Hotel de Russie – The Secret Garden in the heart of Rome

You immediately know the Hotel de Russie is a slick operation the moment you step into its lobby.

This icon of the Rocco Forte hotel group is situated in the heart of Rome between the Spanish Steps and the Piazza del Popolo. The approach to the luxury 5 star residence is along the Via del Bambuino – a paradise of high end boutiques, antique stores and art galleries.

On entry, we were whisked smoothly to the reception desk where we are signed in with no fuss by desk staff who put you instantly at ease. It’s a seriously relaxed environment – lots of soft colours, wood, leather and muted lighting – but we’re then guided towards the main attraction that sets this hotel apart.

You could almost hear the fanfare as we stroll into the glorious ‘Secret Garden’. A multi-tiered affair that cascades down towards you and takes your breath away at first sight complete with palm trees, water features galore and even a grotto straight out of a fairy-tale. We immediately set off to explore the many terraces and steps as we cooled down after a hard day’s travelling. It was hard to pull ourselves away when we were informed that our room was now ready.

The rooms are suitably sumptuous with plenty of space for you to enjoy. Again they use muted lighting and soft colours which makes for a contemporary relaxed ambience. We were given a generous and comfortable suite that overlooked the tiered garden. The service here is exceptional – our little girl was worried as her extra bed was not made up when we first arrived but after lunch the sofa bed had been magically transformed into a suitably grand bed for one complete with teddy to cuddle up to and all.

Understandably everything about the hotel revolves around the central gardens. This is a built up area of Rome and to have such a paradise to escape from the summer heat is unique. The hotel building itself is wrapped around the gardens and so many rooms get their own view of this so rare of green spaces. The garden hosts the hotel’s restaurant, Le Jardin de Russie. It is also houses the Stravinskij Bar in the spring and summer where you can have a quiet drink or catch DJ sets at weekends. Different areas have been cleverly designed to feel like country pagoda, contemporary club lounge, relaxed eatery for both breakfast and lunch, or garden retreat.

Lunch was a relaxed but refined affair. Again we sat on one of the levels that formed part of the tiered gardens. The hotel itself, though clearly on the luxury end of the market, does not feel stiff or restrictive. It is all very relaxed and friendly. Kids are encouraged to run around and explore the gardens for themselves. Our two children invented a monster game and were chasing each other around as we finished our own lunches. I was recommended to try the mixed fish dish which was cooked on a griddle and plated in front of me. No complex sauces, just the freshness of the cuts of fish allowed this dish to shine. It hit the spot for me much to the delight of the head waiter. It’s a great place for people watching – guests like to invite colleagues and friends to lunch here and you can see them marvel and exclaim in many different languages as they take in the scene. Another member has been introduced to the charms of The Secret Garden. A century ago the hotel was loved by modernist artists and poets and keeps that link with Mapplethorpe photography adorning its walls, although nowadays you’re more likely to spot one Hollywood’s finest hiding out amongst the palms.

We ate out in the evening and arrived back at the hotel with the kids armed with some of Rome’s finest ice-cream. The garden illuminated with lighting on each level looked totally magical. The bar and restaurant were humming with laid back chatter and the garden with its flowing streams and fountains was ours alone to enjoy. We took found a peaceful spot as the children polished off their chocolate and raspberry scoops and we indulged in a nightcap. There were people enjoying the lower levels but the atmosphere was so relaxed our spot amongst the flowers and running water felt like our own little sanctum.

The Hotel De Russie and its secret Garden was a revelation. A green oasis amongst the heat and bustle of central Rome. It’s a stone’s throw way from the Spanish Steps and all the action (it will come high on searches for ” hotels near Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain “) but a world away as you sip your drink surrounded by palm trees and murmuring fountains.

For more information visit the Hotel de Russie


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