Hotel Review: Rome Cavalieri, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts in Rome, Italy
I’ve always been the sort of traveller who doesn’t want to stop. There’s always another cobbled lane to turn down, another architectural marvel to see, another market at which to buy more bundles of herbs with which I’ll likely never cook. I’m the one who sets my alarm for stupid o’clock, so as to get out and explore before the crowds, and to catch glimpses of ‘authenticity’ in a woman shelling peas on a doorstep, or stringing laundry along a washing line.
So if you’d told me – me, a girl from Sydney for whom Europe has always been the Holy Grail – if you’d told me that I’d go to Rome and feel that I’d been to Rome without really leaving my hotel … no way. Yet during a weekend at the Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, that’s just what happened.
Granted, I have been to Rome before, and I’m not suggesting that someone on their first visit shouldn’t venture out to see the sights for which it is known (to this end, the Cavalieri provides a free, regular shuttle service to and from the centre for guests) but when the thrill of dodging selfie sticks palls – as it most certainly will, especially now that people sell them, in huge bundles like millennial red roses, at every major tourist spot – then the hotel’s mildly disappointing lack of centrality suddenly becomes one of its draws: from its elevated position, high upon one of Rome’s Seven Hills, you can soak up a panorama of the city from your balcony, with domes and rooftops stretching far into the distance. The Colosseum is clearly discernible, as is the Vittorio Emanuele II monument; even closer is the massive Duomo of St Peter’s.
Culture vultures would justly claim that one of Rome’s greatest enticements is the wealth of art that’s housed in its many galleries – yet isn’t there something just so depressing about going to see great works and having to fight the crowds, who seem intent on snapping a picture of the picture, rather than actually looking the picture itself? Indeed, I’ve never quite managed to erase the memory of constantly tripping over the heels of a tourist who stopped short every two steps to photograph the maps in the Vatican Museums, all the while talking loudly about their broken blender. Staying at the Cavalieri, however, is akin to staying in the best kind of museum, a very opulent, relaxed and tour-group-free one: it boasts an art collection of over 1000 pieces spanning centuries, from the Beauvais tapestries in the lobby, to original Warhols in the penthouse and a series of works from 18th century Italian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. An art historian is available to take you through the collection, if you wish; iPod Tours are also available for those who prefer to browse solo.
But what about the food, I hear you ask – this is Italy: what about the FOOD?! Well, it’s a sad truth, I’m afraid, that not all pizzas are created equal – nope, not even if they’re served up with a side of Trevi Fountain and Handsome Italian Waiter. So if it’s authentically and consistently delicious food you want, the Cavalieri provides plenty of incentive to stay put, with a range of pastas, risottos, meats and fish at L’Uliveto restaurant, where the emphasis is on Mediterranean flavours and seasonal produce. Sunday’s institutional brunch serves up the best of Italian salumis and cheeses, as well as sparklingly fresh sushi, for an Oriental change of pace. And if fine dining is on your Eternal City radar, then simply head upstairs (provided you have booked well in advance!) to La Pergola, which is the only restaurant in Rome to have been awarded three Michelin stars. The attention to detail in the presentation and flavours of each course is nothing short of exceptional, not to mention the view of Rome, the abundant art works and the striking table settings – all accompanied by wines from a wine cellar that houses over 60,000 bottles, some dating as far back as 1893 – or, if you wish, water from a menu featuring innumerable choices, complete with information about each one’s properties. A little salt with your meal? Here’s a waiter proffering a selection on a tray: choose from Hawaiian black salt, Australian Pink or Peruvian Blue, to name just a few. And then for the finale, a many-compartmented treasure box of sweets, chocolates and truffles, each one exquisitely rendered and beautifully presented. Enchanting – not least because you’ll magically find room that you didn’t think you had.
The Cavalieri claims to boast the finest facilities in Rome, and with its enormous spa and gymnasium, offering pampering and wellness treatments from around the globe, as well as a variety of exercise classes and high-tech workout equipment – not to mention the four, count ‘em, four swimming pools – it’s a claim that’s easily believable. When the temperatures are soaring and the crowds are heaving in the city centre, there can surely be no finer place than flat on your back on a pristine white sun lounger by the turquoise pool, with attentive staff bringing you Aperol spritzes and homemade ice cream. One catch though: the facilities are also available, for a fee, to non-resident guests and this option is extremely popular with locals and families – so your bustle-free haven can start to feel a little crowded. The upside, of course, is that one of the joys of traveling is the opportunities it presents for people watching: you can do loads of that from behind your large sunglasses right here. And all without anyone trying to sell you a selfie stick.
Address: Via Alberto Cadlolo, 101, 00136 Roma, Italy / +39 06 35091