in March. The building is hidden from plain sight, with only the flag above the doorway indicating the presence of a hotel. Enter the double glass doors of this renovated city palace to discover a “contemporary comfortable” ambiance.
This small treasure appeals to guests seeking a high level of service and amenities, and an intimate atmosphere, all on one of the best streets in town. Despite its terrific location, between the Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps, during our stay we heard no street noise to disturb our sleep in Room No. 201, a standard room that’s surprisingly spacious and well-appointed.
The Deluxe Suites are also large and can sleep three guests. We checked out No. 105 and found smooth natural woods and neutral fabrics, plus a big golden marble bathroom with huge tub, separate shower and double sink. For a larger group, connect this one to Double Deluxe No. 104. Upstairs, Deluxe Suite No. 5 is even more delectable: it has its own small balcony.
The star of Babuino 181 is the Babuino Suite, with its grand terrace (perfect for a cocktail party or an intimate honeymoon breakfast), three-windowed living room, quiet bedroom overlooking the courtyard and bathroom marbled in gold tones. This suite can connect to No. 301 to add another bedroom. This was the ideal choice for the family from California we met in the breakfast lounge, but it could also work well for two couples or business colleagues.
Of course, at Babuino 181 Nespresso coffee/tea machines are standard, along with iPhone docks and Wi-Fi and a laptop to borrow if you didn’t bring yours. The walk-in closets have enough room to stash all your shopping bags, business paraphernalia and suitcases, and still have room for your clothes. Somehow, Moncada and his architect managed to install a glass elevator in the palazzo to whisk guests upstairs.
The four luxury suites hidden in the Moncada family’s building at Margutta 54 are for those wanting the privacy of an apartment and the full service of a hotel. Moncada’s great-grandfather built this structure as studios for artists, such as Picasso, Puccini and Stravinsky. It also has an art gallery.
We especially liked the Deluxe Suite, which sleeps three. There’s a king-sized bed, a separate living room with sleeper sofa, dining area and two walk-in closets. The Deluxe can be connected to the Superior Suite, transforming it into a Roman family apartment. The Margutta Suite is the largest—it’s a combination of the Junior Suite and the Studio Suite, each of which can be booked separately. Together, they offer a full two-bedroom apartment with two workspaces and two royal bathrooms.
For the young and hip, Mario de’ Fiori, a villa built in 1658, is the obvious choice. Think Amsterdam canal house meets Italian contemporary architecture; it takes unusual spaces and turns them into high comfort zones. White, eggplant and lime blend to make the compact rooms appear more spacious—in another setting these rooms may seem small, but here they are very well-appointed nests. This narrow street, close to the Spanish Steps, has some fabulous boutiques where shoppers can find unique pieces that will add chicness to their wardrobes. One would never know that many, many years ago, this was the street of the brothels.
The rooftop suite, No. 325, is a cozy retreat with king bed, sitting area and a big bathroom consisting of tub, shower and private loo. A clever use of natural woods, metals and paint colors has achieved a contemporary city feel. Tip: The original beamed ceilings may be a tad too low for a pro basketball player, so steer your taller guests to another room. The Junior Suite No. 310, although smaller than No. 325, is expansive and modern, with wood, copper and travertine accents. There’s a separate tub, a glass shower and canopy bed. (Note: Moncada has a close relationship with the owners of Frette and their world-renowned bed linens grace all three locations.) We also loved the sliding bathroom doors, which have a white-linen layer between two sheets of glass. The Double Deluxe (No. 210) and a Studio Deluxe (No. 265), we discovered, make smart use of space and design.