THIS SUMMER, THE 139 YEAR OLD ULTRA LUXURY JEWELRY HOUSE BULGARI LIFTED THE CURTAIN ON A NEW FIVE STAR RETREAT IN ITS FOUNDING CITY, MARKING THE NINTH INSTALLMENT IN ITS NAMESAKE RESORT COLLECTION
BY AMANDA McCOY
In 1884, a Greek born silversmith named Sotirois Voulgaris, who had previously immigrated to Rome with nothing more than a few cents to his name, launched a jewelry business. He titled it Bulgari, after the phonetic pronunciation of his last name. Over the next century and beyond, the humble house would grow into one of the world’s preeminent ultra luxury jewelers, nabbing notoriety from European nobility and Hollywood starlets like Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. Its classic symbols, from the snaking Serpenti to the piping Tobogas, appeared in countless blockbusters, from Cleopatra to King Kong.
In 2004, 120 years after the first Bulgari mold took shape, the LVMH owned brand embarked on a company first: a luxury hotel. Set in an 18th century palazzo in downtown Milan, the 58 room hideaway cast, with its 43,000 square foot garden, waves of wanderlust throughout the globe. Seven additional locales followed, anchored in prominent urban hubs like London, Tokyo, and Dubai, plus a dreamy jungle retreat in the far flung wonderland of Bali. This summer, the ninth installment opened its doors, one that holds a special significance for the iconic jewelry house, set in Bulgari’s founding city of Rome.
“We’ve been studying Rome since day one, waiting for the right building to materialize,” said Bulgari’s CEO Jean Christophe Babin. “Once we found this extraordinary location, it was a no brainer we did everything possible to secure it. As you can imagine there were a lot of competitors, but eventually we made it.”
Tucked in a seven story, Vittorio Ballio Morpurgo designed building on the edge of the famed Mausoleum of Augustus, an elaborate tomb and Imperial landmark erected in 28 BC by the Roman Emperor Augustus, the grand dame is located just minutes from the Spanish Steps, Via del Corso, and the Bulgari flagship on Via Condotti. Thoughtful homages to Rome’s venerable history are placed throughout the property, from the grand marble statue of Augustus in the front entrance vestibule to a panoply of original frescoes and mosaics restored by the Rome based design firm Studio Polis. Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel, the Italian heritage firm that’s led the building restoration and interior design for all Bulgari hotels, was tapped once again to steer the reimagining of the late 1930s building, erected during Italy’s fascist period.
The hotel features a grand stone facade that immediately melts into a warm bath of soothing hues and textures upon entering, featuring shades of white, yellow, gold, red, and green. Luxurious materials abound; ochre travertine marble and burnt red brick were generously employed to commemorate the storied legacy of the Eternal City. Additional ultra posh finishes include handcrafted marble mosaic roundels, custom made fabrics inspired by iconic Bulgari designed motifs, handcrafted Murano glass and lights, and original Ginori vases from the 1930s made by Gio Ponti.
There are 114 luxury rooms on site, including a collection of junior, superior, deluxe, and premium suites. If your pockets run deep enough, splurge for the floor through Bulgari Suite, a staggering $38,000 per night palace fit for a Roman emperor. Spectacular views of the Mausoleum of Augustus pour in from ten oversized windows. The interior stretches over 3,000 square feet and is cloaked in custom made wall fabrics by the storied Venetian brand Rubelli. It features a walk in closet, private kitchen and bar, a formal dining room (finished with a large marble table from the high end furniture maison Agapecasa), and a cavernous master spa bath room with a vanity corner, steam shower, and freestanding tub chiseled from a single block of arabesque Corchia marble.
Located adjacent to the grand foyer entrance, the Lobby Lounge serves afternoon tea, cocktails, and aperitifs surrounded by towering floor to ceiling black and white marble. There’s also an outdoor patio overlooking the famed piazza, sprinkled with rattan seating for enjoying a glass of Chianti Classico in the sun. Libations are also served in the Bulgari Bar, finished with a glossy black and white marble bartop, or the Champagne Bar, an intimate retreat inspired by the Roman tradition of garden frescoes. Sip rare Dom Pérignon vintages from a trolley amid hand paintings of lush leafy surrounds.
Once appetite strikes, book a reservation in the Michelin starred signature eatery Il Ristorante – Niko Romito, a staple of the Bulgari hotel brand. Rich mahogany walls and original artwork serve as the backdrop indoors, while sweeping vistas of the monumental tomb await from the fifth floor terrace. Resident chef Emilio Di Cristo masterfully reinterprets chef Niko’s feted Italian menu, featuring a la carte dishes like roasted tuna belly with fennel and citrus salad, Italian milk fed veal with tuna sauce, and linguine pasta with lobster and red prawns. There’s also a five course sharing menu for $120 per person.
The 16,000 square foot spa is exquisite, inspired by the millenniaold tradition of Roman baths. The swimming pool is studded with grand marble columns and anchored by green tinted glass that bathes the water in soft, ambient light. There are eight treatment rooms, plus an extra decadent spa suite finished with a green onyx bath. Work up a sweat in the state of the art fitness center before retreating to the pool to soak under shimmering mosaics. Here, days simply melt like butter on brioche but be sure to set an alarm for just before sunset, as the best views on the property are served at La Terrazza, the rooftop terrace that keeps watch over the Eternal City
Rooms begin around $2,000 per night.
Bulgari Hotel Roma