Anantara Palazzo Naiadi Rome brings fresh glamour to Italy’s capital – Hotel Insider

This elegant residence embodies Italian style and history in a central spot in the Eternal City

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It is often said that while walking in a city, you must always look up to catch a glimpse of its best sights and architecture. In Rome, you must look down too or you’ll miss out.

That's especially true if you're staying at Anantara Palazzo Naiadi Rome, which sits on top of the remains of a 1,700-year-old bath house from the rule of Emperor Diocletian. Glass panels in the floor of its lower ground level allow visitors to peer down on the excellently preserved ancient foundations.

The hotel was an Italian debut for Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas, after the brand took over The Palazzo Naiadi hotel on Rome's Piazza della Repubblica in 2022. Since then, the group has added another Italian hot spot by way of Anantara Convento di Amalfi Grand Hotel.

The National checked in to see how Anantara's first Italian outpost measures up in 2024.

The welcome

The doormen who greet guests at the end of a pretty covered walkway in front of the hotel on Rome’s Piazza della Repubblica, one of the city's most famous crescents, are among the most solicitous I have encountered anywhere, with no courtesy or bonhomie spared. They also wear fetching top hats.

Inside, the comfortable seating on the periphery of the high-ceilinged Lobby Bar serves as a useful waiting or meeting point away from the bustle of the entrance. The decor is classic and upscale. Staff – and there are many of them – are efficient and gracious.

The neighbourhood

The piazza, which many rooms overlook, features the impressive Fountain of the Naiads and Basilica of St Mary of the Angels and Martyrs, with interiors attributed to Michelangelo. The ornate Teatro dell'Opera di Roma and the National Roman Museum are within a stone's throw and the Trevi Fountain is about a 20-minute walk away. The hotel is also well-connected with public transport, including buses and a metro stop right outside the door, and taxis are plentiful.

The room

The hotel decor evokes Anantara's signature style, think elegant with a real sense of location, and much of it is classically Roman, with high marble ceilings in abundance, including in my junior suite. The room is spacious and presented in tasteful greens and gold, and has a large bathroom boasting an abundance of Acqua di Parma products. The view over the piazza is a definite bonus. Attractively, room rates include several extras, such as tickets to some of the city tourist hot spots and an airport transfer.

The service

The service at this hotel is one reminder why luxury brands charge travellers what they do, as the ratio of staff to guest is very high. There wasn’t a single moment when the concierge, reception or guest relations desks were not available.

A minor issue with lighting in the room was resolved within minutes after I hailed a member of staff in the corridor. Waiting staff are excellent and the team at the spa deserve a mention for their unflappable and kind approach to guests.

The scene

Checking in here gives you a sense of ancient Rome's splendour. The lobby feels a little like a film set, such is its glamour, which is perhaps one of the reasons why director Ridley Scott selected the hotel as one of the filming locations for the 2021 film House of Gucci.

The rooftop pool and terrace is a popular attraction, it's open from May to October, weather permitting, and comes with fantastic city views. And being on top of the Baths of Diocletian really sets the scene for a stay in Rome, a city where history is around every corner.

The hotel attracts a mixed crowd, and I notice a number of visitors from the Gulf among the guests during my stay, the familiar brand no doubt part of the appeal. It's also pet-friendly, making it great for anyone travelling with a furry companion.

The food

Breakfast at La Fontana restaurant is a Roman take on a typically upmarket Anantara buffet spread and includes maritozzi (cream buns) and tasty Italian cheeses such as truffled Pecorino.

The hotel’s signature restaurant is Ineo, where executive chef Heros De Agostini blends unexpected flavours such as the ras el hanout spice mix with classical Roman cooking. Five and seven-course tasting menus, including vegetarian versions, are priced at €145 ($156) and €160, respectively, with an a la carte menu also available. A standout dish was the paprika-marinated salmon with fermented cucumber and green apple tapioca pearls. As is often the case with high-end Italian restaurants, the varieties of bread before the meal and cheese at the end were just sensational. The restaurant is formal and the cooking precise and inventive and, with a spot of fine-tuning, will no doubt be in the running for two Michelin stars. The more casual alternative is Seen by Olivier on the roof terrace.

Highs and lows

Swimming pools at hotels in the centre of European capitals are rare and rooftop pools even more so, and with Rome’s summer warmth, Anantara’s is a winning attraction.

The only lows of my visit were unrelated to the hotel. Like most major European cities, Rome has an issue with pickpockets and that was evident on occasions while in tourist hot spots. That aside, the city generally feels very safe and is a pleasure to navigate.

The insider tip

For those wishing to indulge the senses, head to the spa where the two-hour Diocletian Bath Ritual (€240) is a deluxe, skin-tingling treatment. Staff are delightful and products are selected to evoke the traditions of the hotel’s ancient foundations. I imagine it's a rather more refined experience than when up to 3,000 bathers at a time visited the bathhouse below.

Culinary delights await at Spice Spoons, where chef Heros De Agostini takes guests on a visit to a local Italian market before preparing lunch together back at the hotel. I tried it later in the day with another chef and a pastry chef, who demonstrate two annoyingly brilliant pasta dishes (annoying because I still can’t quite recreate them) and the lightest, most sensational take on tiramisu. They also spoke charmingly about scarpetta – literally little shoe – a custom where diners take a piece of bread and mop up some sauce from a plate and eat it both to savour the dish and also to show their appreciation.

The verdict

A comfortable and stylish base in the heart of the Eternal City, with excellent culinary offerings and friendly doormen that make it a welcome place to return after a long day’s sightseeing.

The bottom line

Rates start from €750 ($805) a night for a premium room, with breakfast included; check-in is at 3pm and checkout at noon; www.anantara.com

This review was conducted at the invitation of the hotel and reflects hotel standards during this time. Services may change in the future.

Updated: May 17, 2024, 6:02 PM