Story by Barbara Penny Angelakis
Photography by Manos Angelakis
Via Cavour, 184
Hotels like people have a personality. Some awe you with their outward trappings and trendy style; some seem unapproachable with glamorous and costly objet d’art; some use historical reference to excuse shabby décor; some are off-putting with attitude; and some are welcoming and comfortable right from the start, striking just the right cord of style, artifact, history and pride. Such is the Bettoja owned Hotel Mediterraneo, a short walk from the railroad station on Via Cavour in Rome.
A corner entrance with a small circular driveway thoughtfully shelters you from the hectic Roman traffic allowing you to alight from cab or car without fear of being knocked over by a speeding vehicle or motorbike. A uniformed doorman immediately handles your luggage to prevent loss or damage from the busy street scene and ushers you into a stylized lobby that is authentic Déco Rationalism dating from 1942 when the hotel first opened its doors. The Bettoja family owns and operates the Mediterraneo along with several other hotels both in Rome and Florence but the Mediterraneo is their flagship. They are currently the largest family owned chain in Italy with the fifth generation carrying on the tradition of excellence begun so long ago.
We were enthusiastically greeted by Claudio Garbo the Director of the Mediterraneo who offered to tell us about the hotel once we had settled into our extravagant suite. The lush fabrics and antique furnishings were warmly inviting in the generous sized sitting/bedroom. The entry hall hid a walk-in closet - with en-suite safe and built-in shelves for luggage storage - behind a velvet curtain which was separated from the main room by an colonnaded partition. Frette fine linens covered the king sized bed which faced a small balcony with an impressive view of the city and the Vatican in the distance. A full mirrored wall hid another closet and the door to the bathroom which looked to still have its original fixtures that had been perfectly maintained. Of course there was an LG satellite flat screen TV with international channels, wireless internet access, air conditioning, etc., all the amenities you would expect from a luxury establishment.
After seeing our suite we were anxious to learn more about this lovely property and so returned to the lobby to meet Claudio for a tour. We could not have asked for a better guide. Knowledgeable and filled with pride, Claudio has been with the Bettoja family for years and is in step with their philosophy built over 125 years in the hospitality business. Renovate and modernize but always maintain the old-style personalized service reminiscent of a bygone age when hotel stays were an extension of the gracious living enjoyed at home by the traveling upper classes.
In today’s world, that translates to helpful and friendly service from the staff, clean rooms and nightly turndown service, courtesy in providing directions or recommendations for sightseeing or dining outside the hotel and a warm welcome on returning to the hotel. The one exception to the usual friendly service was the somewhat harried wait staff during breakfast which by the way offered a bountiful array of treats in the nautically inspired room. Wonderful carved oak tritons and mermaids grace the walls while a gorgeous green tile floor, wall inserts, and massive chandeliers advance the theme.
As we toured the hotel’s striking lobby Claudio explained that all the furniture, including the upholstered as well as woodwork or glass, was original; that on-sight artisans keep a vigilant eye on wear and tear and immediately take an offending item in for repair. There is an imposing marble fireplace with lacquered wood rise overlooking the main lobby and at 5:30p.m. daily during the cooler months a fire is lit and guests are treated to live piano music and a singer. And what historic hotel would be complete without afternoon tea offered in the lobby daily at 3 p.m. Of course for the more robust imbiber, there is a lobby bar or if one prefers, drinks can be delivered to the plush lobby seating. Leaving the lobby Claudio took us to the magnificent 10-floor internal Carrera Marble cantilevered staircase with black marble balustrade, which is not only a marvel of engineering but a work of art that most guests rarely get to see. They do however see the matched satinwood panels in the elevators and the extra-high ceilings and myriad of patterns on the hardwood floors throughout the building. The Mediterraneo is one of the few hotels that go that extra step for the comfort of their guests and have double entry doors on all of their 251 rooms and 7 suites, effectively canceling any hallway noises that could disturb their rest. And speaking of comfort, I had a stress relieving massage at the in-house spa which offers a variety of services for the weary traveler.
The Mediterraneo has a crowning glory and that is it’s roof garden. It is handsomely appointed and a perfect venue for weddings and celebrations for small groups up to 75 persons. The garden extends out from a charming restaurant decorated to evoke a gardenscape. It is opened for all but the colder months and offers a 180 degree view of Rome which is beautiful during the day and a sight to behold when illuminated at night.
© January 2010 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.