You know how the saying goes: When in Rome . . . pretend you never left Los Angeles?
At least, that’s how you might feel walking into the new Six Senses Rome, which opened March 16 a few blocks away from the Trevi Fountain.
Designed by Spanish architect Patricia Urquiola, it feels sleeker and earthier than any of the city’s other luxury hotels with rooms starting at roughly $1,000 per night. Entering off bustling Via del Corso, you find yourself in an expansive lobby lounge with massive iron beams overhead, low sofas and armchairs arranged in seating nooks, a semicircular green marble bar, a plethora of leafy potted plants, and floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open onto a courtyard dining area with tables arranged at an undulating banquette. The rooftop features more dining with NOTOS, an alfresco cocktail, and “Roman dining experience” with panoramic views.
Take a closer look, though, and you’ll see the details that root the hotel in Rome. Travertine—the ubiquitous local stone—is everywhere. A digitally created mural behind the check-in desk alludes to the frescoes in the ancient villa of the empress Livia. And the spa features a circuit of hot, warm, and cold pools inspired by the caldarium, tepidarium, and frigidarium found in ancient Roman bathhouses.
The Six Senses is just one of a crop of new hotels by international brands opening in the Eternal City, which is in the midst of a major hotel boom. In late 2021, Soho House opened its first Italian outpost in the emerging neighborhood of San Lorenzo. Last year, Marriott brought its trendy W brand to the Via Veneto area. Hong Kong-based Pavilions Hotels & Resorts opened the First Musica in Prati, with a sleek modern design and a rooftop bar overlooking the Tiber, which joins the First Arte and the First Dolce to form a sort of urban resort spread out over three locations. Thai brand Anantara took over the historic Palazzo Naiadi on Piazza della Repubblica (now a member of the Leading Hotels of the World) and is renovating it. The fine-dining restaurant just opened and a rooftop bar is coming soon.
Like the new Six Senses, these new openings feel a bit fresher and hipper than the city’s five-star stalwarts. The question is whether they can balance their brand identity with the need to fit in. Soho House, for example, strives to capitalize on the artsy ethos of San Lorenzo with art curated by local galleries. The W commissioned local artist Costanza Alvarez de Castro to paint a mural depicting a Mediterranean garden with ancient Roman relics in the reception area; teamed up with the city’s most renowned pizzaiolo, Pier Daniele Seu, for the rooftop; and has a boutique curated by Daria Reina of cult concept shop Chez Dédé. Anantara Palazzo Naidi has preserved the building’s historic architecture and kept a more traditional style in the rooms and suites. There are ancient Roman ruins visible under glass floors in the conference room.
Rooms have private terraces.
This is just the beginning. There’s lots more on the way, including openings by InterContinental, Edition, Bulgari (which opens next month), Nobu, Rosewood, and Four Seasons. Whether they fit in or stand out, one thing is for sure: Rome’s hotel scene will soon be one of the most robust in Europe.