Hotel de la Ville located on via Sistina is Rocco Forte’s latest opening in the heart of Rome, close to the top of the Spanish Steps.

We recently stayed here to compare notes with the sister Hotel de Russie located on via del Babuino, close to the majestic Piazza del Popolo situated within a private bucolic garden offering a peaceful oasis away from hectic Rome street life.

When you arrive it is apparent that you are at a Rocco Forte hotel, although the colour palette and design details are stronger. Many of the guest accommodation interiors feel more wintry than we expected with earthy tones of brick and rust incorporating paisley prints. Olga Polizzi, Director of Design, has engaged and teamed up again with architect Tommaso Ziffer for the Hotel de la Ville project.

We like some of the styling, notably the 6th and 7th floor split-level rooftop bar which is best on warm Friday and Saturday evenings under the star-spangled skies and for the crowd and DJ.

However, in our opinion, the second floor restaurant Mosaico where breakfast and dinner can be taken, was very disappointing. The open kitchen looked untidy, the glass dividing screens unappetising, the smell of cooking off- putting. The patio is a heat trap and the interior, drab and soulless. Get out on the terrace early or don’t bother. The space calls for a fresh look, design improvements and the introduction of discreet cooling fans to make the patio more bearable during the peak hot summer months when Rome sizzles.

Alessandra Sardo, formerly 20 years at the de Russie, has now moved to the de la Ville to take up the position as Head Concierge. She is assisted by Laura and Sofia and it is a competent desk but with scope to improve.

Guiseppe Pucci at Reception gave us a warm and efficient welcome and escorted us to the glass lift and to the hotel’s penultimate floor. At this level, from our very spacious terrace, with its signature red and white upholstered loungers, we could enjoy the panoramic views of ancient Rome; taking in the key landmarks including St Peter’s, the Quirinale and Gianicolo Hill.

Restaurant manager Marco Pacenza, in charge of Il Sistina, the ground floor restaurant, offers an excellent service and Sicilian chef, Fulvio Pierangelini deserves a special mention alone for his Vitello tonato, one of the finest we have tasted anywhere. His homemade grissini, baked from several varieties of flour, are also exceptional. Il Sistina has the makings of a winter destination restaurant for Romans and hotel guests alike. It needs to settle in and the designers should address the privacy issue with the clear glass windows allowing passers-by to stare in from the street.

Our favourite, the impressive 7th floor Roma suite, is adjacent to the rooftop bar. It’s standout feature is the huge terrace perfect for al fresco dining and relaxing on the sun-loungers while taking in the magnificence of the city scape vista. Less to our liking, is the colour scheme, layout and size of the Canova Suite, situated on the opposite side of the hallway.

The Suite De La Ville (the Presidential) occupies pride of place on the 8th floor, accessed via a private lift from the 7th; it has the finest views from its expansive main roof terrace. Although well proportioned, we felt the bedroom could have been more generous and would benefit from access to the more superior of the suite’s terraces as opposed to one with views of the adjacent hotel Hassler’s rooftop service plant. The bathroom, with its low ceiling, appears to have been cramped into a space found at the rear of the apartment, as if an afterthought. Being the hotel’s most expensive suite, one would expect a larger better planned bathroom. Null points for this.

Executive Suites on the 6th floor do not offer as expansive a view as those on the 7th and 8th floors and they have balcony-style terraces. They are well laid out with those facing via Sistina getting our vote. Some facing onto the interior facing patio of Mosaico feature larger terraces, which we also liked.

In summary, a good food and beverage division under the direction of Carlo Lazzini (formerly Belmond Splendido, Portofino) and a number of delightful senior staffers to ensure a good stay with attentive service. Housekeeping needs to improve, laundry and room service is efficient and well executed. However, Hotel de la Ville needs time to develop more of a personality and some design and amenity improvements to put it into the world-class category. Choose the right accommodation carefully (better still let us do the choosing), give it a few months to settle and wait until we have been back to re-evaluate. Then, might be a time to experience the latest in the luxury hotel stakes in the Eternal city.

For now we suggest go and try it, provided you do so prepared with the knowledge of what we have written above, otherwise wait until we have been back to reappraise.

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