Roman Holiday: Living La Dolce Vita at the Westin Excelsior

Image: Justin M. Duren

 

Located just a few minutes’ walk away from the stunning Spanish Steps and around the corner from the idyllic Borghese Gardens, the Westin Excelsior hotel is perfectly situated amongst Rome’s winding walkways and cobbled streets, holding center stage on the world-famous Via Veneto. Long before Dean Martin, in between sips of whisky and whimsy, warbled his words to the famous 1963 song of the same name, this iconic Italian thoroughfare with the melodious title had already become synonymous with swank and style throughout the western world. Statesmen and celebrities, artists and intellectuals, every who that was a who visited this beautiful boulevard. They still do today. And we have the Westin Excelsior to thank for the Via Veneto’s princely renown and platinum reputation.

 

Image: Justin M. Duren

 

Back in 1906, the year construction on this gorgeous hotel property was completed, the Via Veneto was but a quaint suburban carriageway connecting the city to the surrounding Roman countryside. Construction of the hotel was considered a large gamble, despite the stunning hilltop location and “spare no expense” design approach. Any concerns about long-term viability were quickly erased as a rapid influx of curious locals and affluent travelers, all wanting to stay at the finest property with the fairest view, caused a swift increase in traffic, investment, and infrastructure. Sidewalk cafes erupted, music and dance halls flourished, art galleries opened, and other high-end lodging quickly appeared. By the height of “The Roaring ‘20’s”, this area had fully blossomed into Rome’s cultural zeitgeist, and the Westin Excelsior had become its hub. And now more than 110 years after it was first built, the resort is seeing a rebirth as the perfect melding of old world luxury and class with new age health-conscious, wellness-focused living.

 

Image: Justin M. Duren

 

You can start your day off right by utilizing Westin’s amazing exercise options. Leverage their gear lending program ($5/EUR per day) for access to athletic wear and New Balance shoes, then get your morning workout on at their nicely appointed fitness studio. Or better yet, request a customized running map based on sights and locations you want to visit, and enjoy a fantastic run around Rome. And of course after every good workout you simply must have some fuel. Doubly so given all your sightseeing and shopping plans for the day (How did we know about all your plans?? Because nobody visits Rome to just chill. That’s what the rest of Italy is for…). The Excelsior has you covered there too with their fantastic SuperFoods program, offering numerous health-enhancing menu items rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients such as locally grown spinach & tomatoes, ground cinnamon with organic whole grain oats, and fresh yogurt with local honey. Now you can always go back to your room and order food in. Who doesn’t love sitting on one of the Westin’s signature “Heavenly Beds”, listening to the hard inflections and hand gestures of a bustling morning in Rome while eating fresh and healthy fare? We get it. But then you would miss out on grabbing a sidewalk table at The Doney Ristorante and Cafe, one of the legendary elements unique to the Excelsior. You know that Picasso used to dine here, right? The Rolling Stones and Diana Ross and Whitney Houston, Sean Connery and Jim Carrey and Will Smith too. And did you know that they have this cool thing called “Opera Brunch” on Sundays where top-notch opera singers intermix between tables and guests and serenade all in attendance?? So it’s settled then, you simply must pull up a chair and have a long leisurely breakfast or brunch here and enjoy this bucket-list moment at this bucket-list hotel on this bucket-list street in this bucket-list city. Don’t worry, Rome will still be there when you finish.

Image: Justin M. Duren

 

Ok, so you’ve had the perfect start to your Roman excursion and now you venture out into one of the finest cities in the world to see the awe-inspiring ruins, eat at mouth-watering trattorias and osterias, shop at shops with famous names that all seem to sound cooler than the last, and enjoy some of the finest people watching around. Rome has been on top ten traveling lists for centuries. It will be for centuries more. And so you see the stunning sights and eat the amazing meals and have more cappuccino and espresso and gelatto than you ever thought possible, and now you are looking at the time and my it’s getting late so you return to the beautiful hotel on the hill made of marble and class in search of a way to wind down. What better way than at the Westin’s Kamispa wellness center, a relaxing and rejuvenating spa facility with a wide range of spa treatments, aromatherapy sessions, and massages? There is also a communal Turkish bath and separate women’s and men’s saunas available for use. Now you may say that spas are almost table stakes at this point for any 5-star property, and we wouldn’t argue with you, but this spa earns especially high marks for its soothing atmosphere, skilled staff, and high quality eco-friendly products.

 

Image: Justin M. Duren

 

Of course, you may also be too tired altogether to face the arduous task of an exhausting visit to the spa, and so instead you decide to simply saunter into your well- appointed welcoming room and relax the night away. This is an especially appealing choice if you are lucky enough to have grabbed one of their 35 jaw-dropping suites. Each one appears as if a timeless painting, with elegant crystal chandeliers, and beautiful artwork and furniture, and sumptuous fabrics, and of course majestic Italian marble accented throughout the master bedroom and separate living room. They also have a few bespoke VIP suites available including their crown jewel known as the “Villa La Cupola” suite, consistently ranked as one of the finest hotel suites in the world. It’s easy to see why. Spread out over the top two floors of the hotel and boasting almost 1100 sq. meters, this suite to the stars has everything one could need after a long day conquering Rome.

 

Image: Justin M. Duren

 

An expansive and inviting master bedroom, a tiered home theater and video conferencing room, fully stocked wine cellar, private kitchen (late night snacks!!), a divine dining room anchored by a stunning murano glass chandelier, a beautiful Italian wood-paneled study, a large sauna and steam bath, a private jacuzzi room that is completely covered with hand-tiled mosaics, a private rooftop deck which overlooks the city, and a private elevator to traverse between all these dream spaces. And lest we forget the namesake Cupola living room, with a 12 meter tall domed ceiling that has been entirely hand-frescoed in traditional Italian style; a spectacular statement room in an already spectacular statement suite. Absolutely unforgettable this suite is. Just like this city. And this street. And this hotel.

Justin M Duren

Photography is my life. Telling Stories with my camera is what I do... And PR. And Graphic Design. And Writing. And anything else fun and creative they will let me do...

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