After unpacking, we headed to the Palm Court for a coffee and to plan our day. This urban sanctuary surrounded by ancient stonewalls, flowers, and ivy is set in the heart of the hotel and borders the Borghese gardens. Here, you will find the perfect place to relax any time of day and enjoy light salads, sandwiches, ice creams, cocktails, romantic dinners, and late-night drinks (accompanied by live piano music from 7 P.M. on).
While perusing our guide- book, we discovered the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj (via del Corso 305, Tel: +39-06-679-7323. www.doriapamphilj.it), which is about a 15-minute walk from the hotel. Unknown to most tourists, this is a hidden gem in the center of the city. Considered to be the largest private palazzo in Rome, it is home to the Doria Pamphilj Gallery and hundreds of works of art and cultural treasures. The magnificent collection includes paintings by Caravaggio, Bruegel, Velázquez, Tiziano, and Raffaello. As you move from one stunning room to another, it is hard to believe that all of this belongs to just one family. We spent a couple of hours here, but it would take weeks to truly appreciate all that they have to offer. Make sure to visit the Gallery of Mirrors, which is the most opulent room in the palace. It was designed around 1730 by Gabriele Valvassori and features frescoes depicting the Labors of Hercules, a creation of Bolognese Painter Aureliano Miani. The Doria Pamphilj Gallery is truly a national treasure that every visitor to Rome should put of their must-see list.
Overwhelmed and overjoyed by what we had just seen, we headed back to the Hassler for afternoon tea in the Salone Eva. One of the most elegant dining options in Rome, this is a wonderful place for an exceptional dinner, a lunch with business colleagues, or a relaxing traditional afternoon tea. Our three-tiered tea tray included a selection of home-made finger sandwiches (cucumber with cream cheese, chicken with wholegrain mustard, and smoked salmon), as well as warm raisin and plain scones, and rare teas from around the world. Afterward, we decided to linger a bit longer and plot our adventures for the next day over a glass of Ruinart Rosè.
We were looking forward to discovering more of Rome’s hidden treasures the following day, but the intense summer heat meant that we would have to go out early in the day or after sunset. That morning we took a self-guided walking tour of the neighborhood near the hotel, did a little shopping for gifts for family and friends, and decided to spend the rest of the day enjoying all that the Hassler has to offer.
After breakfast, we met with Paola Polidori, the director of sales and marketing for the Hassler, who told us about the fascinating history of the hotel as she took us up to see one of their penthouse suites.
We learned that during the Fascist period, Mussolini decided that the name “Hassler” did not sound Italian enough, so he changed it to “Villa Medici.” Around this time the hotel was also completely renovated, but just as the work was finishing it became the Headquarters of the American Command until the end of World War II. In 1947, the Hassler reopened to travelers from all around the world and its world-famous Rooftop Restaurant (now called Imàgo), became the first panoramic restaurant ever built in Rome.
A more recent renovation is evident in the spectacular Penthouse Villa Medici Suite, located on the seventh floor. It features a completely new modern style with some classical accents. Upon entering the suite there is a spacious living room with an elegant beige sofa, a plasma TV, and large windows looking out over the city. The adjacent dining area, separated by two classical columns, features a large black oval table with an ornate white base and four black chairs with horse-hair upholstery. A sliding door separates the dining area from the master bedroom, which features a large plasma TV, a writing desk, and a very large walk-in closet. The master bath- room is covered in Botticino marble and comes with a Jacuzzi and a shower big enough for six people. Our favorite part of the suite, however, was the private 525-square-foot terrace that offers a unique place to relax and savour the views of the city while enjoying a room-service breakfast, an evening cocktail, or a romantic dinner.
With the temperature approaching 100 degrees outside we decided to head for the fitness and wellness center on the third floor. The gym offers free weights, TRX, nine Technogym machines, and a personal trainer on request.
The Amorvero SPA has a lovely terrace where one can read, enjoy a refreshing drink, or lounge in the sun. After hitting the sauna or steam room, take time to pamper yourself with one of their wide range of massages and beauty treatments. Spa treatments include the Pro-Collagen Quartz Anti-Aging Lift, an innovative treatment to reduce lines and wrinkles and obtain visibly lifted and radiant skin even after only one session; and the Oxigen Skin-calm Rebalancing, using a combination of anti-inflammatory ingredients to bring immediate relief to delicate, fragile, and sensitive skin. Combine your facial with an exfoliator massage that revitalizes your body with the use of lime and ginger, and you’ll be ready to face Rome’s exciting nightlife.
To truly make the most of your stay at the Hassler reserve a table for dinner at Imàgo (www.imagorestaurant.com), the hotel’s sixth-floor panoramic, Michelin-starred restaurant with its unique view over the city. As soon as you enter, you are dazzled by the breathtaking sight of the city. Soft music, elegant marble floors with an antique-wooden inlay, and the romantic play of light reflecting on the mirrored tables, all conspire to create a magical atmosphere.
While perusing the menu and admiring the panorama of Rome all around us, Roberto E. Wirth, president and managing director of the Hassler Roma came by to introduce himself. His charm and warmth made us feel like we were dining at the home of a good friend. He wanted to know if we were enjoying our time in Rome, and as he asked us to let him know if there was anything we needed he smiled and said “Buon appetito!”
We started our dinner with a glass of Louis Roederer Brut Rosè, followed by an assortment of appetizers, entrées, and desserts paired with select wines. Their Parmigiani-style scallops with an infusion of friggitelli peppers will have your taste buds asking for more (available on their tasting menu and à la carte). We followed this with a pasta course of rigatoni with pesto, bacon, and Pecorino cheese. For your main course, they offer a nice selection of fish, meat, and vegetarian dishes. I was in heaven as I devoured the lemongrass flavored turbot with peas and ciauscolo ham spread, while my partner raved about the perfectly prepared flank steak with mustard seeds, nashi pear, and broadbeans.
We had very little room left for dessert, but we couldn’t resist the pumpkin and almond Caprese with cardamom and orange compote.
After dinner we decided to talk a walk to the Trevi Fountain. The sounds of laugher and friends speaking a variety of languages filled the streets. The excitement of Rome and the joy expressed by the people who live here had us already planning our next visit.
So as so many people have done before, we threw three coins in the fountain…