Rome Guide

With the likes of Bulgari, Valentino, Fendi and Laura Biagiotti starting out in the Italian capital, fashion is to Romans what rhythm is to citizens of Havana...


Where to Stay in Rome

First among the fashion elite, Portrait Suites is a collection of 14 apartment-style rooms customised to form a boutique hotel. The suites here are seriously stylish, with sleek wood, cream and dove grey furnishings and, true to its inheritance (it’s owned by the Ferragamo fashion empire), the hotel is peppered with shoe-related artwork. It also boasts one of the best rooftop terraces in the city. Yet, despite the chic surroundings, it manages to still retain a homely atmosphere. Those with shopping in mind take note; it’s also dangerously close to boutique-fringed Via Condotti. If you’d rather be a little further from the designer handbag-toting hordes, Leon’s Place offers elegant rooms, with just a hint of naughtiness, over by the Porta Pia.


Where to Eat in Rome

Unlikely as it sounds, the hippest hangout in town just now is a burger bar, albeit a very stylish one. Plugging a gap for really good American food in the city, The Perfect Bun (Largo Del Teatro Valle 4; +39 06 45476337), by Piazza Navona, boasts industrial styling that’s big on glass, wood and brick and a menu that focuses on simple, freshly made burgers, steaks and salads. Take a pew at the huge communal table at its heart – and don’t miss a trip to the loo to powder your nose surrounded by disco lights and the sound of Dancing Queen.


If you prefer your surroundings slightly more on the edgy side, head out to Pigneto. This district, just to the east of the city centre, is a rough diamond. Unpromising at first, the high density of artists, architects, designers, filmmakers and writers living here means it's also home to some of Rome’s most interesting restaurants. One of the best is Necci (Via Fanfulla da Lodi 68; +39 6 9760 1552), a haven of retro chic with white painted chairs, brightly patterned wallpaper, ancient cabinets laden with wine, a counter packed with delicious cakes and a breezy outdoor terrace.

If you’re vegetarian, there’s one place in town where you’ll never be made to feel like a gastronomic leper. Arancia Blu (Via Prenestina, 396; +39 6 445 4105) is a vegetarian enoteca that packs a beefy punch when it comes to flavour; try the ravioli with potato and mint or the chocolate and orange tart.

Where to Go Out in Rome

The latest trend in town is for book bars. Best to leave your librarian getup at home, though - the books are more for style than substance, and not much actual reading goes on amid the drinking. The best of the bunch is Bar a Book in grungy San Lorenzo (Via dei Piceni 23; +39 6 9604 3014), a relaxed place to sit and sup a glass of local Cabernet surrounded by junk shop finds and vintage china; the owner also runs Tram Tram, a popular nearby restaurant.

A very different theme sets the tone at Freni e Frizioni in Trastevere (Via del Politeama 4; +39 6 5833 4210). Inspired by its former incarnation as a garage (the name means ‘Brakes and Clutches’ in Italian) it’s a great place to grab a cocktail and soak up some of Trastevere’s shabby chic style.

If your tastes veer more to Miami than Marylebone, and you’re visiting in summer, make for Zest, the rooftop bar of the Radisson Blu (Via Filippo Turati 171; +39 6 444 841). Ignore the trains rumbling into Termini Station below and join the city’s beautiful people for a poolside bellini.


Where to Shop in Rome

Via Condotti, which runs southwest from the foot of the Spanish Steps, is Rome’s most prestigious shopping street; all the big designer brands are here and in the streets off it. If you prefer something more independent, Rigasu in the Porta Pia area (Via Nomentana 135, +39 6 4420 2414) is a great boutique run by three women who mix high-end labels with cheaper, good quality brands. With accessories, shoes and clothes under one roof, it’s a one-stop shop. On a grander scale, White Gallery, in the south of the city, is Rome’s first dedicated lifestyle store, blending a contemporary art gallery with clothes (everything from Christopher Kane to Yamamoto), candles and a café (Piazza Guglielmo Marconi 18/19; +39 6 5427 7400).

What to Wear in Rome

Make like Monica Bellucci, with grown-up grooming, shades the size of saucers and immaculate tailoring; don’t forget to practice your pout.

Don’t Leave Rome Without

Timing your trip to coincide with one of the city’s best pop-up flea markets - Micca Market (Via Pietro Micca 7a; +39 6 8744 0079) or Mercato Monti (location varies; If you’ve more dash than cash, go window-shopping at the Fendi store, Palazzo Fendi (Largo Carlo Goldoni 419-421; +39 6 334 501). Originally founded in 1918 as a fur and leather specialist, the company’s current flagship store, with its travertine stone and cascading chandelier, shows just how far fashion can take you. Be warned, though - the second floor fur boutique won’t be to everyone’s tastes. What will be is the gorgeous gelato on offer at the Antica Gelateria De Matteis (Via Celimontana 34; +39 6 338 252 4319). The best ice cream in the city, it’s all made naturally on site here, from chilli and chocolate to fig or pine nut. The location is great, too - right by the Colosseum but tucked away from all the crowds.

Beauty SOS – Where to Go for Pampering in Rome

Tired of Tibetan bells CDs and salons decorated with more pink than a Barbie playset? The Wonderfool wellbeing retreat (Via dei Banchi Nuovi 39; +39 6 689 2315) is a more sophisticated alternative. First opened a couple of years ago as an upmarket grooming salon for men, its minimalist, grown-up facilities (all walnut armchairs and slate-lined showers) have recently started offering women’s spa treatments. Facials, massages and personal yoga lessons are all on offer. As are ‘legs delight’ treatments – just the thing after a day spent pounding the streets in Gucci heels.

Planning a trip to Rome? To find your perfect bolthole in the Italian capital, browse all ELLE escapes' places to stay. Alternatively, check out all our travel guides.

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