There could hardly be a more fitting setting than Rome’s former school of architecture for boutique hotel JK Place Roma. Minutes from Rome’s shopping streets and historic sights, classrooms have made way for bold modernist bedrooms – further proof, if needed, that designer Michele Bönan is recrafting casual Italian style with a masterful blend of mid-century furniture, dramatic marble and bright splashes of colour.
Noon. Check-in, 4pm, but both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from $504.15 (€455), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €7.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates include the buffet breakfast of breads, pastries, home-made cakes, cheeses, fruit and jams, hot dishes and the chef’s surprise ‘buongiorno’ of the day. Guests can help themselves to their minibar’s free soft drinks and snacks.
JK Place regulars may recognise Michele Bönan’s signature look – he’s the man behind Roma’s JK sisters in Capri and Florence, as well as glamorous projects running the gamut from designer shops to luxurious yachts.
At the hotel
Lounge, library, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, iPod dock, air-conditioning, minibar, free soft drinks, bottled water and snacks, Bottega dell’Albergo toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Pick your palette: rooms come either in gentle greys, ivories and golds, or jewel-box petrol-greens and clarets. Rosewood four-poster beds, striped Italian-marble bathrooms and Massimo Listri photography add a dose of glamour. JK Master Rooms have separate living rooms and bedrooms, with space for extra guests; room 12 has a beautiful marble fireplace and shelves lined with must-read hardbacks. The bathroom in Junior Suite 32 is dramatic: it’s almost as big as the bedroom, with a vast walk-in shower and lashings of polished marble and teak.
Don’t forget your glasses: specs to peruse the glossy art books in the library and fashionista shades to strut down the street in style.
Two of the rooms are equipped for disabled access.
Small pets up to 10kg are welcome in rooms for €80 a night. You'll need to bring your own food, though, and the bar and restaurant are pet-free. See more pet-friendly hotels in Rome.
JK Place Roma is more suited to adults, but under-13s can stay free in cots or extra beds. Older children are charged €180 a night. Babysitting is available for €30 an hour. Under-10s eat free at brunch, if accompanied by a paying adult.
Make like Don Draper and take up residence at the bar; if you get peckish, you can always sidle over to one of the tables and plush armchairs nearby.
Don’t hold back on colour; vintage Pucci prints and sharp tailoring should stand you in good stead.
With chartreuse and saffron taffeta on the walls and a Sixties sputnik chandelier hanging from the ceiling, JK Place Café doesn’t shy away from making a statement. But it’s also a casual and informal setting for a meal: grab one of the rust-red leather chairs or green velvet banquettes to sample chef Antonio Martucci’s specialties, such as gnocchi with local pecorino, black pepper and smoked cardamom powder, and a carbonara made the Roman way (that’s with cheek lard and yet more pecorino). If you order one thing, make it the signature JK burger, a home-made brioche bun cradling Piedmont Fassone beef, Tuscan bacon and a good chunk of cheddar. The hotel's hearty brunch, with home-made breads and cakes, pastries, sandwiches, pies, regional meats and cheeses, traditional pasta dishes, burgers and tiramisu is an experience that calls for seconds.
The wood-panelled bar stands at one end of the restaurant, flanked by round brass tables, Fifties photography and abstract onyx sculptures. Try a glass of Petit Verdot from Lazio or a JK sour, a house cocktail of Amaretto, passion fruit and lemon as unexpected as the playlist (Frank Sinatra one minute, Dizzee Rascal the next).
Breakfast is served 7.30-10.30 am, brunch from 12.30pm to 3.30pm. A full menu is available from noon to midnight.
Guests can order from JK Place Café’s menu during opening hours, after which light snacks such as sandwiches and lasagne can be ordered round the clock.
JK Place Roma is in the historic centre of Rome, minutes from the Trevi Fountain, the Villa Borghese and the designer boutiques of Via del Corso.
Rome Fiumicino airport is a 40-minute drive from the hotel, with good connections to many European and international destinations. A taxi straight from the airport costs €40 plus €1 per bag. Low-cost airlines land at Ciampino Airport, a 30-minute drive from the hotel.
JK Place Roma is close to the Spagna metro stop. From here, it is only three stops (line A) to Termini, Rome’s main station, which is served by many lines to other regions of Italy; see Trenitalia for details.
On-site valet parking in the hotel’s garage starts at €50 a day. The hotel's in a limited traffic zone, so if you're arriving by car let the hotel's concierge know ahead of time; they'll help you to avoid the hefty fine applied to unauthorised vehicles.
Worth getting out of bed for
You could certainly spend hours in the hotel’s library, curled up in a linen armchair, within easy reach of the delectable collection of art, design, fashion and photography books. Flick through glossy photos of Audrey Hepburn from the Fifties and Sixties or do some quick revision on Renaissance art before you hit the town. Once you step out the door, strike out on foot in any direction to sample a smorgasbord of Rome’s must-see sights: the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and Medici Villa are all within a 10-minute walk. Nearby, Via Condotti houses a who’s who of Italian fashion; stock up on all things logoed and monogrammed at Gucci, Prada, Ferragamo and Bulgari. The Borghese Gardens are landscaped in the English style, with cooling lakes and shaded benches perfect for resting shopping-weary feet; when you’ve recovered, meander up the gravel paths to glorious art-filled Renaissance villas.
Fans of Balthazar in London or New York might do a double-take when they come across Baccano (+39 06 69 941 166), a Roman doppelganger of the celebrated brasserie. Take your time touring Italy’s lip-smacking vintages: the wine list is eight pages long, and there’s an enticing menu featuring oysters, truffled tagliolini and ossobuco. A local favourite, laid-back Dilla’ (+39 06 69 797 778) dishes up fantastic pasta in a lofty timber-and-bricks space just by the Spanish steps. Look out for artichoke lasagna and a spinach mille-feuilles on the daily-changing menu. A five-minute walk away on Via Borgognona, Nino’s busy eatery has been popular with local since the 1930s (+39 06 679 5676). Book ahead for a simple but tasty lunch of Florentine classics such as ribollita, home-made gnocchi and a delicious chestnut cake.
La Buvette (+39 06 679 0383) on Via Vittoria is a fabulous old-school café/bar/restaurant – equally good for a quick cappuccino or a light but flavoursome lunch. If you find yourself across the river, grab a seat on Cristalli di Zucchero’s shaded patio (+39 06 69 920 945). Take your pick from the rows of glossy cakes and dainty pastries, or make a meal of it with a sandwich and savoury snacks.
Linger in the shade of white parasols on the terrace of Stravinskij Bar at Hotel de Russie (+39 06 328 881), a 10-minute walk away. Its courtyard and terraces are framed by lush gardens: the perfect setting for an afternoon coffee or cocktail. Make a pit-stop at Cavour 313 (+39 06 678 5496), a traditional enoteca near the Roman Forum. Sample wines by the glass or order nibbles at the mahogany bar; if you’re in need of an even more restorative treat, the home-made desserts are worth a calorific splurge.
If you’ve ever been to the Eternal City, then you know that it can be described as pure magic. We’ve never been disappointed by this dreamy destination: food, architecture, beautiful people, food, fashion, history, countryside, food, art, sunshine, and more food. Its stand-out feature? How to decide? It is all just so wonderful – with one exception: its hotels. I’ve never stayed in a hotel in Rome that is worth a recommendation (even the fancy places are disappointing and the inexpensive ones are ‘you get what you pay for’). Until now: JK Place Roma is not only the best hotel I’ve had the pleasure of staying at in Rome, but, maybe, anywhere. It is spectacular.
Crazy, hectic, lots of yelling, screaming and getting lost – our taxi journey from the airport on the way to JK Place was quintessential Rome. And, of course, we had the most endearing of Italian nonni driving our car who misinterpreted our poor Italian words directing us down each incorrect but lovely mediaeval street. Once we finally found the right direction, the approach to JK Place is as unassuming and understated as the hotel itself.
Occupying a stately 17th-century palazzo, we eventually found our destination tucked neatly down a tiny passage walking distance from the Spanish Steps, away from the tourists and all their commotion. A simple entrance transitions from charming cobblestones into a sumptuous lobby. The decor strikes a balance of modern restraint and traditional luxury it’s a gleaming example of less is more. Think of your favorite feature in the current issue of Architectural Digest, and that’s probably along the right lines.
Now, some perspective: my partner Andrew Goetz and I are the founders of MALIN+GOETZ. Our skincare brand is a modern interpretation of traditional apothecary ideas, aim being to make skincare easy, effective and a pleasure. May I be so bold as to suggest that, to us, JK Place is the hotel version of our philosophy? It is simple, modern, elegant, luxurious, and, every single detail is designed with a subtlety that, as a whole – like Rome itself – is overwhelmingly gorgeous. It is an all-encompassing experience of perfection.
The moment we stepped through the door, our charming (and handsome) host got up from his desk and walked over to greet us, escorting us into the main art-filled sitting room. Whisking away our bags, they processed our check-in somewhere out of sight, leaving us to relax with prosecco and olives – the perfect tonic, since our flight from Zurich had been cancelled due to a strike (in true Italian fashion) and what should have been a one-hour hop had turned into a tiring full day in transit.
Drinks and snacks downed amid this soothing space of art, antiques and fabulous fabrics, we were next gracefully ushered upstairs. Hidden behind a mirrored, paneled door in the corner of the art-directed living room, is the elevator. Now this was one of our favorite things: not only is the lift like a secret door for those in the know (because, who would dare interrupt this elegant decor with an unsightly commercial elevator?), it is also a cosy walnut-sheathed room in itself, complete with a plush grey-velvet sofa. Why bother with our bedroom at all? Golden-touch designer Michele Bönan who is responsible for JK Place Roma’s glamorous siblings in Capri and Florence has taken this chic to the next level – literally.
Our suite on the fourth floor was at the end of a pristine white-plastered hallway. Adoor opened to a formal foyer and a walnut-wood passageway took us past closets and a bath (I’ll get to that in a moment) and into our light-filled bedroom – Dior Grey, of course, with intricate moldings and finishes. No detail is overlooked – an intimacy-insuring canopy on the rosewood four-poster, with crisp white linens on an overstuffed down bed. And, most importantly, French doors led to a private set-back terrace that offered a welcome breath of fresh air (did I mention that it was 60 degrees and sunny in mid-January?).
The most memorable part of our little apartment though was the striped-marble bathroom. Dressed floor to ceiling in shiny grey Carrera stone, it also opened to our second terrace (sì!) next to the bath. Having arrived in Europe days before from frigid New York and having head here via Zurich, I couldn’t resist toweling off on our private porch after a hot shower. As you can imagine, we love trying out competitors’ skincare and bath products and I was only too happy to test the Natura Bissé goodies generously supplied for our grooming needs. Rivalling the awe inspired by the elevator, we were next impressed by the secret hand-sized chrome door on the wall next to the toilet. When touched – hey presto – carta igienica (‘toilet paper’ sounds much better in Italian). Can life get more decadent?
Yes. Each morning, and one evening of three, we ate in the restaurant. When traveling, my partner and I are generally of the mindset that you need to spread your wings, leave the hotel, and explore. This is especially true for restaurants and even more so in Rome, the world’s food capital. However, business travel and exhaustion forced our first meal to be at JK Café. And for that we’re grateful. While dining in hotels never feels special, or, it feels like you are eating in a hotel, the opposite can be said of here. What a surprise and what a treat! Service was impeccable and dishes such as truffle fries and moreish sliders were an absolute delight. While we spent our time out of the hotel at delicious traditional local Roman trattorias, JK Place restaurant was the opposite. It is sophisticated fine dining in every Italian tradition.
Honestly? We could hardly make ourselves leave. The location, decor and service are divine. We cannot wait to go back – and we definitely have a hotel to recommend in Rome. In fact, it’s reason alone to travel to Italy.
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 JK Place Roma’s Guestbook below.
The interiors, art, cocktail bar and amazing service.
Spa/workout facilities – although they are building these and will be ready next year along with a rooftop bar.