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Travel Review: You could spend your entire holiday in Rome’s Hotel Eden, but you’d miss out on one of the world’s greatest cities

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A spectacular sunset over the Eternal City

A spectacular sunset over the Eternal City

Getty Images

The Trevi Fountain

The Trevi Fountain

The Colosseum at night

The Colosseum at night

Getty Images

La Terrazza at Hotel Eden

La Terrazza at Hotel Eden

The view of St Peter's Basilica from Hotel Eden

The view of St Peter's Basilica from Hotel Eden

Il Giardino Ristorante's terrace

Il Giardino Ristorante's terrace

The Eden Spa double suite

The Eden Spa double suite

The grand lobby at Hotel Eden

The grand lobby at Hotel Eden

The entrance to Hotel Eden's 'secret' La Liberia bar

The entrance to Hotel Eden's 'secret' La Liberia bar

A prestige suite at the hotel

A prestige suite at the hotel

Hotel Eden from the outside

Hotel Eden from the outside

A Hotel Eden bathroom

A Hotel Eden bathroom

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A spectacular sunset over the Eternal City

Opulence and decadence were hallmarks of the Roman Empire, and today Rome’s five-star hotels still offer a taste of that grandeur.

Hotel Eden, which is situated on the Pincian Hill where Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar had their villas, has centuries of history behind it and nods to ancient Rome everywhere.

An oasis of calm in the city centre, Eden’s location couldn’t be any more perfect. Hidden away from the main streets, it is still only a short walk to many of the main attractions, such as the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps.

Now part of the Dorchester Collection, the stylish and elegant boutique hotel has hosted royalty and celebrities since it opened in 1889. Just last year, Lady Gaga stayed there while filming House of Gucci. But from my experience, all guests are treated like VIPs.

From being welcomed through the front doors by the doormen to the checking-in process, it is clear that the hotel has worked hard on ensuring superb service.

The rooms, most of which have beautiful views, are simply stunning, featuring chic decor, high ceilings, rich mahogany furniture and golden floor-to-ceiling drapes. You will also find an iPad that gives you control over almost everything inside the room.

Large bathrooms feature mosaic tiling, white marble, gold trim and Bottega Veneta products.

After an 6.25am flight from Dublin to Rome, I was delighted to check into my room early and take a nap cocooned in the luscious bed, which just oozed comfort with luxury linen sheets and fluffy pillows.

The hotel is a wonder to walk around because you can admire not only the views from the property, but the artwork with nods to Rome’s architectural history and a carefully curated book collection. Thanks to their artist in residence, Andrea Ferolla, you’ll also spot Eden’s exclusive artworks and unique illustrated lampshades.

Also, go on a hunt to find what has been described as “Rome’s best-kept secret” — La Libreria’s Secret Bar, which is hidden behind mirrored doors.

If, like me, you are a foodie, you’ll be glad to hear Hotel Eden offers some of the best dining in Rome, as well as excellent cocktails. You can eat at the rooftop, Michelin-starred La Terrazza or the more casual Il Giardino restaurant, which offers a magnificent view of the city thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows.

On this occasion, I didn’t dine in La Terrazza, but its culinary experience looks amazing. If the food is as good as Il Giardino, where we ate, it definitely won’t disappoint.

Il Giardino, which serves a brilliant buffet and freshly prepared breakfast, offers a range of classic Italian dishes, including pasta and pizza.

Highlights of our dinner included beautiful courgette blossoms stuffed with ricotta, taleggio, black olives and cherry tomatoes, spaghetti ‘cacio e pepe’ with pecorino, black pepper and turmeric, and guinea fowl breast, black truffle and cauliflower with potatoes and almond. The way the flavours on each plate complemented each other made these some of the best Italian dishes I have ever tasted.

Likewise for the desserts — a classic Italian tiramisu and a very moreish dark chocolate and pear sponge.

The hotel has launched an Alpine pop-up on the terrace of Il Giardino, in partnership with Veuve Clicquot, where guests can enjoy a high-altitude gourmet experience that brings the spirit of the Alps direct from Reims to the heart of Rome.

When you can drag yourself away from the hotel, the Spanish Steps are just an eight-minute walk away. It’s about 10 minutes to Trevi Fountain, 15 to the Pantheon and 30 to the Colosseum. We walked to all, bar the Colosseum, instead jumping on a bus which stopped directly outside.

If you are a first-time visitor to Rome and/or a fan of the Russell Crowe blockbuster Gladiator, the Colosseum, probably the most impressive city ruins, is a must. When you step inside, you can easily picture the cheering, bloodthirsty crowds in this Flavian amphitheatre back in 80AD, when it first opened. The biggest amphitheatre in the world, it once hosted more than 50,000 spectators, all of them watching sporting events and gladiatorial combat.

It is said that if you toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain, which dates back to 1762, you will always return to Rome, so if you fall in love with this city, as I did, you will want to do just that. As much as €3,000 can be thrown into it every day. There are regular attempts to steal coins from the fountain, which is said to be the world’s most popular place for marriage proposals.

A short distance away, you will find the Pantheon, a Roman temple which became a church in the seventh century and is one of the best-preserved buildings in the city.

Free to enter, it was built nearly 2,000 years ago by Emperor Hadrian to honour Roman gods.

It also contains the tombs of Raphael and former Italian Kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto II.

If you are on Instagram, you will immediately recognise the Spanish Steps, which were actually built by the French in 1725 but called ‘Spanish’ because they are on Piazza di Spagna, close to the Spanish Embassy.

The 138 steps are a well-known meeting place in the city and a popular spot for social media pictures, especially the beautiful view of the sunset that can be seen from the top of the steps, outside the church door.

Further afield from the city centre is Vatican City, a country within Rome. Take a taxi or the Metro to get there. Make sure to tour the Vatican museums, the Sistine Chapel, where you can see the beauty of Michelangelo’s ceiling, and St Peter’s Basilica. The Basilica, a magnificent building inside and out, is where Saint Peter is said to be buried, and it also contains the tombs of Pope John Paul II and other pontiffs. The Basilica is free, but you have to pay a fee if you want to climb the 551 steps to the dome for a 360-degree view of Rome.

One of the best things to do is explore by foot as you will discover lots of fascinating things in your journey, such as Roman fountains, statues and lovely little coffee shops, bars and restaurants offering some of the best pizza.

After tiring your feet navigating the ancient cobbled streets, retreat to the state-of-the-art Eden Spa for some much-needed pampering.

Since I did throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, surely now I have to plan my return to one of the most fantastic cities in the world.

*Hotel Eden, Via Ludovisi 4900187, Rome. Tel: +39 06 478121. Email reservations.HER@dorchestercollection.com.

 Room rates from €640. Check out www.dorchestercollection.com/en/rome/hotel-eden.


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