Excess reigns supreme at luxury fashion house’s new Rome hotel – Sydney Morning Herald

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An imposing marble statue of the founder of the Roman Empire’s Augustus sits proudly in the entrance of the Bulgari Hotel in . The original piece watches over you on arrival and looks out to the circular tomb that holds his ashes. Two thousand years may have passed but this showstopper pays homage to his rule and Roman antiquity.
Just like in ancient and to signify power and affluence, marble and reign supreme here. Atop a magnificent fountain that adorns the modernist 1930s building, a Latin inscription proclaims: Here, the spirit of Emperor Augustus soars through the skies. His spirit is alive and well here, and from the get-go, you know you’re in a very special place.
La Terrazza: 360-degree panorama across the rooftops of .
Not many know that the origins of the former jewellery shop (now an international brand), lie in ancient Greece and Rome. And while Bulgari certainly doesn’t need any introductions, its soul is deeply rooted in Rome.
From humble beginnings, it has evolved into a formidable player in the market with an established and growing network of stores globally. The Roman connection remains strong, underpinned by three verities: it’s headquartered here; its gemstone superwoman Lucia Silvestri is Roman and has a cult-like international social media following; and its flagship store sits tall on the famed designer strip Via dei Condotti where, in its dolce vita heyday, it was frequented by Elizabeth Taylor and Ingrid Bergman.
The underlit spa pool is reminiscent of an ancient Roman bath.
And now, Bulgari’s hometown finally gets its own hotel. Its long-awaited arrival came with all the glitz and glamour you’d expect. The opening party saw 200 drones light up the sky with brand ambassadors and Hollywood starlets Zendaya and Priyanka Chopra Jonas flying in for the champagne-fuelled and jewel-encrusted affair.
Rome has always been Bulgari’s great inspiration, with its pavements, colours, lines and monuments informing its jewellery and other high-end designs. It’s only fitting that this 114-room design masterpiece is located next to two of Rome’s most historically significant monuments, commissioned by Augustus himself – the circular mausoleum of his final resting place, and the Ara Pacis, the grand monument erected to celebrate the era of peace brought forth by his reign.
All 114 rooms feature plush fabrics and, naturally, Bulgari amenities.
Just like Rome, the hotel features layer upon layer of detail in colour, design and symbols. From the outside in, this is fine Italian craftsmanship, mirroring the artistry seen in their high-end jewels.
There are the hand-made mosaic rosettes in the bathrooms, custom tapestries, Murano glassware and the thousands of plants that make it feel like an urban oasis.
The rooms – mostly suites – are adorned in plush fabrics, with Bulgari amenities in the marble-lined bathrooms, some with balconies looking out to the Piazza Augusto Imperatore. The grand 300-square-metre Bulgari Suite, at €35,000 (nearly $60,000) a night, has a freestanding marble bathtub, embellished with prestigious design pieces and views of the Augustus’ Mausoleum.
Views of Rome from the Corchia marble bath tub in The Bulgari Suite.
Guests are faced with the tough choice of whether they want to relax or indulge. The Bulgari Spa is a wellness temple reminiscent of ancient Roman baths. And, like the extravagant banquets of ancient Rome, feasts abound at the skilled hands of Niko Romito.
Known for his three Michelin-starred restaurant Reale in Abruzzo, Romito’s name is now synonymous with the maison. All cravings are covered with contemporary Italian cuisine at Il Ristorante – Niko Romito, aperitivos and sweeping skyline views at rooftop terrace La Terrazza, Roman classics and light bites at the ground-floor Il Caffe, and sweets at Bulgari Dolci.
Il Ristorante – Niko Romito opens onto its own large terrace with a view.
With seemingly endless drive (and money), Bulgari have focused philanthropic pursuits around the preservation of Rome’s heritage. Of late, it funded the restoration of the Spanish Steps, invested half-a-million euros to revive the Area Sacra archaeological site in Largo Argentina and worked on a marble project with the Torlonia Foundation.
The property’s arrival signals more than just an opening but what locals hope will herald a new chapter for the city, after years of bureaucratic and economic instability. Bulgari’s homecoming is yet another example of how the past, present and future coexist beautifully in this open-air museum of a city. And, together with a spate of hotel openings, it levels Rome up to grande dames like London and Paris.
Its next hotel ventures are in the Maldives, Miami and Los Angeles, but for now, all eyes are on the Roman premises – a 21st century temple of , cultural renewal and archaeological heritage. Welcome (back) to Rome, Bulgari.
The writer stayed as a guest of Bulgari Hotels.
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