I have medium-fond memories of Rome. When I visited with friends back in college, we stayed at a crappy hostel and ate mostly ham sandwiches, thanks to our student budget. I remembered thinking: I’ll have to do this right if I ever return. Twelve years later, I’m confident I did.
Last week, I checked into the brand-new Gran Melia Rome Villa Agrippina. It’s removed quietly from the city’s bustle, built directly on the birthplace of the ancient ruler Nero, the last emperor of Rome, where his mother Agrippina lived. The columns of the entrance are encased in glass as they originally date back approximately 1,500 years, so this is the real deal when hotels brag about history blending with modern. Furthermore, the hotel is literally steps from Vatican City, the only hotel of this calibre at such proximity.
Gran Melia Rome is the only urban luxury resort with an outdoor pool, separate whirlpool, sun beds, private cabanas and meticulously landscaped gardens with tall cypress and pino trees, all sprawling 100,000 square feet. The location is also ideal: it’s right in the heart of the the charming Trastervere neighborhood, far from the bustling tourist center and a true Roman neighborhood that is virtually mass tourist free (check out the neighborhood at night where locals flood the streets with booze).
There are 116 rooms and suites, several equipped with their own private terrace and jacuzzi. If you’ve stayed at a hotel in Rome, you know this is crazy rare. Just ask Madonna’s dance crew, who stayed there during her Rome tour (Madonna, sadly, stayed in a private villa). I never got to meet the gang as I was on my private terrace. In my jacuzzi. Thinking about walking to the Vatican. On the flipside, I think they were doing the exact same thing.