Jocelyn Yih

The St. Regis Rome

Jocelyn Yih
The St. Regis Rome

Take it as an extravagant, grand postcard from Rome.

During my Summer holidays, I spent the last week of July in Italy visiting two cities that I've always wanted to - Rome and Milan. Prior to visiting, I didn't really think much about the difference between the cities. Though one may foolishly talk oneself into the fact that Milan potentially can be the natural capital - it is the fashion capital, nevertheless; the streets and attractions of Rome were much more monumental - so rich with history that it really satisfied what Italy is Italy to me, and everything I hoped it could be.

Though one large differentiation between the two cities in Italy is the section of hotels. Surprisingly, Milan felt more up-to-date and more in-the-know. Larger hotel groups invest in Milan  as it is the hub for Italy's financial, fashion and industrial sectors. Taking in the fact that the perfectly circular colosseum is also imperfectly surrounded by tourist traps - there's a common fear when it comes to restaurant and hotel searching in Rome; mainly because of the fact there's nothing worse than booking up some local Italian hotel (which will look like the Italian dream from the images on their website) but then getting disappointed in real life - in other words, not quite bellissima.

The result of searching for 'La Dolce Vita' or, as advertised as the slogan, 'The Most Unforgettable Roman Holiday' is my option to settle with large hotel chain companies (for reliability's sake). The St. Regis Rome. Nestled in an aristocratic landmark building, steps away (actually 'up way' if at all possible, Rome is not flat) from the city centre. The Trevi Fountain is supposed to be 'within walking distance', though I did find myself happily lost in the streets due to the persistent search of gelato during my week in Italy; Educating myself Italian by gelato flavours and to turn down any ice cream shop in the future (it won't happen) because it isn't 'real gelato'.

The history of the building dates back as long as the 5-star service can be remembered since the birth of the St. Regis brand. During the late 19th century and late 20th century, the Roman upper class didn't have a common place to hold large, public parties. It wasn't until César Ritz's expansion of his legacy to Rome did Rome have an entertainment venue with professional staff to take care of the guests of parties of such scale. César did, after all, work his way from waiter to hotel tycoon. So who would know how to host parties better than him? 

Even simply by stepping foot into the hotel would you realise the aristocracy and rich history of the hotel. The hotel was the first of its kind to be technological where at the time of its birth, was built an original lift (one of the oldest in Europe) that is still used by guests nowadays. Every room has a unique identity, a name, and is tailored for a specific clientele. Bespoke service has always been offered by the signature St. Regis butler service, should you need anything from moving in unpacking assistance to customised room preparations. This service roots back to when Colonel John Jacob Astor IV debuted The St. Regis New York with the vision to create the finest hotel in the world. Butlers are rare nowadays as they are costly and moreover appear excessive; though I am a man of traditions and so believe this personal service works really well with the many luxuries these hotels offer. 

If there was one thing worth mentioning from my trip in Italy, it would be Fresco - a technique in painting an artwork directly onto the walls. This technique was used initially in the Renaissance period, however the vault of the Ritz Ballroom were actually by Mario Spinetti, a member of the Association of Roman water-colourists in the late 19th century. He copied the technique of fresco painting and created themes for paintings that represented the mythological lives of the Romans - from grape harvesting to hunting scenes. What is more amazing is the fact that you'll see paintings, each worthy of exclamation, everywhere around the hotel. It's rich merge of a palace and a museum from its stuccos adorned staircase to the glittering Murano chandeliers. 

If you can't book in time, then plan a visit to Le Grand Bar for the signature Bloody Mary as of the King Cole Bar of St. Regis New York. The legacy of service continues.

To be continued... #tbc