Maalot Roma offers a kind of Roman Holiday in reverse, where you’ll come to the Eternal City to be enshrined amid regal luxury. But, this former home of 19th-century opera composer Gaetano Donizetti isn’t a diva – the friendly-as-can-be staff encourage you to make yourself at home, whether you’re taking an eau de nil banquette underneath the wide-spread chandelier in the nerve-centre restaurant, sampling your way through the rum collection in the cosy bar or are being jet-massaged in your room’s marble-lined shower-cum-hammam. Decor hithers and thithers between eras and styles, with a look that’s British colonial and English country garden, by way of the Grand Tour. Furnishings are bespoke in luxe materials, rooms are lined with richly hued fabrics, and Baroque paintings with irreverent modern details line the walls. And, it may be steps from the Trevi Fountain but it’s intimately tucked away, so all this splendour is just for those in the know.
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A cocktail each at the bar with a selection of canapés
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £455.55 (€526), including 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 usually include a generous breakfast with homemade cakes, breads, cereals, yoghurts, fresh fruit, juices, coffee and tea.
Maalot is meant to feel like a true Italian home, and it’s been designed to ensure guests feel like it’s their own during their stay; the hotel opted for real keys over cards, paintings in rooms are inspired by the Marvin Gaye song Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home), and minibar drinks are free – we’ll saluti to that.
At the hotel
Lounge, bar, small library, fitness room, free WiFi. In rooms: HD flatscreen TV, custom walk-in closet, free minibar.
Our favourite rooms
Pick a colour: walls range from lipstick-on-your-collar red to blue as the Tyrrhenian here. And, Maalot has a palazzo’s penchant for maximalism, with gilt-edged custom furnishings in rich woods, a British colonial flavour with animal and floral prints and a smattering of small statuettes and art books. Plus fabric-lined walls for a cosier feel and jazzy arabesque marbles in bathrooms. So, you’re guaranteed drama whichever you pick. We do love the One-Bedroom Suite which has a bath tub – the only one in the hotel – for its navy and chartreuse colour scheme and separate sitting room with a fireplace; and of the top two suites sitting at the penthouse level, the Terrace just pips the post for its outdoor space.
Decked out in ebonised wood and mirror walls, the 100sq m basement fitness centre is a stylish space to tone up in. Technogym equipment includes a Kinesis machine, rowing machine, bikes and treadmills. Yoga and Pilates classes will also be available and a personal trainer can motivate you.
Bring your opera glasses for perusing the paintings and getting a closer look at the little library of Taschen tomes in the reception.
There’s a lift in the hotel and one of the rooms is suitable for guests with mobility issues, although there is a step into the shower.
Welcome…in as much as bambini are warmly welcomed into most Italian homesteads; however, as it’s inappropriate for them to prop up the bar, there’s little for them to do here. Although staff can arrange babysitting for €50 an hour.
The hotel makes an effort to recycle and encourages guests to do so with divided recycling bins in rooms. The hotel has installed a water-filtration system so guests can refresh drinking bottles onsite and lights work on a sensor to save energy.
For date night, retire to the smaller, more softly lit bar; for melodious gestural conversation, pick a pew in Don Pasquale.
You’re not required to dress on ceremony, but hanging out here gives you an excuse to pack like a prima donna.
Don Pasquale Cucina and Bar is the thrumming heart of the hotel where guests enter on arrival. It’s named after a farcical opera about foolish pursuits of love written by Gaetano Donizetti and the decor is suitably theatrical and witty. Silken banquettes in eau de nil and scarlet and tables topped with mirrors and locally made tiles are overhung by a chandelier that branches out across a vaulted Crittall glass ceiling. And on the walls are cheeky works of art – say, Stanley Gonczanski’s old-school portraits where subjects sporting ruffs and frock coats have been embellished with lobster hats, biker tattoos and balloon animals. Plus Massimo Listri’s large format photograph of Rome’s highly ornate Palazzo Colonna. Once you’ve mused on the walls, muse on the menu, which has the kind of simply elegant dishes the Italians do best (courtesy of chef Domenico Boschi): say, codfish and panzanella, tortelli filled with aubergine in a tomato sauce or linguine with zucchini flowers and anchovies. And finish with the cultural crossover you didn’t know you needed: a sweet taco with a tiramisu-style filling.
You can drink in Don Pasquale, but there’s also a bijou bar set to one side with a glowing triptych of mirrors behind the counter, intimate pairs of armchairs and artworks on the walls that nod to ancient marble reliefs – and some more poking fun at the past with Marie Antoinette brandishing an ice-cream cone. It’s awash with Italian wines and the barkeep makes a refreshing, vermouth-soused herbal spritz (and other tasty mixed sippers using house-made infusions and syrups), but the hotel’s tipple of choice is rum – there’s a laser-focused selection here and they can arrange a tasting of some out-of-the-ordinary picks.
Breakfast runs from 7.00am to 11am, lunch from noon to 3pm and dinner at Don Pasquale Cucina and Bar from 6.30pm to 10:30pm. The bar servers will top you up till midnight.
If, like us, you dream of heaped plates of pasta, you’ll be delighted to know that there’s round-the-clock room service to satisfy your cravings even in the wee hours.
The Trevi Fountain is so close to Maalot Roma you can practically hear the water spilling out from under Oceanus’ feet. From it’s super-central seat on the Via delle Muratte you can walk to all of Rome’s most marbled, gilded and colonnaded sights.
Both Rome Fiumicino and Ciampino are about a 40-minute drive away from the hotel and many services from across Europe and beyond fly directly to both. Transfers for two from Fiumicino can be arranged for €90 each way.
Rome Termini, the city’s busiest station, is a 10-minute taxi ride or 20-minute walk away – past museums, art galleries, the Quirinale Palace and Trevi Fountain. Trains arrive direct here from Pisa, Naples, Bologna and Florence, so you can easily combine your stay here with another of Italy’s historic cities.
With so many must-see landmarks within walking distance and the many car-free ZTLs to contend with in Rome, having a car will likely hinder more than help – plus, as civilised as the Romans were, they didn’t really take convenient parking into consideration.
Worth getting out of bed for
Perhaps only Romulus himself is more connected with Rome than the hotel is. With a forceful flick you could potentially land a coin in the Trevi Fountain from your window (two if you want to fall in love, as the legend goes). Although Via delle Muratte runs alongside the hotel and is one of the busiest streets in the city, it may be safer just to walk the minute trip it takes to see the fountain in full flush. You can easily tour Rome’s greatest hits on foot from here. To the north there’s the Spanish Steps, Villa Borghese and its lush gardens and gilded gallery, and fashion parade Via Condotti; to the east is the National Gallery of Modern Art, Quirinale Palace Gardens and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore; to the south is the huge Forum complex and the Colosseum; and to the west is the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the Vatican. Once you’ve ticked those off, brave the Mouth of Truth, gaze in awe at Galleria Sciarra’s Art Nouveau courtyard, go underground to see a temple dedicated to the myste§rious cult of Mithras (in the Piazza Bocca della Verita), see the Caravaggios at the Palazzo Barberini and Rome’s present-day art stars at Maxxi Gallery. See the setpieces of Cinecittà, the locations of iconic scenes and even meet some of the extras on a cinematic tour with Eleonora Baldwin, the granddaughter of Neorealist legend Vittorio de Sica. And cap your night by touring the city’s best cocktails – or ask the hotel to arrange a special meal in one of Rome’s noble houses – one for unpacking the evening gown.
If you’re taken with the hotel’s sumptuous yet eclectic style, then head over to Baccano (just steps away), a restaurant that was also designed by the RPM Proget Studio. It borrows a vintage look from Belle Époque bistros and New York’s Balthazar, and has a menu with an array of tempting pastas (a serious carbonara, fettuccine with shrimp and mullet bottarga…), trad secondi (rabbit with wild fennel, fried meatballs) and whichever fish are fresh that day. Practically on your doorstep, too, is Vos, an unpretentious modern, Metro-tiled eatery with an internal courtyard and delicious handmade pastas and pick-and-mix meats and cheeses. And, Trattoria al Moro (again, just around the corner) is an old-school trattoria with wine-lined walls and a somewhat random selection of art, but also a lengthy list of pastas and some finely honed meat dishes.
We like the graphic tiled floor, stylistically crumbling walls and vintage school chairs of Quirinetta Caffè e Cucina (2 Via Marco Minghetti) where you can simply grab an espresso or tuck into a lunch of burrata-topped panzanella, chickpea meatballs or a creamy cacio e pepe. Grom is one of Italy’s most beloved gelaterias, and the closest to the hotel is on Via della Maddalena. The menu changes monthly depending on seasonal ingredients, but stalwarts such as the stracciatella, salted caramel and zingy sorbets are failsafe favourites.
It’s hard to pop a cork without it hitting a wine bar in the Eternal – and eternally merry – City, but Il Goccetto might be the grand cru of them all. It’s walls clink with 850 bottles, enough to make your head spin before you’ve taken your first sip, but the staff will deftly guide you and ply you with some tempting bar bites. If you prefer grain to grape, then head to Open Baladin, where beer is taken as seriously as wine and they’ve drafted in picks from Italy’s finest breweries for tastings.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this eccentric art-clad den in Rome’s Centro Storico, wrung out their clothes after a romp through the Trevi Fountain, and mapped out their Baroque gallery wall back home, a full account of their city-slick break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Maalot Roma in the Trevi district…
You may not be familiar with the work of Gaetano Donizetti, but in the 19th century he wowed theatregoers with his side-splitting opera buffas: farcical warblers which largely revolved around foolish pursuits of love. And, he happened to write some of his most famous while living on Via delle Muratte in the building that now houses Maalot Roma. Perhaps it was living on Rome’s busiest street which so revved up his creativity, or maybe having the aquatic drama of the Trevi Fountain just steps away with all its longing-for-love coin tosses. Unfortunately, the space became somewhat less inspiring after Donizetti moved away and a bank set up shop. So, it’s exciting to see it swell back to life, like the bosom of a crescendo-approaching soprano, as a luxurious yet laidback home-from-home in the Eternal City. Donizetti gets namechecked as one of the penthouse suites, but that’s not the only nod to operatic grandeur. The walls are hung with photos of Baroque palaces and irreverent takes on Renaissance portraiture; rooms are painted in vivid hues of theatre-seat scarlet, night-sky blue and forest green, and have bathrooms lined in arabesque marble; animal and floral prints abound; and the beating-heart restaurant has a chandelier so large it could host an orgy of swingers. All in all it’s a fitting cadenza to Donizetti, and throughout the various acts of your holiday Maalot chews up the scenery, in the most fabulous of ways.