“The Eternal City is back and successfully practicing dolce vita again! Grazie Mille!“ Kai Böcking
After the long Corona no travel weeks, the pizzeria on my corner has to cut back. After my first business appointment in Rome, I want to experience the real Italy again with real spaghetti carbonara – and actually stay there almost alone among the Romans. What an experience for frequent business travellers!
The “Eternal City” announced its comeback on June 3, 2020, and I fly there from Munich via Frankfurt just two days later. Getting a flight was no problem. Even if I do spare all business travellers any details about flying with Lufthansa in these days. Too cruel! More problematic in the organization of it, however, was finding an open hotel. All attempts to book with the top dogs failed. “No – or not open yet,” they said. “We want to start up again slowly.” At times I was put off until autumn. The Eternal City is open and no one is supposed to go?
Fortunately, there are hotels like the St. Regis Rome, which has always shown an amazing steadfastness in times of crisis – since 1894, when the hotel first opened its five-star doors, and hasn’t been closed for a single day since then. Not during the two world wars, many renovations and certainly not during the Corona crisis.
“We have always been there, and we will always be there,” explains the smart Director of Sales Marketing Claudio Cadeddu, with obvious pride, even if the hotel near Piazza della Repubblica has of course had to give up feathers in the last few lockdown months. The Romans were banished to inactivity for weeks, much, much more strictly than in Germany, for example. The Marriott Hotel saved itself over time with many diplomatic guests and the few business travellers who wanted to do without limited service but not without the magnificent house. By the end of June, the St. Regis will be fully open again, then also with the new Lumen Garden attraction: the bar and restaurant in the quiet, densely overgrown inner courtyard.
Two art of exhibitions
When I arrive, the Bell Boy is still keeping his distance, and careful with the luggage. The reception is sparsely staffed, bars and restaurants are closed but the lobby, restored in 2018, still makes a “Bella Figura”. Bright, classic, stunningly high and with airy ceilings, the oldest ballroom in the city with ceilings, frescos – and with current exhibitions of two international artists in the hotel: the Chinese art duo Sun Yuan & Peng Ju and the Cuban José Yaque. Other hotels with big names in Rome don’t even answer the phone these days!
The rooms are also surprisingly large for the city. Bright colours (in my case the light blue version), brand new bathrooms and art at the end of the bed. Breakfast – with hot cappuccino – is served in 20 minutes at or in bed.
Alone in Rome
But the house has long since understood how to lay the whole city at the feet of the “returning travellers” with a surefire passion. As Bleisure at its best and a 2.0 version of a Grand Hotel service, I think.
For this I am entrusted to Alessio, a travel guide from Rome through Rome with several languages in his locker. For months he was unable to guide guests through the Vatican, Colosseum and Co. past the queues of package tourists. Now he leads me on foot through his city, which is almost free of tourists.
We do not see any colourful Asian group flags, no queues at the many hot spots, no souvenir sellers with folding wooden plates and guaranteed real handbags. Instead, we see a lonely Petersplatz and an even more lonely Fontana di Trevi. We stroll through Rome, drink coffee and enjoy an empty city, in which there is no Babylonian babble of languages except Italian, joyful words. Wonderful!
Away from the larger, farther, more luxurious
The Trip with Alessio is one of the new experience packages that the St. Regis is now offering its guests under the slogans “Slow Travel”, “R(h)OME” and “Italian Genius” – as timeless journeys through private places, palaces and art sites. “We want to get away from the ever larger, farther, more luxurious. We want to show our guests the real culinary, traditional and cultural Rome”, says Claudio Cadeddu. And that’s why the two-hour tour with Insider Alessio about Roman history, intrigues and insider tips ends in a traditional Roman restaurant. Alessio says “Ciao” here. The team of the “Pierluigi” on the Piazza de Ricci takes over. Your lunch or dinner is part of the Slow Travel package, which is also the restaurant cooperation partner of the St. Regis, especially when the restaurant is still closed. And so it’s time to take off your mask, enjoy fresh fish with good, cold wine and let the sun shine. Yes, La Dolce Vita is back.
In general: the people of Rome seem to be finding their way back amazingly quickly – into a relaxed approach to the restrictions that the crisis has also triggered here. The street cafés are, with a little space between the tables, well filled again. Many shops, bars and restaurants are carefully reopening.
Rome these days is a dream. Slowly, relaxed, with clear air and in everything incredibly courteous and attentive. One could almost think that they like us, the Italians.
Oh yes, the carbonara! You can get it originally at the “Rosso Eat Drink Stay” in Viale Aventino, not far from the Colosseum. Crispy bacon, finest pasta, fresh cheese and a fresh egg yolk, which the boss personally adds to the classic as a finish. It is nice, Rome, the so Nice Rome, that you are back. We missed you.
Kai Böcking …
has never experienced Rome like this before and is still completely fascinated! Something similar must be the experience these days in Venice, Paris or Barcelona. For frequent travellers, unique experiences and journeys can be had in this special time, without having to feel insecure.
At a glance
Getting there: Rome is approached by various airlines and can also be reached by train from various cities in Europe. The hotel is centrally located near the Piazza della Repubblica and the Quirinal Palace.
Hotel: César Ritz inaugurated the Grandhotel in 1894. At the end of 2018 the St. Regis Rome was completely restored by the interior design studio Pierre-Yves Rochon. The 138 rooms and 23 suites form a mix of Empire, Regency and Louis XV style. The lobby with its 5-meter-high chandelier merges into the historic courtyard and conservatory. Other highlights of the Grand Hotel include the Ritz Ballroom, Rome’s first public ballroom, the library and, since 2020, the Galleria Continua. From June 2020, the Lumen, Cocktails & Cuisine restaurant will also present itself anew in the densely overgrown inner courtyard.
Address: The St. Regis Rome, Via Vittorio E, Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, 3, 00185 Roma RM, Italy, +39 06 47091
Photos: © Böcking, The St. Regis Rome/Hamel (1. photo), The St. Regis Rome/Eric Laignel (3. u. 4. photo)