A little more than a coin’s toss from the Fountain of the Pantheon is one of Rome’s grand dames; the palatial Minerva Hotel. Named after the Roman Goddess of Wisdom, this former 17th century mansion sets the scene for a classic stay in the Italian capital. Spacious rooms and an elegant ambiance are enhanced by the property’s standout feature – its Minerva Roof Garden, an all-season, all-weather restaurant and terrace that offers spell-binding views across the skyline of one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
Swing open the shutters and windows of one’s guest room and the chances are you will have one of the most notable views in Rome – that of the Pantheon, a colossal piece of living Roman history in the centre of the Eternal City. This former Roman temple, dating back some 2,000 years is right there, less than 100 metres from the hotel. With an undoubtedly exceptional location, from where you can walk to most of the sights, this classic property offers guests a genuine Roman experience.
The impressive Pantheon is metres away, whilst the lively Piazza Navona, the recently renovated Trevi Fountain as well as the Spanish Steps are all very easily reached on foot. It has to be one of the finest locations to enjoy the historic centre of Rome.
The hotel opens directly onto a small square, the Piazza de la Minerve, which has at its centre a Bernini obelisk held up by an elephant; it’s a charming corner of Rome, and escapes the throngs of visitors that crowd the nearby Pantheon Square. Restaurants, bars and some classic coffee bars are all in the neighbourhood. It was a pleasure to wake early, and head out onto the cobbled streets as the city was waking, before the other tourists had emerged – it is the privilege of having Rome at your feet. I visited one of the nearby coffee bars for an authentic caffè macchiato, before experiencing the Pantheon as it opened – in tranquility.
What’s more, apart from the odd taxi and scooter, this area is predominantly pedestrianised, so you have the feeling of being a timeless part of Rome, with romantic scenes of cobbled squares, fountains, obelisks and a skyline of spires and domes.
Taxis from the airport are available at a fixed price, and they can take you straight to the entrance of the property, where uniformed doorman in traditional capes and hats will escort you to reception.
As one of Rome’s grand dames, expect the look and feel of a Grand Hotel. Although the property has been updated in the last few decades, the Grand Hotel de la Minerve maintains a traditional, old school feel – and there’s certainly plenty of charm in that. One can imagine the hotel during the era of the Grand Tour, playing host to the privileged of the time.
Service from front desk, the concierge and the bar was attentive, formal yet friendly – in keeping with the ambiance and style of the hotel.
The main public space is the huge lobby atrium which has a magnificent stained glass ceiling. This is because this was originally the winter garden, when the property was a private mansion. It is home to a striking stature of the Goddess of Minerve, part of the mansions private collection of artworks.
In the evenings as you enter the classic atrium lobby a pianist will be playing, creating an elegant atmosphere for enjoying a negroni aperitif in the Le Cupole Bar, before heading out for an evening in the Eternal City.
There is no spa or pool, but the hotel offers a fitness room, although I couldn’t find it.
The 135 guest rooms are available in 6 room types, from Classic, Superior, Deluxe, Grand Deluxe, Junior Suite and then the four Presidential style suites.
I had a Grand Deluxe room, overlooking the Minerva Square and the Pantheon. Although the website suggests that a Grand Deluxe rooms is up to 35 square metres, it feels much larger. Really, for a city-centre hotel the room was positively cavernous. I felt very comfortable in the room; it was a space you wanted to enjoy, to kick back in and relax – I loved just leaving the windows opening and listening to the gentle soundtrack of Rome’s city life passing on below.
The entrance vestibule and corridor give a sensation of entering a small apartment, with the dressing room on the right (with security safe etc.) and the bathroom on the left and then leading into the elegantly furnished room.
A welcome amenity of a bottle of red wine was on the desk, whilst by the bed complimentary still and sparkling mineral water was offered.
An additional gift included a smart black tote bag and a Bulgari bathroom bag – nce touch.
The Wi-Fi was also complimentary and performed well.
I have to say when staying in a 5 star hotel, I much prefer it when amenities such as water and Wi-Fi are included – being charged extra always feels a little uncomfortable.
There was the requisite in-room bar and also a TV with Pay-to-View/Listen services.
The highlight of the room was without doubt the view from the windows. Seeing the dome of the Pantheon was truly memorable and made the stay in the city all the more special.
The room had a striking robust period ceiling of solid wood, which was the most notable feature of the space; the décor was unremarkable but elegant. There was everything one could need, from a desk with chairs, sofa, and a very large, comfortable super king sized bed.
My room was close to the elevator, so check that when you room is allocated as the sound of the lift was noticeable during the night.
The bathroom was classic marble with bath and shower and generously sized bath and body products by Etro. The space felt ever so slightly dated, yet very well maintained and presented with all the amenities one might expect from a 5 star hotel.
Turn-down was provided without the need to request it and included a gift of a small box of chocolates.
The Minerva Roof Garden is the hotel’s greatest asset. Open for lunch and dinner, serving Italian, Mediterranean, and international cuisine, the terrace is divided between the outside and inside spaces, so whatever the temperature one can enjoy those seductive views of the spires and domes of Rome. So allow lots of time to eat, as you’ll want to linger over lunch and dawdle over dinner.
During my winter visit, breakfast was also served on the roof terrace which made for a memorable start to the day.
Le Cupole Bar
Designed by Paolo Portoghesi, the bar has art deco touches providing a stylish environment for enjoying classic Roman aperitifs. During my winter visit, this was the social heart of the hotel – in summer I imagine everything moves up to the glorious roof terrace for open air summer cocktails and dining.
In all, The Grand Hotel de la Minerve is at the heart of Rome’s heady mix of history – a grand dame offering classic accommodation with attentive service.
Address: Piazza de la Minerva, 69 (Centro Storico) 00186 – Roma, Italia
Tel: +39 06 69520