The former abode of the Malaspina dynasty, Palazzo Dama is an 18th-century party pad turned luxury boutique hotel. The owner has a magpie’s eye for elegant paintings, sculptures and photographs and their collection is proudly displayed throughout. Elaborate gold frames and sparkling chandeliers – pinched from New York’s Plaza, no less – add a touch of historic glamour, whereas rooms and suites are more understated in style. In the garden there’s that rarest of Rome finds: a marble-lined swimming pool to soak in and sunbathe by. The restaurant’s menu has a lighter touch when it comes to French fare, but you can take the Aperol-fuelled after-party to the nightclub downstairs for a little decadence.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £238.88 (€280), 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 include a Continental breakfast of pastries and breads, yoghurts, fresh fruit and juices, and strong Italian coffee.
The hotel’s nightclub, Raspoutine, is open on Friday and Saturday nights for cocktails of the bubbly and classic varieties and dancing with the Eternal City’s bright young things.
At the hotel
Raspoutine nightclub, garden, gym, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: a flatscreen TV, minibar, luxury bath products, and bathrobes and slippers.
Our favourite rooms
Dainty Double Deluxe Rooms are sweet spaces for shorter stays, with clean minimalist design, cloud-like beds, Forties-style lamps and impressively roomy marble-tiled ensuite bathrooms. The Suite Royal has a large, private terrace with garden views – just the sort of spot you’d imagine Rome’s past glitterati would rest in after the previous night’s excess.
Make your way to the garden to lounge by the marble-edged swimming pool; there’s a row of sunloungers to one side and a smattering of tables for alfresco drinks to the other. Unusually for central Rome, it’s big enough not only for a quick dip but a few lengths as well.
Bring a capsule collection of pieces inspired by established Italian fashion houses.
Guests can request beauty and spa treatments in their rooms. Ground-floor Double Deluxe Rooms can accommodate guests with mobility issues.
Babes-in-arms are welcome, and free baby cots can be provided for under-4s in all except the Double Deluxe rooms, but overall this isn’t a child-friendly hotel. Extra beds for guests aged four and over are €90 a night.
Sit at a corner table to watch the dazzling signors and signorinas, or sit in the centre so all eyes are on you… A table near the windows lets you gaze over the gardens.
Glamorous Pacifico restaurant has elegantly high ceilings, glittering chandeliers and large arched windows overlooking the garden; there’s even a pair of palm trees standing guard on either side of the bar and a coterie of golden idols. Guests sit on white tufted banquettes as executive chef Roberto de Santis conjures up tasty yet virtuous dishes, created with food blogger Morgan Witkin, which are organic and free of refined sugar, with some vegan and gluten-free choices. Try a cashew-based twist on the classic Roman cacio e pepe, or go for the eggplant caponata. A Continental breakfast spread of breads and pastries, yoghurts, fresh fruit and juice and coffee is also served in L’Autre Dame.
Downstairs, L’Autre Dame bar is moodier than its sister restaurant; its indigo wall is just the thing for Girl with a Pearl Earring-inspired selfies – after all, it’s already hung with a cast of gold-framed portraits. Lavish chandeliers lend light to the space and inviting sofas are just big enough for two; order an Aperol spritz and settle in.
Both Pacifico and the bar are open from 7am to 11pm.
Order from the room service menu from 7.30am to 11pm; breakfast in bed is especially good: it comes with eggs many ways, pancakes, French toast and fruit. Don’t forget the coffee.
Riverside stay Palazzo Dama is in central Rome near the Capitoline; it’s just the right distance from classic attractions, with Villa Borghese and the Vatican a leisurely stroll away, but far enough from the crowds to feel local.
Rome’s Fiumicino Airport is a 45-minute drive from the hotel, and Rome Ciampino is 50 minutes’ drive away; the hotel can arrange transfers from either for up to three guests for €84 each way.
Trains from Florence, Milan, Naples, Venice, Turin and Bari arrive at Rome Termini station. The hotel can arrange one-way transfers for up to three guests for €45.
Unless you enjoy high-octane city driving, leave it to the locals when in Rome. If you hire a car, there’s a car park in via Emanuele Gianturco, about a five-minute walk from the hotel, that guests can use for €30 a day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Take an evening passeggiata (a well-heeled wander) to Piazza del Popolo, a gentle stroll from Palazzo Dama’s doorstep; it’s the site of the city's northern gate and home to Rome's oldest obelisk. For something a little more scandaloso, swing by the Villa Medici on Viale della Trinità dei Monti, Roman seat of the the notorious first-family of Florence, or head to the Galleria Borghese to peruse the masterpieces, including works by Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian and Raphael. Those in search of something more active can rent a vessel from the neighbouring rowing club Canottieri Navalia.
On a pretty piazza terrace, restaurant Pierluigi serves fresh Italian seafood. Casina Valadier, built by the famous Roman architect Giuseppe Valadier in the early 19th century, is a colonnaded and coral-hued neoclassical pavilion, with a terrace for the most romantic meal you’ll have in Rome. The tasting menu pairs rather well with panoramic views of the Eternal City. A short stroll from Piazza del Popolo and Piazza di Spagna, local low-key favourite Edy serves a reassuringly diminutive menu of Italian classics – we like the linguine with prawns and zucchini flowers, but there are no wrong choices… Sit outside in warmer months.
Lian Club takes the waterfront bar concept to the next level: this floating bistro and cocktail bar is moored under the Ponte Cavour and regularly hosts live music. Sacripante Art Gallery was a convent in the 18th-century, but things have changed in the interim: it now has a just-edgy-enough bar with exposed beams and scuffed concrete walls. After you’ve browsed the modern art, ask the mixologist to create a masterpiece for you at the antique apothecary table bar.
From the minute you arrive at Palazzo Dama you’re awestruck by its beautiful interior design and met with wonderful service. For me, these are two of the most important factors when choosing a hotel for a holiday; here, I’m not disappointed. Straightaway the staff showed us to our room, an immaculate Junior Suite. I was particularly pleased to find Tyrrells crisps in the minibar and I loved the amazing coffee-table books that were scattered around throughout. The reading material was a great touch and I often found myself leafing through – you could tell that each tome in the collection had been carefully handpicked. Our bathroom was classic in style with cute little white tiles and I liked having a window, so you could peep to see the bustling streets of Rome and glimpse the city’s goings-on.
Palazzo Dama is right by the River Tiber, a great location near lots of fun restaurants and famed sights. It’s about a five-minute walk from the Piazza del Popolo, and from there onwards you’re just a further five-minute walk from landmarks such as the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. However, the hotel is next to a main road, which, while not desirable, does make acquiring a cab super easy; ask the concierge to order it for you to make it easier still… The hotel’s exquisite design had already impressed me, but nothing prepared me for the salon where breakfast is served. You’re welcomed into a space crammed full of more art and fashion literature than you can possibly read in the time it takes to sip a morning cappuccino. The hotel was designed by architect Antonio Girardi, and his salon and bar, filled with gold lamps, cream-velvet banquettes, tall palm trees and elegant black-square tables was my highlight. You couldn’t help but admire it – and it’s ideal for both breakfast and a cosy, post-dinner cocktail.
Breakfast was included in our room rate; the coffee was rich and delicious, but I would have liked a little more choice in the buffet. It consisted of cakes, yoghurt, fresh fruit, cured ham and a little cereal, which was fine, but some eggs and bacon (practically de rigeur in an establishment of this quality) would have improved the spread. However, I’m aware that Italian breakfasts can be a little sparse (to make room for late-in-the-day carb-loading) and the waiters were always friendly and willing to help wherever they could.
The salon doors led out to the hotel’s pool – an asset as rare and desired as gold dust in the hot summer months. I was there in mid-March and the weather was sunny, so we took full advantage of the terrace. I’m a bit of a sun-worshipper and in Rome it shone down from about 10am till 5pm so I couldn’t have asked for better weather. When you’d spent half the day walking around sightseeing it was a total dream to know that you can come back and chill poolside with a tea or coffee in the afternoon. Despite being in the centre of a busy city, the hotel garden was peaceful; you really could relax and read a magazine amid the olive and lemon trees. If you’re seeking some serious ‘me-time’, then take your pick from the wide range of in-room wellness treatments the front desk will happily organise for you.
Palazzo Dama’s new chef had just started in the kitchen before we arrived, so the evening menu had been revamped causing the restaurant to become a destination in itself. We dined in the special salon yet again (as you know I couldn’t get enough of it…). In the evening the dining space’s tone changed, with dimmer mood lighting, and the bar came as classic jazz piano began to play; the soundtrack to glamorous punters sipping Aperol Spritzes and prosecco. I wish I’d hit the private club downstairs, but I was with my mum, and it didn’t seem like quite her scene – as it turns out, it was also closed in the week. I imagine it’s a lively spot when you arrive back late and a little merry from a restaurant and want a nightcap followed by some shimmying – just not with mum in tow. The space is just down a grand sweep of staircase leading to the basement, so if you’re visiting on the weekend then go somewhere a little more lavish, maybe with a few more velvet chaise-longues and crystal chandeliers, possibly with a thudding Euro pop soundtrack.
On the last night we ordered mint tea up to our room; it arrived on an elegantly arranged tray with silver teapots and biscotti. It was the perfect end to a busy day, and our suite’s heavenly beds with pretty, light-green velvet headboards made it all the better. A stay at Palazzo Dama is worth every Euro you spend on it; its owners and staff have worked hard to create a glamorous environment of gold and velvet, creating a classic Italian beauty, who I fell head over heels for – grazie mille bellissima!