One of my more favorite Rome hotels to review this summer for the Telegraph: Gran Melia Villa Agrippina, hidden below the Gianicolo hill between Trastevere and the Borgo neighborhood. To me this hotel has it all-- beauty, style, location, peacefulness, excellent white glove service and a gorgeous pool. Here's my breakdown:
Expert Rating: 9/10
Gran Melia Villa Agrippina is the undeniable envy of Rome’s historic centre hotels for its unique atmosphere as a chic and sprawling urban villa, complete with panoramic cityscapes, verdant gardens and outdoor pool. Though the 116-room hotel is fairly new to block, Gran Melia comes with millennia of history — the former convent is built on the site of the suburban home of Emperor Nero’s mother, and designed as the ultimate city resort with bespoke services, pampering spa and a very attentive concierge.
Location : 8/10
Holed up on the grassy knoll between Rome’s Trastevere and Vatican neighbourhoods, the Gran Melia Villa Agrippina is in the happy medium of calm and chaos. In other words, its location on the quiet Janiculum Hill is just close enough to walk to the Vatican, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and Ara Pacis, and just a step out of the way from the urban grind. For other monuments and sites, such as the Roman Forum, Esquiline, Villa Borghese and Termini Train Station, transport is required.
The Gran Melia Villa Agrippina aesthetic can best be described as Miami-meets-Renaissance-Rome. Rooms, reception and lounge areas are the harmonious balance of vintage Italian and Spanish design with contemporary flair. Overall, the feeling of the hotel is light and airy, thanks to the large windows, glass paneling and white colour that dominates all areas, which are accented elegant modern Murano chandeliers and contemporary art pieces.
Relaxation is the overall goal of Villa Agrippina. The jewel of the hotel is its outdoor pool, beautifully-landscaped greenery that vies for Rome’s best urban oasis. The onsite YHI spa is a full-service pampering wellness zone all about rejuvenation, beauty and health through a well-thought menu of treatments and facials. Spa rooms include a vitality pool, sensorial showers and saunas, and personal trainers are available for health and fitness guidance. The breakfast buffet is a veritable cornucopia of Anglo and Italian delicacies from sweet to savory, and an enviable children’s section with cupcakes and other treats. The hotel also offers shuttle service for free downtown transport. Gran Melia exclusive suite guests enjoy private check-in, designated pool cabanas, and an exclusive lounge area.
Light seems to be the main decoration of all of the Villa Agrippina’s 116 rooms and deluxe suites. Each of the 12 room categories are combinations of luminosity and soft hues with large windows, light wood, stone floors (heated in the bathrooms) and contemporary decoration with a nod to the past through large-scale interpretations of Renaissance and Baroque paintings. Spanning eight levels, most rooms have a view but if you have to choose, ask for a cityscape room facing Vatican City or Castel Sant’Angelo. My favourite room is the Eternal City Majestic Suite, primarily for its large terrace, which has a sweeping view of the city, and is a great place to watch the sun set behind St. Peter’s Dome. Traveling with an entourage? Villa Agrippina’s top floor hosts the Family Kids & Co duplex suites, ensuring privacy for both parents and children.
Food & drink:
One of Rome’s best secrets is VivaVoce, Villa Agrippina’s signature restaurant, under the guidance Michelin-starred chef Alfonso Iaccarino (of Amalfi Coast’s Don Alfonso) and executive chef Claudio Favero. Iaccarino, know for jettisoning “Mediterranean cuisine” to hallowed ground, curates a menu of Italian cuisine, both traditional and nouvelle. The ground-floor restaurant is simple, stylish and contemporary. On rainy days, the martini and champagne bar in the library is an excellent spot for a break, and the poolside Liquid Garden is an ideal place to unwind.
Value for money: 9/10
Classic double rooms from £210 in low season; rising to £260 in high. Breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi.
Access for guests with disabilities?
Children are greeted by concierge staff with VIK (Very Important Kids) status, which includes welcome gift, bedtime milk and cookies turndown, mini-club access, and Kids Corner breakfast buffet, as well a selection of bespoke tours.