St. Regis Grand, Rome
This opulent 19th-century landmark palace opened by César Ritz and designed by architect Giulio Podesti, a 10-minute walk from the Via Veneto, made the most of its $35 million restoration in 2007. Guests step into a luxurious haven, with hand-painted frescoes forming dramatic backdrops to tufted guest-room headboards, 24-hour “e-butler” service, and chandeliers made from handblown Murano glass. The 161 ravishing rooms feature décor from the Italo-Franco Louis XVI, Regency, and Empire periods and furniture evocative of the Mediterranean’s regal lineage from all eras; expect rich velvets, inlaid woods, carved marble, and fine Pratesi linens. Bathrooms come with travertine marble and Laura Tonatto toiletries, while the on-site health club (accessed via the hotel’s original wrought-iron elevator) is state of the art. If dining in, book a table in the cozy wine cellar of the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, Vivendo.
Insider Tip: Even if you’re not a guest, you can still enjoy a glass of Prosecco in the opulent bar, Le Grand Hall.
Room to Book: For the best value, a regal Superior. For the best service and setup, any room on the St. Regis floor. For modern luxury, the airy three-bedroom Bottega Veneta Suite with fireplace (unveiled in 2007).
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.