Senior editor Felicity Long visited the Hotel Hassler in Rome.
Her report follows:
ROME -- Clients swayed by first impressions will probably find
the swank Hotel Hassler to their liking. What's not to like?
Situated at the top of Rome's famous Spanish Steps, the hotel
boasts what could be the best location in Rome, picture-postcard
views and elegant rooms filled with original antiques and art.
During a recent
visit, we arrived in the late afternoon after a dizzying 10-hour
tour of the Eternal City.
It was with relief, after such a day, to wind our way via taxi
up the narrow Via Sistina toward the serenity of the hotel.
The air of calm that the Hassler exudes is surprising
considering that it is in such a popular spot.
For those unfamiliar with the city, the Spanish Steps comprise a
steep staircase connecting the Piazza di Spagna to the Trinita dei
Monti church high above.
Throngs of tourists and locals sit on the steps or at the
fountain in the square, especially on sunny days, or climb to the
top to catch the view of the city below.
The Hassler sits directly adjacent to the church, which
overlooks the crowded scene.
The streets leading to the property are small and winding and
boast pricey boutiques and antique shops.
Once inside, the five-star hotel presents an Old World charm
replete with uniformed doormen, gilt mirrors, gleaming wood and
sepia paintings and maps on the walls.
Actually, the doormen turned out to be a blessing as we
discovered later while trying to hail a taxi.
There are simply not enough taxis to go around in Rome, and we
found the hotel staff fearless and aggressive in their efforts to
snare one for us. At one point, we had four staff members in the
narrow street in front of the hotel, one on a cell phone angrily
calling the cab company, one on a moped preparing to speed down the
hill to find a taxi at a stand below and two in the street waving
and blowing whistles with abandon.
Needless to say, they were successful, leaving other hopefuls in
the dust with their expertise.
The service inside is equally attentive, with cleaning staff all
but curtsying when guests pass them as they furiously polish brass
fixtures in the halls.
Our room was pretty fancy, offering a view of the city that
included St. Peter's famous dome, which is lighted at night in the
We had two bathrooms, a sitting room and hand-painted murals
depicting scenes from the Tuscan countryside.
In all, there are 85 rooms, 23 deluxe suites and two
The public rooms include a tea room; five elegant conference
rooms; the Hassler Bar, which is used in the winter, and the
beautiful Palm Court garden, offering open-air bar service in the
The garden is notable for ancient artifacts that were uncovered
over the years during ongoing renovations and that decorate the
walls of the courtyard.
From the garden, I also heard the voices of small children
coming from the windows of the Sacred Heart school next door.
Not surprisingly, the property attracts celebrities, drawn by
the location, privacy and attentive service.
During our visit, I managed to bump into Giorgio Armani and
Caroline Kennedy in the lobby, both of whom failed to recognize
The hotel's president and general manager, Roberto Wirth, has a
scrapbook of dozens of movie stars and political figures who have
posed with him during his 20 years at the helm.
Of course, all this luxury comes with a price.
Rooms start at about $386 for a standard double room and go up
to about $572 for an ultra-deluxe double.
Although expensive, deals are available, particularly for
special occasions, according to manager of public relations Sabina
Honeymoon packages are a specialty, Galdiolo said, and the hotel
also will assist with wedding arrangements.
"We cannot handle the paperwork for the wedding, but we can
arrange a specific church, hairdressers, flowers and
In addition to set packages, the property also can create
customized stays for a variety of special interests.
"We are a private property rather than a chain, and therefore we
are flexible," Galdiolo said.
"People ask us to arrange special tours or entrance to exhibits,
and we do," she said, adding that private drivers are
No discussion of the Hassler would be complete without a word
about the Rooftop Restaurant, where we ate breakfast and where
guests also can eat lunch and dinner as well as Sunday brunch.