I have a confession to make. We have tickets booked to see the Sistine Chapel, but we’re struggling to find enthusiasm.
When in Rome, the Sistine Chapel is absolutely what you have to see. Some people wait their whole lives to see Michelangelo’s work found within its hallowed walls. It’s a cultural must, regarded as one of the major artistic accomplishments of human civilization.
And yet… the hotel swimming pool is beckoning. And its manicured gardens with Aleppo Pines are just so beautiful.
“Let’s have a quick dip and then we’ll go,” says my husband, clinking the ice in his glass and looking in no hurry to leave his lounger.
And what about the spa, I find myself thinking. There must be time for the spa. What with its hydro-massage pool the size of an ancient Roman bath, interior waterfall and steam rooms.
“We’ll catch a quick something from the Imperial Club too,” I add. It would be foolish not to. What with that panoramic view over Rome from its balcony and the complimentary champagne and afternoon buffet they invite you to sample.
“Just as long as you don’t fall asleep in that bed on the way out,” agrees my husband, which he’s right to worry about. I’d already lain down there briefly and fallen into a dream state across swathes of thread-counted cotton and feather mattress toppers.
Rome Cavalieri is perched on Monte Mario, a hill on the outskirts of the Eternal City, which gives it both views and 15 acres of spacious gardens, woodlands, tennis courts and swimming pools to get lost in. It’s a twenty-minute taxi drive into town, which if you are hoping to make the Sistine Chapel as well as laze by the pool all afternoon makes things a little tight.
It’s also something of a curiosity. Firstly, the hotel is an American-style resort which is almost unheard of in an ancient European city. Secondly, it is decorated in such an abundance of gold leaf, marble and gilt, that some might question its rather ostentatious taste.
But then you learn that the collection of art which adorns the walls on every floor, is both museum-worthy and priceless; that its La Pergola restaurant is the only establishment in Rome to carry three Michelin stars, that its spa is the most extensive that this travel writer has ever seen.
That’s when you remember that the ancient Romans practically invented luxury living. Their bacchanalian feasts, art and love for leisure were renowned across Europe more than two thousand years ago, so this hotel with all its of its gild-edged luxury is simply carrying on an authentic, age-old tradition, as Italian as pasta.
Questionable taste, however, is the couple on sun-loungers by the pool who went all the way to Rome and didn’t see The Sistine Chapel.
Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel has won dozens of awards for being a travellers’ favourite, and most recently a Green Key certification for environmental responsibility. Prices start from $570 Australian dollars or 390 euros. https://romecavalieri.com