skip to main content


In Rome, a city known for its expensive and cramped accommodations, Babuino 181 is a welcome addition. This 14-room boutique hotel, set in a 19th-century building recently renovated by the architecture firm Studio Magnaghi, opened in April. It is the newest addition to Rome Luxury Suites, a hotel group owned by Alberto Moncada di Paternò, who transforms historical residences by incorporating contemporary art and design.


The hotel is on the Via del Babuino, in Rome’s historic center. A short stroll leads to the Piazza del Popolo, the Via Margutta and the Spanish Steps. The area is also Rome’s shopping mecca, packed with designer boutiques, antiques shops, art galleries and smart cafes. Though it is bustling during business hours, the Via del Babuino is quiet in the evening.


My room (No. 204), a double superior measuring a comfortable 280 square feet, was decorated in an Italian contemporary style with muted grays and beiges. There was a king bed, a sitting area with a loveseat and a walk-in closet just begging to be filled with designer purchases. Additional touches included a wall-mounted flat-screen television, a Nespresso machine, a Sony Dream Machine iPod speaker dock and Frette linens and bathrobe. The room’s main drawback was its lighting: lamps and track lighting accounted for a total of 15 bulbs, which required patience and practice to manage from the numerous switches and wall panels.


The spacious yellow marble-clad bathroom consisted of a wide marble vanity flanked by a standing shower on one side and a deep tub on the other. The toilet and bidet were in a separate room behind a sliding door. The shower caused a minor flood because of the glass door’s poor seal, but there were plenty of Frette towels to soak it up.


Babuino 181 does not have a lobby, but there is a sitting room on the second floor, with a Nespresso machine and reading materials, and a concierge is on duty 24 hours a day at the front desk. There is no on-site restaurant, but a rooftop bar is in the works, and plenty of places to eat are within walking distance. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.


Room service is available only for breakfast, which is, in fact, served only in-room. Options include a dietetic meal (18 euros, or $22.50 at $1.24 to the euro), continental breakfast (20 euros) and children’s meal (15 euros). I ordered a 7:30 a.m. continental breakfast, citing an early departure, and it arrived at 7:39 a.m. The crostata, croissant, jam, Nutella and toast didn’t live up to their price or potential. I would have been better off heading to Canova in the Piazza del Popolo for a higher-quality, considerably cheaper breakfast.


Spacious rooms and modern elegance merge at this boutique hotel conveniently located in Rome’s shopping epicenter. Rates are competitive with suites in nearby hotels, and its value more than makes up for its flaws.

Babuino 181, Via del Babuino 181, Rome; (39-06) 3229-5295; Rooms start at 240 euros (about $300), without breakfast.