I first stayed at Rome’s Hotel Eden some 35 years ago. Situated at the top of the steep hillside that rises from the Piazza di Spagna, it is famous for its roof terrace, from which there is an extraordinary panoramic view that encompasses nearly all of the city’s principal landmarks. I have long had a soft spot for the Eden — not least because of its peaceful location away from the tourists who throng the Spanish Steps and the Piazza del Popolo — even though the hotel declined over recent years and became more an object of nostalgia than admiration. However, it was recently acquired by the Dorchester Collection and in April, after a 17-month hiatus, it reopened following a complete refurbishment. Its 98 rooms and suites are now superbly well-appointed, and the public areas (including a brand new spa) are gleaming. Two rooftop restaurants provide contrasting menus and atmospheres, and I’m pleased to say, the terrace is as spectacular as ever.
On this trip to Rome I also stayed at J.K. Place Roma, an exceptionally stylish boutique hotel with an interior created by the brilliant Florentine designer, Michele Bönan. Conveniently located near the city’s principal shopping streets, including the Via Condotti, the 30-room property is a civilized and private enclave, with peerlessly comfortable accommodations, lavish marble baths and a delightful casual restaurant, J.K. Café, which offers a menu of delicious comfort food, including the JKBurger made with Fassone beef from Piedmont.
From Rome, I took a high-speed train first to Florence and then to Venice. The principal object of my journey was to stay in the San Clemente Palace Kempinski, set on a 17-acre private island in the Venetian Lagoon, about 15 minutes by speedboat from the Piazza San Marco. The 190-room property has recently been reinvented by the Geneva-based hotel group and it now provides a glamorous and tranquil refuge, which may even provide a little competition for the otherwise unassailable Belmond Hotel Cipriani.