THANKS TO A PAINSTAKING AND COSTLY RENOVATION TO RECREATE ITS TIMELESS GLAMOUR, THE ST. REGIS ROME IS BACK, REINTERPRETING CLASSICISM THROUGH LIGHTS AND COLORS. The first public ballroom in Rome was in the Grand Hotel, which Monsieur César Ritz opened on 11 January 1894, bringing a trend to Italy from the major European capitals: that of sumptuous hotels ready to welcome the first wave of tourists and local high society. The facility was designed by the Roman architect Giulio Podesti, and featured frescos by Mario Spinetti showing eight scenes of rural life and mythology. It has taken six months for Pierre-Yves Rochon, in charge of the restoration of the hotel that has been known as the St. Regis Rome for twenty years, to reopen the Salone Ritz to guests. «Restoration is completely different from creating a new project. You have to work with what already exists. Especially in a protected heritage space like the Ballroom, where my contribution was limited to the lighting and the fabrics», the interior designer explains. Above all in the lobby, the extensive renovation has simply revealed the original charm. «When I saw the hotel for the first time I thought: there is something wrong with the layout», Rochon says. The place seemed dark and dusty, but at the same time its real luxury was a matter of space. «The first impression is the entrance, and then you want to know where is the reception, the lobby, how to get to your room», he explains. Conserving the entrance, Rochon has eliminated the double doors and corridor leading to the lounge. «In the lobby, after alterations made in the 1980s, there were different levels for dining, breakfast and drinks, making life difficult for the staff and blocking the view. I have tried to go back to the past, when the lobby was actually a courtyard». Today it is like a large piazza where people meet and watch others, with an accent on circulation. Under a gigantic Murano glass chandelier, the space is bordered by columns and arches with complicated handmade decorations. The Lounge & Bar, to the left, is a convivial zone featuring a fireplace clad in black marble. Marble, bronze and travertine are the selected materials. The colors pay homage to the Roman tradition – black, gold, silver, terracotta, Pompeii red, but also blue with a touch of yellow, «which is not cold, and not even Roman, but links back to the original intentions of César Ritz», the allure of hotels in Paris and London at the turn of the century. The 138 guestrooms have been refurbished with custom pieces. The 23 suites have been conservatively restored, including the Bottega Veneta suite, part of the hotel since 2007, now redesigned using items from the Home Collection of the brand.