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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Executive travel: A Roman gem that offers opulence and fine dining

Cavalieri Wardorf Astoria is home to masterpieces from one of Italy’s largest privately owned art collections - and the hotel is huge

La Pergola at Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. Courtesy Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
La Pergola at Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. Courtesy Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria

The hilltop Rome Cavalieri Wardorf Astoria boasts Europe’s largest luxury conference centre in its basement, magnificent panoramic views over the Eternal City and a world-class art collection.

Indeed, this hotel can accommodate a total of 5,500 delegates in its 28 meeting rooms that seat from 2,100 to eight people.

VIP Reception Desk at Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. Courtesy Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
VIP Reception Desk at Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. Courtesy Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria

The Dubai World Government Summit, the nearest the Middle East has to the Davos’ World Economic Forum, could easily be swallowed up in this vast subterranean complex that has its own entrance so that the hotel guests above are not disturbed.

Yet go two floors up in the elevator and you are greeted by the serene elegance of the 1963-vintage hotel lobby, straight from the heyday of La Dolce Vita and the go-go years of Italian post-war expansion.

Concierge Desk with Zais painting at Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. Courtesy Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
Artworks at Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. Courtesy Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria

Here you can see masterpieces from one of Italy’s largest privately owned art collections, including three canvasses by Giovanni Battista Tieplo, tapestries, antique furniture and fine sculptures.

During my stay a London law firm and the IT giant Infosys were holding events on the lobby floor where several smaller meeting rooms are situated.

Original artworks feature in all 345 rooms and 25 suites of this property which is perched on top of Rome’s highest hill, Monte Mario. The only downside to this location is a 20 minute free shuttle bus or taxi ride to get to its historic centre and luxury shops.

Staircase at Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. Courtesy Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
Staircase at Rome Cavalieri.

But this is a full resort hotel and you need never go out; no other property in Rome can match its facilities, including the city’s largest spa; indoor and outdoor swimming pools; and a serious TechoGym with six running, four cycling and three stepper machines.

There are also two floodlit Davis Cup tennis courts; and a 800-metre fitness trail within the hotel’s 15-acre Mediterranean gardens. The only thing missing was an ATM.

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Try the Imperial rooms on the seventh and eight floors for a boutique hotel within a hotel. You also have the only true executive club lounge available in Rome.

It provides snacks and drinks in a newly refurbished lounge, and a private balcony with city views. I sat next to a group of Italian film producers from Hollywood discussing their latest movies.

La Pergola at Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. Courtesy Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
La Pergola.

My 50 square metre, €605 (Dh2,498)-a-night room was in striking classical style, even if the decor was a little tired and the door to the marble bathroom did not close; still the view from the balcony was incredible.

The internet clocked an impressive 9.75 Mbps and six plugs catered to every type of international standard, albeit the room’s desk was rather small.

Napoleon Suite bathroom at Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. Courtesy Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
Napoleon Suite bathroom.

For a truly great desk you should take the Napoleon Suite which has one of the emperor’s own as well as other original artworks and furniture of that period.

Both the Penthouse and Planetarium Suites have private 200 square metre terraces with hot tubs and superb views of St Peter’s Basilica and the Rome skyline; book the Penthouse and you get Andy Warhol’s iconic Dollar Signs series on the wall, easily worth north of $100 million.

Room service was not cheap either: €23 for a Pizza Margherita; €10 for Coke and €7 for Acqua Panna. The hotel’s Uliveto restaurant was better value with hearty Mediterranean and international dishes served on the stylish pool terrace, if the season allows.

Breakfast at L'Ulliveto at Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. Courtesy Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
Breakfast at L'Ulliveto.

However, head to the top floor for the ultimate experience, La Pergola, the only three Michelin-star restaurant in Rome by celebrity chef Heinz Beck, a distinction it has held for seven consecutive years.

As you would expect the service in the Rome Cavalieri is quite exceptional, with great attention to detail, and it made what is a huge hotel feel more homely than you might imagine.

Art Gallery with guests at Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria. Courtesy Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
Art Gallery at Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria.

Guests at this level can be very demanding and clearly handling business meetings and events on this scale requires the highest management skills and diplomacy. Nobody let the team down while I was watching.

For an executive conference big or small this is the top choice in Rome, and its quiet out-of-town location is ideal to concentrate minds, while the city itself can be rather stressful.

The writer was a guest of the hotel