Does Rome need another hotel at the Spanish Steps? More specifically, does the Rocco Forte group need another hotel near the Spanish Steps? They already operate the grand Hotel de Russie, one of Rome's most storied – and expensive – hotels, tucked in between the Spanish Steps and the Piazza del Popolo. Their new property, located at the top of the steps, is a very different proposition, judging by the sleek young things strolling through its public spaces on the day that I arrive. When I enquire, it turns out that Gucci is holding an event here; which tells you something about the hotel's hip factor.
In Rome, you don't want to be at the heart of the action; you want to be just around the corner from it, so you can retreat from the hubbub as required. Hotel de la Ville's site on the Via Sistina nails it. Stroll down the Spanish Steps and you're in the heart of the city's shopping district, but you won't have to push through the crowds to get in the front door.
Many of the hotel's public spaces front the street, with the lobby flowing into the bar and then through to the all-day Da Sistina restaurant. Each space has its own feel, from the ice-blue lobby with its reproduction Roman relics, to the cosy bar with its teal fabrics, but they all work together. More public spaces can be found upstairs, including the gorgeous Print Room with its yellow-painted walls. Coming later this year is a 500-square-metre spa.
The red-painted corridors leading to the rooms are undeniably sexy; it's hard not to strut as you stroll along them. In contrast, the rooms are more restrained; mine has an appealing masculine feel, with its dark green tones and its leather bedhead trimmed with studs. My marble bathroom is extraordinarily large, with a huge tub as well as a separate shower. Many of the furnishings and fabrics have been sourced from local artisans. The candle in my room is by Milanese firm, Absolu; the welcome chocolates are from Said, Rome's oldest chocolate manufacturer.
Breakfast is served in the Mosaico restaurant, an space with classic black-and-white interiors. The repast is impressive, with an expansive buffet encompassing everything from muesli, cold cuts and Middle Eastern dips to an array of cakes and pastries. There is no hot menu as such: "We will make you whatever you like," the waiter informs me airily. French toast, omelette, waffles? No problem. In the evening, Michelin-starred chef Fulvio Pierangelini delivers a menu inspired by the diverse lands once ruled by the Roman Empire. His eggplant, chickpea and mint dumplings are a highlight.
If you have brought your walking shoes, the good news is most of the historic centre is within easy reach; the walk to Piazza Navona for instance, takes about half an hour. If you are not so steady on your feet, there is also a metro station nearby. If you are after a drink, you may want to stay in and try the Cielo rooftop bar, where guests can sit on the terrace and gaze out over the rooftops of Rome while a DJ lays down beats. Alternatively, the hotel's intimate Julep Bar takes a playful approach to cocktails, with bartenders offering you a sample platter of spices; pick your favourite and they will create a cocktail around it.
A hip, contemporary hotel that also delivers five-star service.
From €490 a night for a superior room, including full buffet breakfast and high speed Wi-Fi.See roccofortehotels.com
HIGHLIGHT The stylish interiors make you feel like you're in a magazine shoot.
LOWLIGHT The spa was not yet open during my visit.
Ute Junker was a guest of Hotel de la Ville