At first mention, I was taken by the concept behind The First Luxury Art Hotel Roma — a boutique hotel featuring contemporary pieces by local artists — and especially so in a city like Rome, with its awesome legacy of sculpture, painting and other visual art. And after staying there with my 11-year-old daughter Natasha, I’m not sure I can characterize it any other way: We are fans.
As you open the tall glass door (or, correction, as it is opened for you!) that leads into the front hall of The First Hotel, as it’s called for short, you leave the bustling, vibrant energy of the city of Rome. In its place emerges an environment that feels like a cocoon of safety and privacy, with an air of calm, quiet serenity.
The decor is modern, with fresh, clean lines, and almost every wall is white to serve as a backdrop to the formidable collection of contemporary art that the space houses.
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It soon becomes clear that what makes the space special is the eclectic mix of sculpture, paintings and mixed-media pieces tucked into every corner and gracing every available wall. The collection is curated by a local modern art gallery, Galleria Mucciaccia, and rotates periodically. When we arrived, there was an absolutely stunning piece titled Mahatma Gandhi by Francesca Leone in the hallway to the elevator, but before we had ended our stay, it had sold and been shipped off to its new home. We were grateful to have had the chance to experience it up close and personal, but honestly sorry to see it go.
In the pass-through to the reception area, we encountered a small sculpture called Man in Charge by Danilo Bucchi, by which we were equally impressed and even entertained. Pieces throughout the space by Camilla Ancilotto called to us as well. Her playful work features three-sided blocks that can be rotated to create varying images.
In addition, a gorgeous, sleek golden bronze by Oliviero Rainaldi adorned a vestibule in the foyer and the work of plenty of other artists caught our eye, including Max Ciogli, Riccardo Monachesi, Cristiano Pintaldi, Maurizio Savini, Mauro di Silvestre and Gabriele Simei.
The First Hotel is tucked away on a side street near Piazza del Popolo, or the People’s Square. We could walk easily to the Spanish Steps, which one of our guides told us was the “ancient Tinder” — a place where single people went to see and be seen, hoping to find a partner. With the crowd of tourists and street vendors hawking toys in that area, we were glad for a home base somewhat removed from the scene but convenient nonetheless. The only caveat: Our cabs home late in the day had to circle around the piazza according to the direction of traffic, adding a few minutes to our ride.
Each room and suite is carefully decorated with a compilation of works by a particular local artist. Our suite was dedicated to the creativity of Francesca Pinzari. We were taken by the unique nature of her work, which included horse-themed pieces as well as innovative self-portraits.
The hotel offers a number of suites that are well-suited to families and can sleep four to five. Certain suites connect as well, which allows two families traveling together, or a multigenerational group, to stay in conveniently close quarters. Some suites even provide a private terrace with whirlpool tub, a real luxury.
Certain rooms boast bathtubs, irrespective of category. Our large bathroom, with its immersive rain shower, dark marble and Hollywood vibe, had us feeling pampered.
We found the suites much cozier (in a good way) than they appear on the hotel website. The rich draperies and soft upholstery create a plush environment that’s inviting to kids and adults alike.
At every turn, the service at the hotel was efficient, friendly and spot-on, in keeping with the property’s 5-star rating. We enjoyed the beautiful spread every morning in the quiet breakfast room, along with eggs or pancakes cooked to order. Drinks, appetizers and dinner are all served at Acquaroof, the rooftop bar and restaurant, which offers breathtaking views of the city as night falls and darkness surrounds.
Overall, for families who seek to expose their kids to contemporary art within an oasis of casual luxury — and in a convenient location to boot — The First Luxury Art Hotel Roma just might be a perfect fit.
Editor’s Note: The First Luxury Art Hotel Roma provided a media package in order for us to review the property for families. As always, all opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Katherine Hubbard.
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