The Palazzo Manfredi is the lucky owner of one of the most enchanting views that Rome has to offer. Situated next to the crumbling, magnificent Colosseum, this hotel will set your mouth in a constant 'O', and not just over the view. It may not look like much from the outside, with its plain white washed walls and crumbling Roman shutters, but the understated luxury that awaits you inside is of a completely different world. The tiny hotel has only 15 rooms, making it personal, private and a wonderful place to take a few days relaxation.
Simply put, its neighbour is the Colosseum. And when we say neighbour, we mean direct, adjacent, and as close as is humanly possible without building a house in the middle of the road that surrounds the ancient amphitheatre. Other than meaning brilliant views and a very short walk to visit, it also means you are in the heart of Rome's lively Ancient Quarter. Just over the road is the Parco Colle Oppio, one of Rome's central parks and built on the site of one of Ancient Rome's most exclusive neighbourhoods. It also covers the northern tip of the Oppian Hill, one of Rome's seven famous hills, providing great views over the city and its ancient attractions. Situated next to the Colosseum, you are also a few minutes' walk from the Roman Forum and the Vittoriano Palace, as well as the bustling shopping streets of Via del Corso and the exclusive Via Condotti.
Built in the 1500s as a convent, the hotel then fell into the hands of the noble Guidi family and was turned into a private residence. When it was eventually taken over by the Manfredi family for which it is named, it spent many years as an office for the family's construction business before becoming the exclusive hotel that it is today. Now, it caters to an elite clientele, providing a first class restaurant and terrace bar and all the services your heart could desire. With the most recent refurbishment in 2010, the hotel is still extremely fresh and is run with ultimate precision. It is this precision and attention to detail - the complimentary iPads offered at reception for example or the Battistoni products in the bathroom - that makes the Palazzo Manfredi so attractive.
Given its location and size, this hotel doesn't need or have large spaces. The lobby is large enough to hold the small reception and a gorgeous little seating area, which feels more like someone's personal living room than a waiting area in a hotel. The shelves are lined with books, newspapers lie waiting on the side and the sofas look good enough to doze on for a good few hours. A small lift will take you to the top floor and the terrace with its bar and restaurant. Navigate a corridor or two and a narrow set of stairs and you emerge out onto the terrace, with its three separate rooms. This is the only other communal space that the hotel has but its view is enough to captivate for hours and the small bar area to the left is especially comfortable, with wicker furniture and plenty of cushions on which to pass an afternoon in the Roman sunshine.
There are six types of room to choose from at the Palazzo Manfredi. All will provide you with a superbly comfortable bed to rest your head at night, but it is the added extras upon which you must decide. If you want the full Monty, complete with small spa centre and gym, the Suite Coloseo is for you. A huge mirror-cum-TV and a surround sound system complete the exclusivity of this suite. Interestingly, the room looks directly down onto the excavated site of the gladiators' changing rooms, with a tunnel leading directly into the arena of the Colosseum. If not the top suite, then even the Prestige rooms come with a Nespresso machine, Sky TV, free Wi-Fi and luxurious bathroom products from Italian designer, Battistoni. Decked out in marble with large bathtubs or huge walk-in showers, they are well-lit, spacious and impeccably clean. In the bedroom, the wooden floors are covered with cosy rugs and the beds are laden with pillows. Room service is, of course, at your disposal, as well as iPod docks to provide the right music to set the tone.
It is the food and drink that really make this hotel one of the finest that Rome has to offer. Open for lunch and dinner, choose from lobster, seabass, veal and a very tempting list of desserts that each deserve a try. The menu is seasonal, along with special menus for holidays, such as Christmas and the New Year. The chef, we were told, spends a large amount of time researching his recipes and products before choosing the best local produce. His meals are all typically Mediterranean but incorporate an essential Roman flavour as well. The dishes are, as you would expect, presented flawlessly, with drizzled sauces and good sized portions that will leave you satisfied but not overflowing. The service is faultless, attentive and most especially full of recommendations. Its popularity with non-residents seals the deal in terms of recommendations, with other hotels around the city recommending it as one of the top places to spend a night out in the capital. Breakfast is also served in the restaurant, with guests able to choose from a buffet style or an à la carte menu, depending on their preference.
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