If you like the finer things in life, but find Midas-molested hotels a little tacky, G Rough, a 10-suite boutique stay in central Rome, wraps five-star service and retro Roman glamour in shabby-chic garb. Exposed brick, and scuffed and scrubbed walls sit alongside furnishings worthy of a design museum (a Giò Ponti bar here, an Ico Parisi sideboard there). With the Pantheon close by and a home-from-home ambience, even the smoothest operators will find they like it a little rough.
Get this when you book through us:
A welcome drink in the bar, and a bottle of wine in your room on arrival.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm. Early arrivals can store luggage and order a drink at the bar.
Double rooms from $247.53 (€224), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.50 per person per night on check-out.
Rates usually include Continental breakfast, with freshly baked croissants and bread, jam and butter, Italian coffee and freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice.
The Latin inscription on the building’s façade ‘Satis ampla quae securitate rideat’ roughly translates to ‘large enough to feel secure’ – and while the hotel’s not big, it does feel rather coddling. Design nerds, and those with eyes, will thrill at the historic furnishings, dating from the 1930s–1950s, by Italian design whizzes Ico Parisi, Paolo Venini, Silvio Cavatorta, Guglielmo Ulrich, Osvaldo Borsani, Archimede Seguso and Giò Ponti.
At the hotel
Concierge, free WiFi throughout and laundry. In rooms: flatscreen TV, iPod dock, Smeg mini fridges, bottled water, coffee machine and kettle with a selection of teas, and bespoke bath products. Pasquino Suites and up have a kitchenette (hob, saucepans, cutlery, crockery and glassware).
Our favourite rooms
We love the cosy secluded terrace in the Pasquino Suite Plus. The styling in the Suite Plus – deep-blue velvet lounge chairs, sleek Seguso vases and a Giò Ponti bar where you could imagine Marcello Mastroianni mixing Aperol Spritzes– makes us swoon with desire. All suites are dressed with food-for-thought artworks, but we love the graffiti in one of the Pasquino Suites – left over from a demolition party during the hotel's renovation.
Driving gloves, so you’re prepared for zipping about on a Vespa. In the cooler months, a tailored black-leather jacket for posing moodily in.
In-room spa and beauty treatments can be arranged on request, just ask the lifestyle manager. Tresses in need of coiffing? Summon a hairdresser to your room.
Well-behaved doggies and moggies can stay too, for €50 a night. Bowls and litter are provided, but your furry friends aren't allowed in public areas. Just let the hotel know when booking. See more pet-friendly hotels in Rome.
Welcome. Baby cots can be added to all rooms, extra beds to Pasquino Suites and up. The hotel has a range of family tours: Stone Zoo (a tour of the city’s animal statuary), and Myths and Legends (a tour of Roman ruins with a storyteller).
We like the banquette nestling up to the bar, for discreet people-watching. Otherwise, lounge about your suite with abandon.
There’s no restaurant, but with Rome on the doorstep you’ll not want for excellent Italian fare. The hotel’s lifestyle manager can arrange a meal at a privately-owned palazzo just a few steps from the hotel, with a Cordon Bleu-trained chef and access to a terrace overlooking the city. Snacks and light meals (salads, charcuterie platters, paté, cheeses and a few desserts) are served in G-Bar.
G-Bar – a vision in gold metro tiles, turquoise wall panels and button-back, mid-century modern sofas – is just off the reception. Its veneer of old-school sophistication makes it a super spot for pre-partying apéritifs, and local artists display their creations here on a rotating programme. Picks from the self-proclaimed ‘contemporary wine gallery’ include small-batch bottles and labels from niche cellars, and cocktails are as elegant as the surrounds; we like the G Rough Spritz (Aperol, dry Martini and orange)
Breakfast is served from 7am to 2pm. Drinks flow at the bar till midnight.
Available 24 hours a day. Guests can order plates of local cheeses and charcuterie, patés, salads, cocktails, wines, and hot and cold drinks.
The hotel is in a converted town house in Piazza di Pasquino, near famed shopping street Corso Vittorio Emmanuele. The Pantheon is just a 10-minute walk away, but the neighbourhood remains relatively tourist-free.
International hub Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (www.adr.it/fiumicino) is a 40-minute drive away, Rome Ciampino is a 45-minute drive. Direct flights arrive from the UK and mainland Europe; British Airways flies direct from the US; and flights from Asia and Australasia connect via India, central Europe or the Middle East. The Leonardo Express train runs a frequent service between Fiumicino and central Rome, and from Ciampino, hop on a Cotral Schiaffini bus to the train station: the centre is a 15-minute ride. The hotel can also arrange transfers.
The hotel is a 15-minute taxi ride or 20-minute walk from Rome Termini train station, with frequent Trenitalia (www.trenitalia.com) services from Tuscany, Venice and southern Italy.
It’s fair to say that driving in Rome requires nerves of steel; speedsters and traffic fines for driving in the Limited Traffic Zone can mean it’s better to hire a car only when leaving the Eternal City. There’s an Avis car-hire booth at the airport
Worth getting out of bed for
Piazza di Pasquino is a historic cobbled enclave, famous for its ‘talking statues’. The one depicting Menelaus holding Patroclus’ body (between Via di Pasquino and Via di San Pantaleo) is quite the chatterbox; it’s been used as a notice board for protests and satires from the 15th century to this day. To explore further, ask your lifestyle manager to arrange Vespa or bike hire. The hotel’s ‘unconventional luxury tours’ cover the best aspects of the city, while unearthing hidden spots. Art buffs can nose around privately owned Palazzo Colonna – an gilded abode, crammed with original artworks by Bronzino, Ghirlandaio, Tintoretto and Guido Reni originals. Follow in Caravaggio’s footsteps or tour the sites of Paolo Sorrentini’s Rome-romancing film La Grande Bellezza with an art historian in tow. Alternatively see the best of the city’s contemporary art scene, including a visit to the Pastificio Cerere Foundation. Oft overlooked museums (the decorous Palazzo Altemps and Galleria Spada), a 16th-century villa and subterranean monuments (San Paolo alla Regola and Stadio di Domiziano) offer a lesser-known history lesson, and those who came to shop can make their own bespoke leather bag with designer Luigi Mulas Deboisi. Your lifestyle manager can also book you a tasting tour or cookery class; and Rome’s most iconic sites (the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and the Vatican), and grandest squares (Campo de’ Fiori, Piazza Navona and Piazza Venezia) are easily reached on foot.
There's no restaurant at G Rough, but some of Rome's best eateries are within a few minutes' walk. The wine list at ever-busy Piazza di Pasquino enoteca and eatery Cul de Sac (+39 06 68801094) is dictionary sized, but if you like to be more hands on, you can eye up the bottles packed into every spare inch of the space. Home-made game patés, a packed cheese plate and perfectly al dente pasta grace the menu. If top-drawer tasting menus are your thing, elegant restaurant Il Pagliacco (+39 06 6880 9595) is helmed by highly regarded chef Anthony Genovese. Here Mediterranean meals have Asian flourishes and plates are infinitely Instagrammable. Dishes include vanilla-infused crab with macadamia nuts, green curry with duck and figs, and white-chocolate and spicy-peach bon-bons. Opt for the more traditional dishes from Fortunato al Pantheon's (+39 06 679 2788) classic menu, the super-fresh Caprese salad, the signature truffle-sprinkled tagliolini and hearty veal saltimbocca, are fit for an emperor’s feast.
A short walk from the Pantheon, historic Caffè Sant'Eustachio (+39 06 6880 2048) sits well with the hotel’s mid-century aesthetic. Founded in 1938, it’s a legendary spot; and the wood-fuelled hand-calibrated coffee roaster churns out a mean cuppa joe. Cheery yellow packets of beans and sweets make great souvenirs too.
Set in a 16th-century bishop’s palace, easygoing wine bar Mimi e Coco (+39 06 6821 0845) is welcoming and cosy, with artfully arranged charcuterie platters to accompany your choen vintage(s). Servers pour out glasses of excellent Italian wine until 2am, so it’s lucky that you’ll only have a five-minute stumble from Via del Pantheon back to the hotel.
To visit Rome is to walk among its ruins. Wander the city at night, the Colosseum lit up, pillars from the Forum still standing, just, as traffic grinds slowly by. We arrived in the city after spending New Year’s Eve on Capri, then the first fragile days of January amid the tourists in Naples, before our journey led us onward to Florence. Each city has its own unique relationship to the past. In Naples, ancient ruins have been buried by history; Florence, meanwhile, has become a museum (or a museum gift shop). In Rome, the past walks with you around every corner.
Something of this is evoked by G Rough, a bijou 10-suite hotel located just a few cobbled streets from the baroque statuary of Piazza Navona. Despite sounding like a designer diffusion line of distressed workwear, the hotel gracefully achieves that tricky balance between celebrating the past while remaining confidently contemporary. Housed in a 17th-century former palazzo owned by Gabriele Salini – hence the ‘G’ of G Rough – the hotel has been conceived to retain traces of its past: terracotta tiles on the ground floor, exposed wooden ceilings, and walls half-stripped to reveal layer upon layer of antique paintwork – stretching, in some cases, right back to the very beginning of the building. In the bedroom of our suite, the result is a textured patina of alabaster and duck-egg blue, with a barely-there line of dusty rose ringing the room at shin level. It really is exquisite, and perfectly complemented by the work of contemporary Italian artist Antonello Viola. A large abstract canvas hangs by the bed, two smaller works above the desk in our little sitting room.
Art is a defining feature of G Rough – not only in the form of well-chosen contemporary pieces placed within rooms, but also as a key component of the hotel’s history and ethos. Every room contains an artists’ guide to Rome, full of quirky, insider tips that make you feel like a local. On arrival, we’re told that, as part of the transition from private residence to boutique hotel, Salini and his late business partner Emanuele Garosci (who together conceived Venetian sister property PalazzinaG) threw a party and invited artists to come and make work throughout the building. Some of these pieces remain: there’s a cluster of figures drawn directly onto the walls behind our bed, while black-and-white crescents adorn the opposite wall; ephemeral works – installations and performances – have been photographed and reproduced in a handsome book available in the lobby.
G Rough is a beautiful place in which to spend time. The public spaces are small but thoughtfully laid-out. You enter by the bar area, the breakfast room is through the back, and between the two is a small desk area for settling bills and chatting to the staff. Bronze-tinted Seletti mirror tiles have been liberally used to create not only space but also a sense of glamour, as light bounces off the bevels. Every room showcases carefully chosen pieces of 20th-century furniture: examples of the best in Italian design but styled in contemporary fashion: an elegant green wardrobe by Guglielmo Ulrich, a stone-topped coffee table by Ico Parisi, or an amusing 1930s art deco lamp complete with diving figurine. Suites are named after famous Italian designers (my one gripe: only men get a nod).
A Latin inscription on the exterior of the building reads Satis ampla quae securitate rideat – which seems to translate (my Latin’s a little hazy) as ‘Large enough to laugh in safety’. G Rough is certainly a fun place to be, but it’s also small enough to provide a highly personal service. Staff are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable – only too happy to recommend things to do, eat, buy or see. Of course, I travel with Mrs Smith, the finest 24-hour concierge service known to science. So instead of queueing with the crowds at the Vatican, or tossing coins at an imaginary Anita Ekberg in the Trevi fountain, we take a tram to the Fascist show town of EUR, on the outskirts of Rome, where the incredible Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana (a kind of square Colosseum) is now Fendi’s headquarters.
That evening, we’re in the suburbs again for supper at L’Osteria di Monteverde: seven courses of delicate deliciousness in the unlikely surroundings of a basic neighbourhood eatery. The tasting menu was shot through with inventive flair and unexpected Asian influences, but the simple Italian classics still had Mrs Smith and myself gurgling with delight: spaghetti rich with kale-butter sauce, followed by the most divine tiramisu this side of paradiso. Back at G Rough, Stefano was especially impressed with our (ahem, Mrs Smith’s) local knowledge. ‘That is one of my favourite places,’ he grinned upon our return. ‘I love to recommend it to guests.’
For those after a more traditional Roman experience, G Rough is ideally located. The Pantheon is just a five-minute stroll away; the preposterously monumental Altare della Patria maybe a further 10. Ice cream fans should indulge themselves at Grom or Gelateria del Teatro. We sampled both – in the interests of objective research; naturally. Grom, Mrs Smith’s perennial favourite, just edged it. On our second night, we decided to take it easy. We picked up specialities – artichokes in oil, chilli-spiked aubergines, olives, burrata – from nearby deli Fiasconaro for a picnic on the bed back at G Rough. Luxury linen bedsheets strewn with focaccia crumbs: when in Rome…
Like some other new hotels – Ett Hem in Stockholm springs to mind – G Rough combines a design-led aesthetic with an atmosphere of cosy homeyness. The kitchen / breakfast room is like an open-plan apartment, for example. A cake is being baked there on our first morning and breakfast is served any time you want. In our experience, G Rough is the more successful. Firstly, a clearer distinction is made between what’s included and what isn’t, which means you needn’t worry that every cup of tea will be added to your bill. Secondly, G Rough’s staff are first-class, combining an authentic interest in your well-being with a sprinkling of Italian effusiveness. Stefano seemed genuinely delighted that we’d been to L’Osteria di Monteverdi; Franco came straight to our room when Mrs Smith had trouble with the TV – he even gave us the login to his family’s Netflix account. It’s touches like that which make a stay at G-Rough memorable. That, and watching Mean Girls in bed with a mouth full of burrata.
Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel or villa, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in G Rough’s Guestbook below.
Our suite was great and we loved our roof terrace. The staff were lovely. The location is fabulous and lively.
Fast service for breakfast...charming but very slow