Luxury Hotels

ROME -10

Honestly there’s nothing to compare with being welcomed by a Roman emperor. Augustus Caesar is permanently on hand at the main entrance of Bulgari Roma – Girlahead reminded herself that the founder of the Roman Empire, also known as Octavian, ruled as the first Roman emperor from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. When she arrived for lunch, hotel boss Vincenzo Falcone, above, was also on hand. And then came his powerhouse of a colleague, Elena Bruno, so the gathering was quite a terrific triumvirate.

Mind you never expect Bulgari to be boring or even plain old luxury. First, the hotels are sometimes Bvlgari. Next they re-position old to today’s wow. Milan, now 20 years old, is a convent conversion with a sexy lowest-level pool. London’s pool, also basement, is a haven of gold. Paris was going to have a rooftop pool but it metamorphosed to a garden for the presidential suite.

And now comes Rome. The Bulgari folks waited for years for a Rome spot and they settled on a disused social security office, early 1930s in Mussolini magnitude. Sock-it-to-you perpendicular concrete edifice encasing soaring ceilings. For the first time Bulgari’s favourite designers, Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel, have gone light and bright. And there’s colour. The soft persimmon that lines Bulgari showcases in duty-free stores similarly lines jewelry-displaying vitrines along otherwise unadorned stone corridor walls, above bold mustard carpeting. And the 110 bedrooms, which include 47 suites, have darker persimmon bedhead walls.

Another big change in Rome is a ground-floor, inside-out café, a set design of black and white tiled flooring, two-metre palms in pots and female servers in daffodil brocade jackets. It’s full at 12.30 – still breakfast, ALC only, for some, say  semi-veiled Middle Eastern guests. At a nearby table a local lady discreetly breastfeeds. At most tables obviously-Italian businessmen sashay in, looking first left and then right and kissing or hugging a noticeable number of known other customers. Nico Romito, Brand Bulgari’s food supremo, walks by, smiling, and is thrilled to have his photo taken, below.

Vincenzo Falcone, who arrived 18 months before the June 2023 opening, explains how important this hotel is – it’s a stone throw from Bulgari headquarters. This is ‘their’ canteen.  After burrata and magnificent baby tomatoes, and roast octopus on a smidgen of mash, Girlahead retreats to the nearby library (what a joy, a serious temptation for culturalists). It’s zoom time, and when that is finished, the car, baggage already in, awaits. The logistics are clockwork with style. And the car’s a Maserati. This hotel oozes luxury, authentic and from start to finish.