Decked out with vintage finds, Casacau hotel offers secluded and surprisingly peaceful boutique apartments in the centre of Rome – in a 17th-century building just steps from the Trevi fountain. Helpful and well-informed hosts have curated the seriously alla moda Sixties-inspired crash pads, of the kind flamboyant Italian fashion dames Anna Dello Russo or Anna Piaggi would approve of, using dramatic fresco-printed headboards, era-spanning art prints, a sprinkling of antique trinkets, and turquoise and tangerine-hued mid-century modern kitchenettes for self-catering flexibility.
Get this when you book through us:
Two bottled cocktails from one of Rome’s top mixologists and a jar of locally grown pickles; guests staying five nights or more also get a one-way transfer from the airport
Six one-bedroom apartments with kitchenettes. All apartments are non-smoking.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability (late check-outs charged at 50 per cent of the daily rate). Check-in, from 2pm–8pm. Later check-ins will be charged (€50 from 8pm–11pm, €100 from 11pm–12.30am). Self check-in and luggage storage is available.
Double rooms from £194.62 (€230), including tax at 11 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.50 per person per night on check-out.
Continental breakfast is included, with fresh fruit, bread from the nearby bakery, nutella- and custard-filled pastries, jams, yoghurts, eggs and milk, left in a brown bag outside your door each morning.
At the hotel
A small lounge and library; free WiFi throughout. In-rooms: Olivetti typewriter; an iPad; a kitchenette with a digital stove, kettle, coffee machine, cutlery, tableware, cookbooks, biscotti and pasta; a mini fridge filled with milk, butter, eggs, yoghurts and bottled water; and air-conditioning.
Our favourite rooms
We’d happily pack up our possessions and wave arrivederci to our former lives to make any of these unique stays our new home. The Studio Apartment has a mini two-person sauna, one of the Corner Apartment's beds is an art installation you’ll be eager to turn into an interactive exhibit, and one of the Master Apartment's secret passageway (through a cupboard) may lead to an inward-facing balcony rather than Narnia, but it’s a magical touch nonetheless.
Encase your essentials in scuffed vintage luggage and faded tapestry carpet bags – hi-tech Samsonite has no place here – and bring a few spare euros to toss into the Trevi Fountain.
Casacau has no lift. Staff will happily organise in-room spa treatments, a few extra breakfast goodies or local recommendations; after hours there’s a postbox for guest requests.
The Studio and Master apartments fit a cot (the Apartment with balcony can take an extra bed for under-12s). The two Corner apartments each have a kitchenette and can be connected for larger families. Babysitting can be arranged on request.
Enjoy a throwback feast – with retro tableware, designer plates and gold cutlery – at your vintage kitchen dining table.
Don a Pucci-print silk bathrobe and swish about with abandon, and bring Mr Smith’s smoking jacket for a sophisticated slumber party.
There’s no restaurant on site, but the knowledgeable team will point you in the direction of local markets and food shops, so you can make use of your kitchenette. And if you don't want to cook (well, tyou are on holiday), the hotel has connected with local restaurants and bakeries for high-quality home deliveries, so you can have morning pastries, Roman pizzas or top tasting menus in the comfort of your home from home.
Breakfast is delivered to your door each morning. If you need anything extra, or an after-hours snack, put a request in with the obliging hosts.
The hotel is enviably central, just a three-minute trot from the Trevi Fountain and 10 minutes’ walk from the Spanish Steps. The apartments are in a 17th-century building in quiet side street Via in Arcione.
The closest is Ciampino GB Pastine International Airport, a 30-minute drive from the hotel (www.adr.it/ciampino), or Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino airport (www.adr.it/fiumicino) is a 40-minute drive. EasyJet offers direct flights to Fiumicino, and Ryanair flies direct to Ciampino from a wide range of European cities. Alitalia runs a frequent service to Fiumicino. Flights across the Pacific arrive via Abu Dhabi International Airport or Shanghai Pudong International Airport.
Termini train station is 4km from the hotel. Freccia Rossa (www.freccia-rossa.it) runs a regular service connecting Rome to Florence, Naples, Milan and Venice.
Unless you’re a dab hand at dodging Vespas and play the car horn like a prodigy we’d advise exploring the city on foot. The hotel is in the city's restricted traffic zone; if driving, leave your ride in the car park 50 metres from the hotel, which charges €30–50 a day, depending on the type of car. There are Avis car booths at both Fiumicino and Ciampino.
Worth getting out of bed for
Hotel Casacau’s managers Flavia and Kevin can devise a Roman itinerary for you, but in this enviable location a wander brings its own rewards. Lose some loose change in the Trevi Fountain – just a few steps from the hotel – while admiring the hippocampi-adorned bas reliefs, then stroll past the dashing Column of Marcus Aurelius in Piazza Colonna. The remains of Hadrian’s Temple are in Piazza di Pietra; keep an eye out for the Fontanella del Facchino, a 16th-century ‘talking’ statue on Via del Corso. The Time Elevator’s (+39 06 6992 1823) 4D cinema – on Via dei Santi Apostoli – offers a Ridley Scott-style take on Roman history, and five minutes from there the Scuderia Quirinale (+39 06 3996 7500) showcases old and new masters in the atmospheric galleries of the former papal stables. Adonises and Medusas await in the Roman National Museum (+39 06 3996 7700), but if you’re head’s spinning from historic landmarks, head to Via Condotti by the Spanish Steps to buy a list of labels that reads like a fashion-week seating plan, or explore the quirkier boutiques in Via del Boschetto and Via Panisperna. If you’ve fallen madly in love with your home from home, head to Nora P (+39 06 4547 3738) – on Via Panisperna – which is run by Casacau’s designer. End your day swishing and sipping a few fine Italian vintages at Roscioli restaurant (+39 06 687 5287) on Via dei Giubbonari.
Dodge tourist-pandering trattorias to unearth authentic Roman cuisine at Armando al Pantheon, where the Gargioli family has been dishing out classics including spaghetti with garlic, oil, and chili for over 50 years; it’s a favourite with locals, so reservations are key. Restaurant Eittakes the seasonal cuisine concept to a new level, dividing the calendar into eight half seasons; choose from four, six or eight ingredient tasting menus.
Highly regarded gelateria Il Gelato di San Crispino (+39 06 679 3924) is a short walk from the Trevi Fountain on Via della Panetteria. Their lengthy seasonal menu of ice creams and sorbets – with typically Italian flavours, including zabaglione and stracciatella – warrants a few repeat visits.
You’ll never be short of sights to see in the Eternal City, but there are times when you want to get under the skin of a city, to experience it as the locals do. It’s then that Rome guards its secrets well: the best restaurants and delis, the coolest shops and bars tend to be hidden deep in local neighbourhoods, down streets you’ll rarely find by chance. It’s the kind of place where we’ve always wished we had cool friends to stay with, people who would point us in the right direction. And now we have.
Flavia and Kevin are the friendly, enthusiastic managers of Casacau, an attractive old building with five beautifully designed apartments right in the centre of old Rome, just a coin’s toss from the Trevi Fountain. (Don’t get too excited by the idea of the fountain, by the way: it’s been drained for much-needed renovation until the end of 2015.) You can walk to pretty much all of the big sights from here – but first you’ll have to tear yourself away from your apartment: a seductively cool and comfortable haven from the heat and tourist hordes outside. Individually designed with a tasteful mix of vintage and contemporary furniture, quietly efficient air-conditioning (essential if you visit in summer), big, luxurious bathrooms with showers that double as steam rooms, and neat little kitchenettes with everything you need if you’re suddenly seized with the urge to cook. Not that you have to – a shopping bag full of breakfast goodies and daily treats is silently left outside your door every morning.
We stayed in Apartment 4, which has big windows looking out onto the little square below, a huge platform bed in the centre of the room and two leather chairs so squishy and comfortable they were like sitting on clouds. Casacau has thought through every little detail, so you don’t have to. They send a driver to meet you at the airport so you don’t have to struggle to find them. They supply an iPad if you want it, and a vintage Olivetti typewriter in case a novel suddenly stirs in you. Full of inspiring, quirky little design ideas that you’ll want to copy, it’s a real home from home – if your home happens to have been interior-designed by someone with immaculate taste, that is, with a maid to clear it for you every day.
But best of all, the charming Kevin and Flavia love their city, and they want you to love it too, happily sharing their knowledge. We asked for vintage shops and they sent us to Via del Boschetto in the super-cool Montí district just by the Coliseum, which is full of fantastic retro emporia (Pulp, King Size Vintage and Blue Goose are all brilliant) and furniture (Nora P is run by Casacau’s interior designer). Keen that we miss nothing, Flavia wrote down the addresses of her favourite stores for us, the names of a couple of the owners, even a recommendation for a good café for lunch.
Casacau itself doesn’t have a restaurant, but its owners also run Stazione di Posta il Ristorante Cocktail Bar in the young, edgy neighbourhood of Testaccio that is well worth the cab ride across town. The tasting menu is €45 for four courses, though they bring so many bits and pieces for you to try in between that it felt more like 20. With dishes billowing smoke, served in an eggshell or pinned onto miniature trees, it’s fun, experimental cooking of the sort favoured by Heston Blumenthal, but at a third of the price. We haven’t laughed so much over a dinner in ages, and watching the other diners’ faces as they tuck in is part of the entertainment.
To supplement Flavia and Kevin’s knowledge, we also booked an entertaining and informative walking tour round the neighbourhood of Trastevere with Eating Italy (advance booking essential). From market stalls to specialist delis, an ancient wine cellar to the kitchen of a busy pizzeria, for four hours our small group wandered into places we would never have found without an expert guide, tasting as we went and coming away with a long lists of places to revisit for more leisurely meals, plus lots of vacuum-packed deli purchases to take home.
We visited Rome many times before, for work and play. But after just two nights, this time we left feeling we knew it far better than before. Casacau was the perfect base, and we can’t wait to return.