From its debut in 1963 as Europe’s first Hilton (it’s now part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection), the Rome Cavalieri has brandished a certain label of distinction -- one of an old-world sophistication. Far from the tourists and the tangled lanes of the historic center, the boxy and functional structure may at first seem out of place in a millennium-old metropolis, but its period furniture, marble busts and bronze columns are reminders of grand eras past. We checked in to see if the property’s reputation has withstood the test of time -- and upheld its standards in accordance to long-standing traditions.
It’s a two-month wait for a table at the three-Michelin-star La Pergola Restaurant & Bar, which boasts upscale refinery, from frescoed ceilings and cherry wood tables to gold-plated silverware and French tapestries -- not to mention the lauded cuisine of Chef Heinz Beck. Try the rabbit tortellini with an essence of peas and broad beans or the caviar-stuffed red mullet with artichoke puree.
Peaceful green spaces are a rarity in a cosmopolitan center -- and the rolling acres at Rome Cavalieri, with undulating paths shaded by palm and pine trees, transport travelers deep into the countryside. The property also has a stunning collection of art, including a grand-scale Tiepolo triptych, Andy Warhol’s “Dollar Signs,” and a Baroque bronze commode.
The 345 rooms adopt the ambiance of Mediterranean-style villas, swathed in regal blues and yellows, and equipped with plush chairs, pillow menus, and mirrored bathrooms with travertine tubs, his- and her- vanities, and Salvatore Ferragamo amenities. Sitting rooms open up onto a balcony, where you can soak in bird's-eye views of Rome, or the surrounding gardens. There’s also an exclusive Imperial wing, with a wood-paneled lounge serving breakfast, afternoon tea and cocktails, and an over-the-top penthouse suite with a private rooftop, solarium, and whirlpool.
If you can’t score a reservation at the jackets-required La Pergola, the Cavalieri’s garden and poolside restaurants offer excellent, more casual cuisine in alfresco settings. The Sunday brunch is particularly popular among Romans for a boundless spread of Italian and international specialties: baked ricotta cheese and braided mozzarella; sushi and seafood salads; fresh-squeezed kiwi and grapefruit juices; mimosa cakes and baba rhums.
Just about everyone has a place at the Rome Cavalieri, which caters to both leisure and business travelers. Big groups can congregate in conference rooms and banquet spaces. Brides and grooms can book elaborate wedding packages (think: jewelry lending from royal collections, horse-drawn carriages, and handwritten invitations). Parents can drop children off at the complimentary kids club, a dedicated space for ages 4 to 12. Even pooches can get some much-deserved attention (doggie menus, pet-sitting services) that certainly beats a night in a kennel.
The Rome Cavalieri isn’t just a stone’s throw away from central Rome -- though it’s accessible by a shuttle service that runs every hour until 8:30 p.m. (exceptions: Sundays and holidays). Travelers who want to be in smack in pulse of the Eternal City may want to book a room elsewhere.
You won’t find a souvenir stand in sight in the neighborhood of Monte Mario. This is where the Romans reside -- and also where they dine. Low-key, family-operated restaurants run off a main street that’s a 10-minute walk from the property. Here you can find authentic -- not pretentious -- fresh food priced for the locals.