Grand Hotel de la Minerva
Pantheon Piazza, central Rome. 4-star hotel. 2 nights.
The building retains 17th-century splendor in its thick walls, ornate ceilings and marble pillars, but this hotel peppers its common areas, and all of its guest quarters, with strong contemporary elements. This hotel is subtly modern, not edgy, done in a warm classic fashion. The adeptly staffed reception area opens to a graceful atrium lounge with an impressive stained-glass ceiling that will entice Tiffany followers. The lounge has chic new sofas and club chairs with a few understated contemporary lines. It is a fine place to relax when the harpist plays in the afternoon.
La Cesta Restaurant displays elegant traditional decor in cream and teal tones. The Roman and international fare is well-regarded, expensive and deftly served. The comfortable piano bar sits under a dome that mimics the Pantheon's. The spacious, seasonal roof terrace is a highlight, offering service and stunning nighttime panoramas. It boasts rear views of the Pantheon and equally impressive straight-on sweeps of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and Bernini's imaginative elephantine sculpture.
The guest rooms beautifully blend subtle traditional and bolder contemporary accents in powder-blue, teal and tan color schemes. Amenities include crisp air-conditioning, well-lit work areas, phones with voice mail and data ports, wireless Internet access (mostly fee), flat-screen WebTVs, minibars and safes. Magnifying mirrors, hair dryers and good toiletry kits are standard. Room service operates 16 hours a day. There is a small fitness center.