Eternal Affairs

Chapter Roma and the Sexiest Hotels in Rome

Chapter Roma
Chapter Roma — Rome, Italy

You can’t spell romance without Rome, and you shouldn’t have a Roman fling without having it at one of these hotels, starting with Chapter Roma.

I committed a cardinal sin in Rome. In the shadow of the Vatican and the cardinals themselves, I broke a rule that I observe with more reverence than any papal bull.

Normally I champion the idea that, when traveling, one should explore the local cuisine and try not to eat things they can easily get at home. But for dinner my final night in town, I got lazy. I went to a Chinese restaurant. And not some interesting Italo-Chinese fusion, but the kind of Chinese food I can find all over New York City, where I’d be returning in a few short hours.

What can I say? I was hungover and jet-lagged and coming off a long week of work events. I was tired of eating out for every meal, as was my colleague, and we wanted something quick and completely different. We should’ve gotten takeout. From the first bite I was eager to get back to the hotel and get some sleep before a crack-of-dawn flight. It wasn’t the restaurant’s fault, but the whole thing was a bad decision.

The hotel I was staying in? Chapter Roma. That was a good decision. The best I’d made all trip. Right up there with skipping a tour of the Colosseum. I’d never seen lines that long in my life, and there was too much else to do. I’ve always wanted to go inside the ancient arena, but I don’t regret passing on the opportunity. This is healthy, positive thinking. There are all sorts of things I’ll never have the chance to see. Enjoy what you’re able to enjoy, don’t dwell on the rest. Not even a wasted last supper in Rome.

Chapter Roma

Chapter Roma

Chapter Roma
Chapter Roma

But back to Chapter Roma, which I enjoyed very much. When I tell you that the hotel is sexy, I mean it as a total compliment. It’s not tawdry or trying too hard; it blends old-world mystery with modern design for an air of romance you feel immediately upon entering, from the moody lobby with its old stone staircase and Art Deco accents, to the tasseled, antique-style room keys that you leave at the front desk on your way out. In its own words, Chapter Roma is “glamorous and gritty.” In our words, it’s the kind of place where you have an affair.

The hotel is properly part of its neighborhood, Regola, and you could easily miss the front door, ingrained as it is into the building’s old facade, content not to call attention to itself. You feel like you’re entering someone’s apartment and not a full-service luxury boutique hotel. The lobby continues the feeling. It’s intimate and unassuming, but it’s your access point to Chapter Roma’s wonderful public spaces, including the Mexican-themed rooftop terrace and the trendsetting Hey Baby, a lively cocktail bar where you’ll also be treated to a shockingly good breakfast. Right next door, the MICHELIN-Starred Campocori (pictured at the top).

The guest rooms — where you’ll have your affair — make it easy to set the mood. They bring the Art Deco design upstairs by way of brass fixtures, voluptuous headboards, and vintage rotary phones. Glimpses of original brick wall stretch up to the high ceilings. Long-limbed lamps hang down as if dangled from the heavens. See-through showers, mixology-fueled minibars, well-curated pop art, and an otherwise uncluttered atmosphere combine to say “feel free to get freaky in here.” And when you’re done, pull back the blinds, throw open Chapter Roma’s apartment-style windows, and do as the Romans do, looking out over the street scene below, enjoying a post-coital cocktail (but not a cigarette — the hotel is 100% non-smoking).

Is Chapter Roma the sexiest hotel in Rome? I don’t know. I didn’t have an affair. I’m happily married. But it sure felt like it. Here are some others that could also make a claim to the title. (And here is our entire selection of hotels in Rome.)

Chapter Roma

Rome, Italy

Chapter Roma

Rome has glamorous, opulent, and luxurious hotels, but not many in the top tier when it comes to pure style. Chapter Roma is an exception. Designer Tristan Du Plessis was respectful of the hotel’s 19th-century digs, but not worshipful — one part dark and moody industrial modernism, one part gem-toned Art Deco-inspired swank, and one part irreverent street-inspired art adds up to a literally unforgettable experience.

Palm Suite

Rome, Italy

Palm Suite

The suites at Palm Suites are exceedingly stylish, full of artworks and eclectic, eye-catching design, and their sheer spaciousness is a real treat. In an 18th-century building containing ten colorful, contemporary suites, there are views of no less notable a landmark than the Colosseum, and is surrounded by the ancient remnants of the Roman Forum.

Soho House Rome

Rome, Italy

Soho House Rome

Soho House Rome makes a statement via an unusual building — in this case a ten-story Modernist-inspired structure in the up-and-coming district of San Lorenzo. More important than the architecture, though, is the atmosphere cultivated by the fact that Soho House is not just a hotel, but a club — so you’ll share its eclectic, art-filled public spaces not only with travelers but with in-the-know locals as well.

Nobildonne Relais

Rome, Italy

Nobildonne Relais

The Palazzo Mereghi was built in the late 19th century, but in a neo-Renaissance style that vividly recalls the 16th. In its modern incarnation as Nobildonne Relais it seeks to recreate the environments of four Roman noblewomen from the 16th and 17th centuries, to each of whom it dedicates one of its four lavish suites — we’re talking high ceilings with Renaissance-style frescoes, Venetian mosaic tile floors, and space for three or even four adults.

Six Senses Rome

Rome, Italy

Six Senses Rome

Six Senses Rome occupies a historical palace, in this case the 18th-century Palazzo Salviati Cesi Mellini, a former cardinal’s residence whose exteriors and architecture have been meticulously restored and preserved. Inside, however, the sky was apparently the limit for designer Patricia Urquiola; this, like any Six Senses, is as thoroughly modern a luxury hotel as you’ll find anywhere in the world.

The Rome EDITION

Rome, Italy

The Rome EDITION

The Rome EDITION makes a big splash, as Ian Schrager’s hotels so often do. This 91-room luxury boutique hotel feels both monumental and somehow strangely intimate; it’s set close to the Via Veneto and Piazza Barberini, but enjoys a generous measure of luxe seclusion. The rooms are handsome and warmly minimalist, and the public spaces are as theatrical as ever, from the dazzling emerald-hued Jade Bar to the verdant and lively courtyard garden.

G-Rough

Rome, Italy

G-Rough

In a 17th-century building with Italian design classics from the Thirties, Forties and Fifties, G-Rough defies clichés. “Eclectic” doesn’t do it justice to the clash of disparate styles. Every detail has been carefully chosen not only for its intrinsic interest but for the contrast it creates with its surroundings. This tension of textures is proof that you can’t have rough without smooth, or smooth without rough.

The Hoxton Rome

Rome, Italy

The Hoxton Rome

Like most interesting pairings, the Hoxton, Rome is a bit of a stretch — what was once a post-industrial East London phenomenon feels very different when adapted to a verdant, upscale Roman neighborhood, and while Rome is no stranger to cutting-edge boutique-hotel style, it doesn’t usually come at so affordable a price, or with so accessible and inclusive an atmosphere.

Hotel Scenario

Rome, Italy

Hotel Scenario

Tucked down an unassuming side street in the heart of Rome is a hidden gem: Hotel Scenario stands behind the façade of a well-worn 17th-century palazzo, but its interiors are pure 21st-century design-hotel chic. Designers Studio MORQ reorganized the hotel into clean-lined, modernist spaces, but they’ve left intact plenty of antique elements, like frescoes, columns, timbered ceilings, and weathered stone staircases.

mark

Mark Fedeli is the hotel marketing and editorial director for Tablet and Michelin Guide. He’s been with Tablet since 2006, and he thinks you should subscribe to our newsletter.