Introduction to a European Birthday Adventure
New Delhi to Abu Dhabi (Jet Airways First Class 777-300ER)
Abu Dhabi to London (Etihad First Class A380)
London to Rome (British Airways Business Class A319)
Hotel Boutique Nazional (Rome 1)
Mainson Tofani Guesthouse (Sorrento)
Best Western Plus Hotel Milton (Rome 2)
Hotel Palazzo Manfredi – Relais & Chateaux (Rome 3)
Aroma Restaurant (Rome Michelin Star Restaurant)
Rome to Paris (Air France Business Class A321)
Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel (Paris)
Paris to Doha (Qatar Airways First Class A380)
Doha to New Delhi (Qatar Airways Business Class 787-8)
Hotel Palazzo Manfredi - Relais & Chateaux
How do you make your Birthday extra special? By staying at one of the highest rated 5 star hotels in Rome! This planning started a few months ago, where I wondered where I could have a fantastic birthday dinner with a view of the Colosseum, one of the most iconic buildings in the world - and one that just comes across as amazing. I came across an article (can't find the link sorry) which mentioned a restaurant on top of a hotel, a hotel with a view, just across from the Colosseum. The more I dug, the more I found out about Palazzo Manfredi, and instantly made up my mind. However there were two issues - one, the cheapest room cost $395 USD per night, and those rooms didn't have a direct view of the Colosseum, but rather a view from the side if you craned your neck out the window. Two, the Colosseum room view cost over $1,000 per night - something I didn't find worthwhile especially with no Hotel Reward points on offer!
Nevertheless, the proximity to the Colosseum left me in no doubt we wanted to stay here, and was it ever worthwhile! We checked out of the Best Western for a nice 'self-upgrade' as we took a short 10 min cab ride to the Palazzo Manfredi. Mind you, it's quite a small looking hotel (almost cute from the outside) which feature's just 16 rooms, and they like to keep the service quite personalized as well. The night before our arrival, they sent out a quick questionnaire (or Guest Arrival form as they called it) with standard questions such as where you are arriving from, what time, etc - before they become quite personalized with options such as 'Check-in' and 'Check-out' suitcase packing services (complementary) and which fragrance you would like sprayed before you enter you room, to finally what type of music should be playing upon your arrival, to your pillow choice. Just amazing. Of course, I like to pack my own things, so I didn't take advantage of that particular service, but maybe next time ;). This isn't the first 5 star hotel I've stayed at, but it's certainly the most personalized start, and we knew we were in for a great experience.
We arrived just after 11am, and as soon as we stepped out the taxi, the door to the hotel opened and our bags were immediately whisked inside with a pleasant greeting. We were welcomed at the front desk by Raphael and his team, who told us they would make our 1 night stay pleasant and welcoming (no lies there!) - especially since Raphael noticed it was my birthday and said they would take extra care of me and my family - absolutely love when they notice things without needing to tell them, attention to detail never hurt anyone! Unfortunately our rooms were not ready, so we were taken up to the terrace on the 4th floor for welcome drinks and snack, but I took the opportunity to take some pictures of the small lobby and hallways before that.
The lobby gives quite a cozy (cosy? who knows) upscale feeling, and has a small place to read and a few books/magazines to look at as well - though we almost never saw anyone using it.
There was a lift that went to to 3rd floor, then you had to climb the stairs to the 4th floor, the terrace, where we were absolutely delighted by the amazing view! I almost wondered if I should have spent the $1,000 for the view, but only for a minute I swear!
This of course is the same view you get when you pay for the additional $32 breakfast (never understood why it's not included in the cost in Europe), or when you have dinner at the 1 Star Michelin Restaurant, Aroma, which is where I ended up having my birthday dinner, of course (review coming up next).
Then on the opposite site of the restaurant, they had a small 'clubhouse' type area with relaxed lounged seating and a bar. It's worth remembering that despite it being November, the weather was a GORGEOUS 22 degrees. We had 1.5 hours to kill, and thanks to the decently fast wi-fi, and a glass (or three) of fine Italian Prosecco (Italy's take on Champagne), we managed to relax till we could get to our rooms. It's a decent welcome on the house, and a great way to relax after a day out as well if you get the time.
Once we had our fill, we were informed that our room was ready and we were shown to our room on the 1st floor. As mentioned before, we had booked the standard Prestige Double Room, which was 20 meters squared - again not large by any means, but comfortable. The Room itself was beautifully designed and had a luxurious touch to every aspect of it. However, what confused me was the location of the Queen Sized bed, which was placed DIRECTLY in the middle of the room, and not like the usual 'against the wall' kind of setup - we found this off but we liked the difference it made in the aspect of the room eventually.
Definitely Funky. Lights were everywhere - but that also meant that there was literally ONE single plug I could find in the entire room to charge my DSLR/2 x phones/iPad - and no USB slots available either, so I that was strange, especially since I had to unplug either the Bose bluetooth dock, or the Cappucino machine - definitely an oversight here. Also strange was the placement of the TV on a round mirror - which looks cool at first until you realize how distracting it is.
One fantastic addition was ANOTHER bottle of Prosecco (Paladin Millesimato which retails for $20-50 depending on the year) and some sweets as a 'Happy Birthday' to me - really impressive and not expected at all! Also was a personally written card from Bruno, the manager, wishing me on my Birthday, another great touch which left me very impressed thus far.
The bathroom was a mix of traditional and avante-garde styling, and shouted the color white throughout, and came with Battistoni essentials - a brand apparently well regarded in Italy. Interestingly, if you stand in front of the TV, you can see into the shower, which isn't great for families, but the shower is huge - so you can recede to the other end so no one can see in from the bed at least. Still, despite the color, I found the bathroom relaxing and oddly 'inviting'.
The view at night from the Restaurant wasn't half bad.
Nor was it terrible from the street either.
So how comfortable was the bed? Very. The pillows were okay, but they had a huge range of pillows to choose from as we found out when we returned from dinner, with our bed remade after a quick nap before dinner, and a turn down service in full effect, along with a weather guide for the next day.
Our bathroom/room slippers were laid out next to each side of the bed as well, and were extremely comfortable. Small touches which really made the experience, and the bathroom was also tidied up again. While they could have done a better job with the bedding itself, as it looked a little un-neat compared to the 'look' they were going for, I honestly can't complain much about.
Like I said, the view directly from the room wasn't.. amazing - but the terrace/Restaurant view made up for it.
Another impressive thing was the glazing and thickness of the windows - which cut out 99% of the noise of the extremely busy street at the front, though I suppose this is to be expected from a premium 5 star hotel. The one big flaw apart from the power sockets was that since the bed was in the middle of the room, the ducts were directly on top of our faces, and it caused us to cough quite a bit till we turned it off entirely (it was a little louder than expected as well) - definitely not a great first few hours of sleep, but once off we dozed off into gorgeous slumber once again (did I mentioned how comfortable the bed was?).
I wish I had more than one night here - but I had a flight to catch to Paris the following day, so I was extremely disappointed to leave the family behind who spent more time at the hotel, but it was a near flawless experience. Those of you planning to stay here, rent the Hotel Lamborghini for a few hours next time, to make it even more magical. Next time I'm in Rome - maybe, just maybe I may go for a Colosseum view, and a Lambo drive. It's only a shame $400 a night get's you a slight peek at the Colosseum from your room, falling just short of one of the best views in the world.