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The Best Hotel in Rome: The Luxury Suite

Luxury Suite [lʌkʃəri/swiːt]:  elegant rooms, exclusive experiences, expensive

A while back, I noticed luxury was all up in my face.  Literally on every corner and in every part of the city, I kept finding tiny, shiny plaques stuck to the side of palazzi lintels with the words "luxury suites" engraved in sweeping script across polished bronze or steel. In all of my experience sleeping around Rome, I've definitely rumpled the sheets in a luxury suite or two, but were there really this many?  Either the gods were telling me something or Rome, a city beleaguered with economic issues, was just overflowing luxury.

It's not.

The rise of self-deigned luxury suites in Rome is just the latest in an ersatz authenticity trend that includes artisanal gelaterie, rustic paninoteche, haute design restaurants and vintage bars with master mixologists.  And I'm tired of it.   I'd like prefer the less is more theory to quality.  But if luxury suite is the new accomodation genre, I'm happy to review and always ask my favorite question: "What makes this luxury?"  

The answer has to be all or nothing.  If I can't see it, feel it and most of all experience it, it probably isn't luxury. The Luxury Suite better be more than great decor- whether classic or contemporary, gorgeous coffee table books, an eat-in, Instagrammable kitchen with the latest Nepresso and a fabulous terrace in the best location in all of Rome.  It has to feel like a home, but not jut any home and -  here's the reach - it is a lifestyle . . . with a price tag.  If you are truly looking for a luxury stay in Rome that feels like the home of your has-no-limits wealthy aunt, there are only a few places that make it into my little black book . . .

Round 2: Luxury Suites

It should come as no surprise that two of Rome's best luxury suites are owned by fashion houses, with decades of handcrafted quality and culture.   The Lungarno Collection, owned by Ferragamo, has only one outpost in Rome -  Portrait Roma - which  also happens to be my Numero Uno.  Aside from the center-of-it-all location on via dei Condotti,  incredible hand-tailored design [contemporary design, muted tones, hand-made pieces] in each of its 14 rooms , and a gorgeous rooftop, Portrait Roma packs a double punch for hospitality.  Two 24/7 teams, Lifestyle and Guest Assistance, research and review you and your every need with the same thoroughness as the Stanford Binet test, and preparedness as a PhD candidate.  In a nutshell, they do their work making sure you have the absolute experience you want for Rome culture - whether art historical, fashion or pop, like that damn cool Pokemon tour they invented.  I keep trying to baffle them with something out of reach, so far, no dice primarily because the Lifestyle team is constantly out and about in Rome, finding the New, the Now and the Next and keeping up with the Constant, while updating Portrait listino of possibilities.  The vibe is that they are your uber-stylish, uber-in the-know and uber-helpful Italian cousins, and I like them.

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Number Two is Fendi Private Suites, seven apartments on the third floor of Palazzo Fendi, you know, the newly renovated Fendi mecca on the corner of Via del Corso and Via dei Condotti.  Like Portrait Roma, location is tops, you can get anywhere in the city by putting one foot in front of the other.  Fendi's interiors are gorgeous, flirty and modern-with unique, museum piece lamps and furniture, hip colors and textures- the sum of all Fendi in a pied-a-terre.  The concierge team hangs out behind a monolitich sculpture in the salotto area, which is a warm hang out of fabulous furniture, art and books.  The team is on hand until mid evening.  Like Portrait, Fendi gives guests a personalized menu of digital format experiences [read: ipad] which are made to taken outside of the hotel, and guests have access to the whimsically designed Palazzo Privè, the palace’s 2nd floor apartment, also known as the Roman Lounge.  This is where I would have a private dinner if I were you.  I found the rooms slightly smaller than Portrait and keep in mind there are only seven, in other words, they are already booked.

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Rounding up my list is Residenza Napoleone III, whose similarities with Fendi and Portrait include neighborhood (it is located in Palazzo Ruspoli, across from Fendi and down the street from Portrait) and private concierge (24/7 majordomo).  It's only differences are history and style.  Residenza Napoleone III come with more than three centuries of grandeur beautifully  - master paintings, antiquities, frescoes, tapestries, hidden doors and a princess, plus 21st century conveniences in two lavish suites -   Napoleone III (two sitting rooms and a huge bedroom) and Roof Garden (bedroom, sitting room and terrace across two levels).   Personally, I feel you have to have a very specific mindset/aesthetic to appreciate all of it.  For exclusivity, a chat with La Principessa and you'll see that Residenza Napoleone III comes with pedigreed noblesse and an access to Roman history and society that the others just can't have.

Eyes on . . .  Babuino 181 and Manfredi Apartments.

Prossimamente . . . Round 3:  The Four Star

For more hotels in Rome, please check out my reviews in the Telegraph and my thoughts on the Five Star.