Live like a local – albeit one with very good taste – at Le Quattro Dame, whose city-central, apartment-style sleeping-quarters put the Eternal City at your fingertips. There’s no restaurant or bar, but each room has a well-considered kitchenette, meaning you can sneak back deli-plucked deliciousness and enjoy whatever you’ve chosen in the comfort of your own personal palazzo. The building has a distinguished history, but the interiors are styled with plenty of modern, designer flourishes. The best bits of all are outside: the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the Trastevere district, for example, just a few minutes’ walk away.
Six, including two Junior Suites and the extra-independent Flat.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm (let staff know your arrival time in advance; if they can let you in early, they will). Guests can use the hotel’s luggage area and WiFi-toting sitting area before or after these times.
Double rooms from £107.96 (€121), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.50 per person per night on check-in.
Rates usually include WiFi.
In-house staff are available from 8.30am to 6.30pm each day. They’re brimming with exciting ideas about how to spend your holiday, so be sure to engage them.
At the hotel
Lounge with designer portraits and a mini-gallery of Renaissance portraits. In rooms: TV, free bottled water, black-out curtains and CO Bigelow bath products. Each room has a kitchenette with a minibar, kettle, Nespresso coffee machine, champagne and wine glasses, silverware and china. The Flat and Junior Suites have bathrobes, too.
Our favourite rooms
Our knees weakened at the sight of the Junior Suite Deluxe’s magnificent fresco – and we wager yours will, too. Each room also has a snug little kitchenette with plenty of thoughtful extras, so you can properly make yourself at home.
Bring a list as long as your arm of must-try Roman restaurants. (And an appetite for gelato.)
Language barrier? Non è un problema… Multilingual staff ensure there’ll be no awkward phrasebook-fumbling.
Little Smiths can come, but the hotel reckons it’s best for teens: you’ll need to navigate a 13-step staircase and a tiny lift (not ideal for pram-pushers) to get to your room.
None, but it’s pretty much illegal to go hungry in this city.
There’s no room service, but each room has a minibar stocked with soft drinks, beer, sparkling wine and crisps. Staff can arrange for a bottle of your favourite something to be left on ice (or not) in your room, pre-arrival (for an extra cost).
Le Quattro Dame enjoys a prime central perch between Piazza Venezia and Torre di Largo Argentina, in a magnificent historical building on Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the city’s arterial streets.
Leonardo da Vinci Airport (aka Fiumicino) is 29 kilometres away, a 45-minute drive from the hotel. One-way hotel transfers in a private car cost €55, for up to three passengers, or €65 in a larger vehicle (add €10 if it's before 7am or after 10pm). You can also flag a taxi from the airport for around €48, or take a train to Termini and hop on a taxi or bus. Alternatively, Ciampino Airport is 20 kilometres away (a half-hour drive). EasyJet offers direct flights to Fiumicino (Alitalia also runs a regular service), and Ryanair flies direct to Ciampino from a wide range of European cities.
Trains from Florence, Milan, Naples, Venice, Turin and Bari pull into Termini station, a 15-minute drive from Le Quattro Dame. Hotel transfers from the station cost €30.
The hotel doesn’t have any parking facilities; you’re better off arranging transfers or flagging taxis.
Worth getting out of bed for
The hotel is a few minutes’ walk from the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, on the edge of the Trastevere district, where lots of excellent local pizzerie and trattorie can be found (it’s especially lively by night). The Colosseum, St. Peter’s Church and the famous Spanish Steps are a 15-minute stroll away. Go for a potter around the Villa Borghese gardens at Piazzale Scipione Borghese; Orto Botanico, Rome’s peaceful botanic gardens is equally lovely. Shop for vintage treasures at Omero e Cecilia, on Via del Governo Vecchio. Post-adventure, relax in the cosy lounge, sipping an espresso and admiring the little selection of Renaissance portraits, including the eponymous four ladies.
Roscioli on Via dei Giubbonari honours its raw ingredients, serving delicious dishes that maximise each component. The restaurant has four separate spaces, including one for private dining. Dress to impress at Antica Pesa in Travestere, a high-end charmer with history: it was once a tavern frequented by the farmers who paid their taxes nearby. Eat with the locals at Da Lucia, a neighbourhood trattoria beloved for its consistently delicious dishes (you’ll have to fight for a table at Sunday lunch). Try Roman specialties, including trippa alla Romana – and remember to save room for tiramisu. Per Me on Vicolo del Malpasso gets rave reviews for its swish Mediterranean cuisine; the ambitious tasting menus include ‘Sea Rhythms’ and ‘Between Earth and Sea’. Enoteca Ferrara at Piazza Trilussa serves typical Italian food in a typically warm environment; the wine selection is equally praiseworthy.
Our taxi lurches and barges its way through the traffic pandemonium of Piazza Venezia, swinging a left onto a honking, growling street. Our heart sinks when we slow to a stop.
Oh no. Really? This street?
Tourist-flytrap shops peddle Martin Parr-esque boxers with Renaissance-statue packages on them. Rowdy Halloweeners spill out of the Plastic Paddy pub that pops up in every city, like a dandelion cheerfully forcing its way out of a pavement.
No. This is not Roman Holiday at all.
But respite is in sight. Propping open a magnificent door are two friendly Italian men; our welcoming committee. We gape up at the carved, mahogany, 18-foot door topped with snarling stone griffins. 'Nice door,' I say to Flavio, a co-manager of our guesthouse. 'Oh, you like it?' he says. 'Yes, I have one like that at home.' (I don't, but he looks convinced that I do)
We shut the enormous door, walk through the lobby, and a blanket of silence falls. We're now cocooned in a 17th-century enclave with handsome marble staircases and no clue of the hubbub outside. Ahhh. This is more like it.
An Art Deco vintage lift waits politely behind ornate iron gates; as we whir and clunk our way upwards, we feel like we're in Poirot. We're shown into teal-walled entrance rooms with Renaissance prints of the four 'Portraits of a Girl' the property is named after, plus parquet flooring, burnished gold details, sleek contemporary chairs and squashy sofas.
We're staying in the Junior Suite Deluxe. My experience of boutique guesthouses is that they are generally beautifully design-led, but dinky. What you gain in character and style, you lose in slick mod-cons and space. This place bucks that trend. Our suite is a cavernous 40-square metres, elegantly dressed in an oyster grey, cappuccino and vanilla gown. It is dotted with the whimsical touches of a boutique, such as a bronze birdcage, but also gifts you luxier perks, too: two HD 48-inch flat-screens, a rainfall showerhead, and a polished kitchenette with a Nespresso machine and a minibar tucked demurely into a wardrobe.
We look up to discover the piece de la resistance; a vaulted ceiling featuring a majestic 18th-century fresco. Blimey. It's special. We definitely don't have one of those at home. We drift off in the designer super-king-size bed and awake eight hours later to the sight of moody cherubs playing on the ceiling with a sheet and a laurel wreath (bad times for cherubs; no Octonauts or My Little Ponies).
Fresh air is provided by delicately wrought French balconies overlooking a central courtyard. As a result, the suite is shadowy and serene, rather than bright with daylight. But boy, is it relaxing. All we can hear is the occasional caw of a crow, squawk of a seagull, or burble of a dove. It's so quiet you'd think we were in the country, rather than smack-bang in the middle of the action, within a 10-minute walk of the Pantheon the Trevi Fountain. Even the drawers close with a courteous sigh.
We can order a delivery breakfast to be enjoyed in bed (€15 for homemade croissants, waffles with berries, fresh organic OJ and coffee), but we decide to take a punt on the place the management has recommended as 'perfect for brunch'. On the 15-minute walk, we pass a clutch of priests swaggering down the street like a stag do, a nun chattering away on an iPhone, and a Buddhist monk taking a panoramic shot of Piazza Navona. Street art shows the current pope opening his robes to show a Superman costume (we agree, the guy's a legend). Hidden down a labyrinthine street, classy-to-the-core Coromandel is a vintage emerald gem, that serves insanely good eggs benedict and chocolate and almond pancakes on Grandma's best china.
We go to see the off-the-hook ceilings of Galleria Borghese; so opulent and colossal that they threaten to make the Sistine Chapel look lame and tiddly. The lush surrounding park, Villa Borghese, features a hopeful row of love-padlocks overlooking rooftops and the dome of St Peter's Basilica. We wander through the Roman Forum, past jobbing gladiators with plastic shields charging tourists for photos.
After a 12km day of sightseeing, we come back to the alternative reality provided by the Le Quattro Dame. Did we mention the lovely bathroom? It's a heady mix of marble and chrome, slotting neatly into the bygone-meets-millennial theme. A large modern mirror has an ornate silver frame in centre, which makes us feel satisfyingly like a cameo brooch. The posh toiletries are chock-full of lavender and peppermint: two of our favourite smells. The only thing overlooked is that there's no milk. But then, Europeans have never understood our British quirk of putting milk in coffee.
The owners here say in their mission statement that they've tried to create a hideaway where you can retreat 'as if you would spend your time in your home's privacy.' Well, mission complete. It's a bit Narnian, being able to go from the urban rush into a hushed yesteryear, simply by stepping through a door. We literally saw no other guests; there are only six rooms in total. And staff presence was barely noticeable. You do feel like you're stepping into your own apartment. In Rome, which is always teeming, even in down season, that's a rare and luxurious feeling. So, you know what? We're cool with buying our own milk.