Take one stroll around the Eternal City and you’ll understand – it’s almost as if Rome was designed with lovers in mind. The place lives and breathes romance like nowhere else on earth. Yes, there are some typical tourist-magnet hot-spots – we frequently fall prey to street vendors forcing single red roses on us – but it’s hard not to succumb to the vibe all the same.
From the Colosseum to the Trevi Fountain, not forgetting the Basilica of St Peter, every famous site we see here leaves us feeling as if the spectacle can’t be topped. But then we walk around the corner and stumble across yet another beautiful hidden chapel, and we’re amazed all over again.
With so much beauty around, the air of decadence is inescapable. We’ve found it in abundance at the Baglioni Hotel Regina on the fashionable Via Veneto. The former home of Queen Margherita of Savoy, the Baglioni still retains an aura of regal elegance thanks to its lavish art deco design – think Murano glass chandeliers in the lobby, grand marble colonnades framing the staircase and a heraldic brass statue in the reception.
Upstairs, the hotel brims with seductive opulence. The rooms have a boudoir vibe, clad in silk wall coverings, drenched in luxurious satin and velvet, and tempered with cool, clean-cut marble bathrooms. Look out the windows and you see amazing views across Rome’s terracotta rooftops.
These seriously good vistas are thanks to the Baglioni’s impeccable location. A five-minute amble takes us to the shady groves of the Villa Borghese gardens, where we stroll around the beautiful lake before sitting with gelato to soak up the mesmerising cityscape.
Head in the other direction for 10 minutes and you arrive at the iconic Spanish Steps, leading down to the buzzing Via Condotti area, where fashionable Romans spend their time drinking in chic enotecas.
We go for a sundowner at Stravinskij Bar in the nearby atmospheric courtyard of the Hotel de Russie – a secluded spot aglow with candlelight beneath the manicured terraced gardens. Can it get any more romantic?
Later on during our stay, we pitch up at a table opposite the Pantheon for lunch, and are suddenly treated to an impromptu opera performance in the square. In Rome, being serenaded as you enjoy a delicious dish of pasta is nothing more than the norm.
This special charm continues outside the city. In search of some sea air, we take a 45-minute drive to La Posta Vecchia, a 19-room boutique hotel built on the site of a former Roman villa (there are some breathtaking mosaics in the cellar to prove it). Back in the 17th century, Prince Orsini built his own private palace here, and later it became billionaire John Paul Getty’s holiday home. Now it’s part of the Leading Hotels of the World group, and you can see why. La Posta Vecchia’s location is phenomenal – look over the edge of the sunny terrace and you’re gazing straight down into clear sea.
While panoramic views are a big draw, people come to this coastal corner for another reason. The clue is in the name of the hotel, which means ‘the old place’ – this region has a history richer than the creamiest of carbonaras. Alongside the subterranean mosaics, you’ll find an underground museum packed with Roman artifacts. Ask nicely at reception and they’ll organise a candlelit dinner for you down there encircled by the atmospheric ruins. A private table on the beach can also be arranged, where you’re surrounded by nothing but unrestricted views of the endless blue horizon.
In fact, the whole hotel feels like it’s set up to spoil you. From the moment we awake, indulgence is the order of the day. At breakfast, we have slices of gianduja (a classier version of solid Nutella) to accompany our cappuccinos, the kind of treat you’d rarely allow yourself at home. Dinner is equally decadent – we feast on Sicilian prawns, which are of such high quality that we eat them raw, washed down with a perfectly paired Italian wine.
The hotel’s private beach is overlooked by the neighbouring castle; the black sand is lapped by water so clear you can spot fish darting in and out of the rocks below. We spend our time watching fishermen perched on the wall as little planes fly overhead.
We muster the energy to ride the hotel’s vintage-style bicycles into the town of Ladispoli. It’s not the same as arriving on a Vespa like Audrey Hepburn, but as we weave our way through dappled sunlight below the trees, we feel the love for our Roman holiday.