Hidden behind the discreet doors of a townhouse, on the corner of bustling Via del Corso, La Scelta’s romantic apartments are high up on the fourth floor, overlooking Basilica San Carlo al Corso.
Rome’s Fiumicino Airport – well-served by British Airways and EasyJet – is just under an hour’s drive away, and La Scelta can organise transfers in a private car from €80 for up to three guests. Frequent Ryanair flights arrive at Ciampino Airport, which is the same distance away by car. La Scelta can arrange pick-ups from here, too, for the same price.
Roma Termini train station is just 15 minutes’ drive away from La Scelta. Hail a cab from the taxi rank outside the station (watch out for touts trying to charge a higher fare). Radiotaxi 3570 (www.3570.it) are said to be the city’s most reliable firm.
If you’re brave enough to contend with the Italians’ honking horns, hire a car from the booths at both airports. From Fiumicino, take autostrada A91 to reach central Rome, or arrive via autostrada A90 from Ciampino.
Worth getting out of bed for
It's tempting to take a cue from Johann and waft around in your pied-à-terre, sporting a cravat and ruminating on verse, but Rome awaits… Big-hitters like the Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum are must-sees for first-timers; but if you've been there, done that, got the magnet with a picture of the Pope on it, then head to the Villa Borghese for its lush gardens and colonnaded pavilions – a welcome retreat throughout boiling July and August. Churches are the secret to seeing Renaissance art without museum crowds: Santa Maria in Trastevere and the Tempietto di Bramante are two of the best. When it feels like you’ve done classical art to death, take a trip to the National Museum of Pasta, a 10-minute taxi ride away on Via Flamini, a one-of-a-kind temple to carbs and cooking. You don't even need to leave your room to have the concierge plan a fun-filled day out: chat to him using your interactive TV. He can arrange a limousine to ferry you to the best museums; a private tour of the churches and palazzos; a visit to the nearby golf course; or even a helicopter ride over the city. Or, if you want to make the most of your hideaway, book a wine-tasting session or private cookery lesson (usually around three hours). La Scelta is just a short walk from the boutiques selling Italian cashmere, linen and leather on Via della Croce, and the designer shops on Via Condotti.
Nearby Casa Coppelle in its namesake Piazza is beloved by Hollywood royalty and the Italian cognoscente; order the salt-and-pepper lobster and saltimbocca from the French-tinted menu. For a more relaxed atmosphere, head to Pierluigi in Piazza dé Ricci. Ask for a table outside on the quiet, cobbled street, and savour the fresh seafood that’s made this eatery a favourite among locals. You won’t be short of something to drink, either: the wine cellar holds more than 600 labels for you to work your way through.
For stubborn homebirds missing the comforts of good old Blighty, a trip to Babington’s Tea Rooms, just around the corner in Piazza di Spagna, will turn that stiff upper lip into a smile. Hidden at the foot of the Spanish Steps, Babington’s has been around since 1893; it’s testament to the café's excellent eggs Benedict and wonderfully English tea. If you find yourself on the other side of the river (which isn’t more than a half-hour walk from the hotel), pop into Biscottificio Innocenti on the Via della Luce for some of the best pastries in the city. Not sure what to pick? In February and March, go for the Carnival-inspired frappe (heavenly strips of sugar-dusted fried dough); year-round, order the jam tarts or ground-almond biscuits.
Hip bar No.au in Piazza di Montevecchio has organic wines, small-batch beers and an all-natural, healthy menu. Have the steak tartare or a generous charcuterie board while sipping on an icy Birra del Borgo, and admire the stripped-down decor. Just a 15-minute walk away is picturesque Piazza del Fico, named after its fig tree that’s been there for longer than most can remember. Charming drinks spot Bar del Fico (+30 06 6889 1373) takes its name from the same tree, but also the Italian fico, which translates as ‘hip’ and ‘cool’. Living up to its moniker, the bar doesn’t try too hard: pitch up here for an Aperol spritz and a game of chess with the regulars, and maybe a few light bites from the aperitivo buffet.