The Australian - Wish Magazine - - CONTENTS - STORY MARIA SHOL­LEN­BARGER

Ho­tels Eden and De’ Ricci, em­body­ing old glam­our and new chic, are two con­trast­ing ways to ex­pe­ri­ence the Eter­nal City.

Once upon a time (1889, to be pre­cise) a grand ho­tel opened on a pa­tri­cian hill over­look­ing Rome. It was the first lux­ury ho­tel in Italy to fur­nish guests with a lift, elec­tric­ity, heat and run­ning wa­ter, and its re­cep­tion halls and suites gleamed with rare mar­ble and fine an­tiques. In its early 20th­cen­tury years, the guest book was graced with names such as As­turias and Bour­bon, and in later decades, with ones such as Sharif and Wells, Ros­sellini and Bergman. Through­out the 70s and 80s, the mae­stro Fed­erico Fellini favoured its world­fa­mous roof gar­den and ter­race, with its stag­ger­ing views of the his­toric cen­tre, for con­duct­ing his press in­ter­views. It was, among the world’s well-heeled trav­el­ling classes, a bona-fide Place To Be. Cut to 2017, and the Ho­tel Eden – ac­quired by the Dorch­ester Col­lec­tion in 2013, and re­opened last April, after an 18-month ren­o­va­tion – is once again a nexus of the great, the good and the glam­orous. Its in­te­ri­ors have been com­pletely re­fash­ioned; its rooms and suites con­sol­i­dated from 121 to 98, cre­at­ing vaster, more lux­u­ri­ous ac­com­mo­da­tions; its restau­rants, in­clud­ing the world-renowned La Ter­razza, rein­vig­o­rated un­der the aegis of the for­mi­da­bly tal­ented (and ut­terly charm­ing) Fabio Ciervo, a for­mer pro­tégé of Michel Roux; and a full-ser­vice “ur­ban” spa deftly fit­ted into its sub­ter­ranean level.

Such full-scale ren­o­va­tion projects are al­ways a cre­ative and po­lit­i­cal tightrope walk, in which re­spect must be paid equally to tra­di­tion and progress (and, of course, to bud­gets, mu­nic­i­pal reg­u­la­tions, and the per­sonal pro­cliv­i­ties of long­time VIP guests). Mer­ci­fully, the Dorch­ester team – which has form with such tip-to­toe makeovers, not least among them that of the Ho­tel Bel-Air in Los An­ge­les, in 2014 – has hon­oured the ho­tel’s pa­tri­cian bones and il­lus­tri­ous past while ush­er­ing it firmly into the 21st cen­tury.

The de­sign­ers Bruno Moinard and Claire Bé­taille, of Agence 4bi et As­so­ciés, who be­tween them have over­seen the look of the Fon­da­tion Cartier and Chateau La­tour (as well as projects for the flag­ship Dorch­ester Ho­tel, in Lon­don), have brought a rigour to the lobby’s pub­lic spaces and rooms alike. The for­mer, es­pe­cially, are far more boldly de­lin­eated than be­fore, the mono­chrome mar­ble floors con­trast­ing vividly with a cof­fered ceil­ing now en­tirely clad in glow­ing gilt; the en­trance lobby flows seam­lessly up a half-stair and into La Li­bre­ria, a new bar-lounge awash in sump­tu­ous rus­set and saf­fron leather, warm back­light­ing, and rich burl wood.

In the rooms, this as­sertive­ness gives way to a softer pal­ette of creams and greys. They’ve struck some as not es­pe­cially imag­i­na­tive, but look closely: the so­phis­ti­cated jux­ta­po­si­tions of tex­ture and sub­tle shade-con­trast­ing show a mas­ter’s hand at work. They’re also supremely com­fort­able, with vast baths al­ter­nately show­cas­ing veined white mar­ble and tiny, beau­ti­ful metal­lic ter­razzo tiles; leather-up­hol­stered wardrobes; and the (love-it-or-hate-it) in-room tablet-touch tech­nol­ogy for which Dorch­ester Col­lec­tion ho­tels are known. And clever touches abound: in the gor­geous Bellav­ista

Pent­house Suite, guests are greeted with the Eden’s own in-house com­pi­la­tion of clas­sic Ital­ian pop songs of the 60s and 70s – on vinyl.

The su­perb restau­rants, mean­while – the fifth-floor La Ter­razza and the more laid-back al­fresco rooftop venue, Il Giardino – are lur­ing much of Roma bene in to air-kiss, gos­sip, and savour Ciervo’s exquisitely plated in­ter­pre­ta­tions of re­gional, often seafood-cen­tric dishes. Both spaces owe their ethe­re­ally sleek looks to Pa­trick Jouin and San­jit Manku, who’ve done Alain Du­casse’s restau­rants at sis­ter ho­tels the Plaza Athénée in Paris and the Dorch­ester. But up here, as in all those decades past, the thing is still That View: a 200-de­gree panorama over placid cupo­las, an­cient tem­ples and um­brella pines – now chicly re­framed.

Far be­low, in the jumble of old Rome, is the ri­one, or district, of Re­gola, a fe­lic­i­tous ac­cre­tion of low-rise build­ings and aris­to­cratic 14th and 15th-cen­tury churches and palaces; the beat­ing heart of Rome’s cen­tro storico, home to both the Campo de’ Fiori’s happy chaos and the re­splen­dent sym­me­try of the Palazzo Far­nese. Here, on a tiny lane just off the no­ble Via Gi­u­lia, is the Ho­tel de’ Ricci, which opened in late May.

The joint project of cre­ative direc­tors Daria Reina and An­drea Ferolla (founders of Chez Dédé, the achingly chic con­cept store on the Via de Mon­ser­rato) and Lorenzo Lisi (the pro­pri­etor of nearby Pier­luigi, one of Rome’s finest – and most peren­ni­ally rammed – seafood restau­rants), the Ho­tel De’ Ricci sits be­hind an unas­sum­ing four-story palazz­ino façade, marked only by a lantern glow­ing next to a glass door. It houses just eight suites, each to­tally in­di­vid­ual in lay­out and de­sign; a dimly-lit cock­tail bar swathed in rich vel­vet, called Cha­rade; and a spec­tac­u­lar sub­ter­ranean wine cel­lar with some 1500 bot­tles, re­plete with bou­tique and bluechip Ital­ian pro­duc­ers.

Lisi – who ac­quired the palazzo over a decade ago and, im­pressed by Ferolla and Reina’s aes­thetic, in­vited them to de­sign the in­te­ri­ors – wanted to re­alise a longnur­tured vi­sion of ease­ful, tai­lor-made, vaguely nos­tal­gic hos­pi­tal­ity with a food-wine ex­pe­ri­ence at its core. Wine is thus uniquely in­her­ent to the De’ Ricci story: many of the su­per-com­pe­tent young staffers are ac­cred­ited som­me­liers, and guests have full ac­cess to that cel­lar, which is run on an hon­esty ba­sis. Be­spoke in-suite col­lec­tions are also crafted for each of them by gen­eral man­ager Flavio Scan­navino, based on their re­gional and va­ri­etal pref­er­ences.

Ferolla and Reina have seen bril­liantly to the nos­tal­gia fac­tor, via a de­sign nar­ra­tive that nods to the 1960s hey­day of Ro­man style: suites boast whim­si­cal wall mu­rals painted by Ferolla (who’s also a fash­ion il­lus­tra­tor known for his naughty Gal­lic-in­flu­enced sketches of long-limbed, désha­billé young ladies), and col­lec­tions of prime mid-20th-cen­tury fur­ni­ture are art­fully grouped in ev­ery space, metic­u­lously refurbished with ar­ti­sanal tex­tiles from pro­duc­ers Reina fea­tures at Chez Dédé. Floors are of rich ch­est­nut; bed linens are hand-em­broi­dered; bath­rooms are clad in sexy black sub­way tile, with brass- and nickel-edged bev­elled mir­rors and ameni­ties cre­ated for the ho­tel by the Franco-Le­banese cult per­fumer, Fran­cis Kurkd­jian.

It’s light years stylis­ti­cally from the dame up on the hill, to be sure; but the Ho­tel De’ Ricci, with its sur­pris­ing charms, has its own, highly orig­i­nal take on hos­pi­tal­ity alla ro­mana one that looks set to cre­ate an equally unique buzz. dorch­ester­col­lec­ hotelder­

Up here the thing is still That View: a 200-de­gree panorama over placid cupo­las, an­cient tem­ples and um­brella pines.

Clock­wise, the Ho­tel De’ Ricci’s lobby, break­fast on a bed­room ter­race, a bed­room with mu­ral by An­drea Ferolla, and the ho­tel bar

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