ROME, ITALY: Hotel Splendide Royal is a stunningly gorgeous 19th century palace and 5 star luxury hotel overlooking the Villa Borghese gardens in the tony Via Venato district of Rome. This incredible member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World opened in 2001. It features the acclaimed Michelin Starred restaurant Mirabelle, whose magnificent views overlook all of the Eternal City.
Immaculately beautiful, entering the Splendide Royal is to step back in time into a gorgeously resplendent world of its own. Sumptuously decorated with marble floors. Murano glass chandeliers, gilt mirrors, and precious oil paintings everywhere. It is an immersion into a mystical golden age of beauty and culture.
Hotel Splendide Royal: The hidden jewel of Via Veneto
Set on Via di Porta Pinciana, right across from the sprawling Borghese Gardens. The Splendide Royal rises like an 8 story elegant treasure. Its triangular cornice a landmark feature of this classically stunning luxury property. A caped doorman greets each guest as they arrive.
The lobby is a glorious chamber of gold damask walls. Sumptuous antique furnishings and glittering crystal chandeliers under a stirring octagonal domed skylight. A glittering gold and silver carpet adorn the center of the floor. Twin blue antique couches surrounded by gilt mirrors on every wall create a 360 degree panorama of glory.
The reception desk just inside the revolving glass door entrance is compact, with polished marble floors and gold striped couches in a glorious sitting room as beautifully appointed as the lobby. Ancient oval oil paintings of Italian counts cover the walls, under a ceiling of immaculate plaster moldings.
Hotel Splendide Royal: A unique luxury experience
This boutique hotel exemplifies the very best of what Small Luxury Hotels of the World is all about. Completely unique. Extraordinarily gorgeous. A set piece of unmatchable beauty. It shimmers in a reflection of the past brought to life.
With 68 individually unique rooms, each room is filled with luxurious carpeting, antique furnishings, an array of distinct lamps and lighting fixtures, and fine art and sculpture. Oil paintings are everywhere, in the hallways and the rooms, many clearly from the impressionist era. Every door to every room is heavy carved wood, with distinctive rounded tops to the door frame, like something out an Italian castle.
The building itself is in the shape of a triangle. Its broad front façade comes to a point at an apex at one end. Architecturally distinct, its ornate Baroque furnishings adorn the interior, while the exterior has the grandeur of the 19th century in both structure and in the elaborate corniches and masonic designs.
Splendide Royal: The corner Junior Suite
Our 4th floor Junior Suite is sumptuously gorgeous, at the very apex of the corner of the triangle of the building. A glorious 7 sided room with an octagonal skylight. It has the atmosphere of a Ducal palace and the furnishings of a villa fit for the landed aristocracy.
The entranceway and antechamber lead to the incredible bedroom. Red and gold patterned carpet adorns the floor. White plastered walls are covered with gold damask cloth insets. It is sophisticated and stylishly decorated.
Stunning red curtains with gold embroidery cover the edges of three large windows looking west, north and east off the apex of the building. Blue valences hang from the tops of ornate gold curtain rods. White privacy curtains slide over the large window spaces.
At the center of the room an elegant pair of 8 foot glass paneled doors open up onto a large balcony covered by three elaborate gold arches. Incredible views directly overlook the sprawling Borghese Gardens in a vista of glory for the ages.
A Gorgeous setting with impeccable furnishings
A green marble table set for two sits on the spacious private terrace. A speckled marble window seat has a series of planters filled with red posies against the railing. The setting is astounding. The sense of beauty is everywhere. The serenity is palpable.
A sumptuous king size bed with an antique white wooden headboard with gilt patterns sits at one end at the top of the seven sided chamber. An inset octagon above the center of the room set into the ceiling with rose colored recessed lighting lends a glorious royal feeling to the bed chamber.
Antique furniture from the 19th century and a stunning writing desk are prominent features of the room. A spacious sitting area of a brilliant gold upholstered loveseat with cream embroidery and matching twin lounge chairs around a low antique coffee table fills one corner.
Hotel Splendide Royal: Style and Class in abundance
Two amazing gilt covered mirrors fill the wall on either side of the glass paneled doors to the balcony. They are matched with two 18th century oil paintings on the walls on either side of the bed. Every design elements is precise and meticulous. Every aspect of the room shimmers with the glory of the past.
Laying back on the bed the octagonal ceiling space is mesmerizing, looming 12 feet above the center of the room. The contrast of a seven sided room with an 8 sided ceiling lends an ethereal air to the architectural design of the room, while the beauty of the palatial furnishings is practically surreal.
The bathroom is enormous, with a deep jacuzzi tub, a large shower, twin sinks, elegant white marble walls with black speckled veins, black marble floors, and black granite countertops. The closet space is vast, antique inset closets of rich dark woods and multiple cabinets.
The Splendide Royal experience
The Splendide Royale has a reputation for glamourous interiors, impeccable design, and creating a richly appointed experience that can be found nowhere else in Rome. They have succeeded magnificently.
A welcoming bottle of Prosecco has been left in the room, and the afternoon is spent luxuriating in the impeccable atmosphere of this one of a kind royal chamber of glory. The Villa Borghese gardens lay out the windows and off the balcony in every direction. Its large pine trees sway in the breeze, as Rome splays out in the distance below, afternoon turning to dusk. Whiling away the hours on the terrace is a memory that will last a lifetime.
Mirabelle: Stunning views of all of Rome
Dinner at the exquisite Michelin starred rooftop restaurant Mirabelle is a joyous experience of incredible views and exquisite Haute Cuisine. Known as one of Rome’s greatest restaurants, its impeccable dining is only exceeded by the vista that stretches all the way across the Eternal City to Saint Peters cathedral in the Vatican.
It is an otherworldly evening of Haute Cuisine that defines the reputation of both Mirabelle and the Spendide Royal. Life is a search for the grand indulgence of unique experiences that are irreplaceable. Dinner at Mirabelle is just such an unforgettable collection of moments in that grand design.
Set on the seventh floor of the hotel, Mirabelle is filled with the baroque stylings and glamourous design touches found throughout the hotel. Three stunning connecting chambers with mirrored walls lend an almost Versaille type quality to the large open space.
Mirabelle: The Restaurant
A long, extended terrace stretching the length of the restaurant sits up against a glass wall, past which all the glories of Rome can be found. This romantic collection of tables is the quintessential Roman dining experience.
The restaurant is ablaze with candlelight as the twinkling lights of the Rome fill the sky in the distance. St Peters Basilica is a beacon of light, dominating the panorama as the brightest object in view. It casts a glorious aura across an already spectacular vista.
The terrace fills with diners, and Mirabelle is, as promised, the most spectacular rooftop restaurant scenery imaginable. It is both sensationally romantic, and an awestruck moment of bliss.
Mirabelle: An impecable evening
Manager Stefano Marzetti and his seasoned staff are precise and nobly professional, the wait staff dressed in white diner jackets. Our server, Danieli DiMeglio, is a personable young man with the refined air of Marcello Mastraioni and the timbered voice of an Italian Louis Jourdan.
The evening begins with an aperitif of Laurent Perrirer Pink Champagne as the dome of Saint Peters shimmers in the distance. A series of amuse bouche ensue, as the terrace comes alive with the soft chatter of several dozen candle lit guests, against a brilliant night sky dotted with light.
A symphony of fish and crustacians, served crudo, or raw, is a tantalizing opening course. Red Sicilian prawn, a large scampi, seared tuna, and a tartar of salmon is served alongside a mound of spiced whole grain cous cous. Brilliantly fresh, it is a wonderful opening round of a fabulous meal.
White Alba Truffle season in Italy
It is almost November, so that means white truffle season in Italy. Tonight at Mirabelle it will be a white Alba truffle feast unlike any other. The white Truffle is the rarest of treats, and Alba is the most famous part of the Piemonte region known for its truffles. At Mirabelle they raise the truffle to an art form.
Asparagus crispy waffle with poached egg and parmesan foam “Vache Rosse’ with white truffle is the beginning of the extravaganza. Head waiter Gianlorenzo Alessandrini comes tableside to preside over the shaving of the truffle. A dignified man dressed impeccably in a dark suit with a shock of white hair, he has been with Mirabelle for 18 years since its opening in 2001.
He ceremoniously shaves the large, pungent alba truffle over the egg. Before its rapturous flavor is actually eaten, its distinct musky odor is clear. An evening in paradise is about to begin, as the next two pasta courses are designed to emphasize the Alba truffle.
Mirabelle truffle extravaganza: Risotto and Tagliolini
Risotto “Parmigiana” with white Alba truffle and Tagliolini with Normandy sweet butter and white Alba truffle are twin peaks of truffle heaven. The risotto is clean and simple, a generous portion on a broad plate, designed to emphasize the truffle to come.
Head Waiter Gianlorenzo reappears with the giant White Alba truffle and layers it over the risotto with all the precision of a military exercise. The truffle itself is fist size, as valuable as Gold bullion. He is generous in his shavings until the risotto has been completely covered.
The Tagliolini comes out of the kitchen but is then is also sauteed tableside in the sweet butter from Normandy, the source of Europe’s most treasured butter. Again Gianlorenzo Alessandrini brings out the Alba truffle and begins shaving it over a delicate bowl of tagliolini.
Dinner at Mirabelle: An immersive experience
The steam rising from the pasta carries the subtle pungent aura of truffle wafting over the table. He covers the surface of the pasta in a rich layer of thin shavings, each fragment full of powerful flavor.
When he is done with both the risotto and taglioloni, he presents two plates filled with rich Italian classics, engulfed in the truffle treasure from the woods of Piemonte. Time stands still as we admire his artistry and handiwork. Then it is time to indulge.
Each brilliant forkful of Tagliolini is filled with the musky, pungent undercurrent emanating from the Alba truffle. It permeates every fragment of the dish. Twirling each forkful is like an encounter with a sea nymph, intoxicating flavor washing over the palette, rising through the nose like a sixth sense.
A study in delicious contrasts
Every tender spoonful of risotto baths in the glory of the truffle, invigorating the primal senses. The counterpoint between tender perfectly cooked risotto and the texture and bountiful taste of the Alba truffle is like a revelation.
The contrast between the pasta and the risotto, both immaculate dishes with the treasure of a lifetime shaved in bountiful glory on top of them, is a heavenly indulgence. The pasta is fulsome and buttery. Blending with the Alba to become one whole. While the risotto is creamy, even more subtle, allowing the full force of the truffle to come forward. It is a culinary tour de force.
Exploring Aglianica wine
The evening is accompanied by a stunning 2011 Tauriso Aglianica from the Campania region. Somellier extraordinaire Louigi Michelli is affable and brilliant as he explains the wine list, and helps select from a beautiful array of choices.
Aglianica is the ancient Greek grape introduced into Italy 3000 years ago, when most of southern Italy was a Greek colony. The Tausiso chosen is fabulous, opening with a layer of flinty tannin. It then quickly smooths out into a lovely fruit forward wine that blossoms like a flower over the course of the meal.
It is a particularly beautiful counterpoint to the risotto and taglialini. With each rich bite of truffle, its powerful undercurrents washing over the palette, the Anglianico cuts through to soften the edges, enrich the flavor, and prepare for the next bite.
Seldom has a lovely wine been a more effective example of the power of great wine to complement extraordinary rarified cuisine. Here White Alba truffle has met its dance partner, each fulfilling the promise of the other.
Wild Salmon and Veal Medallions
Wild salmon glazed with beer, gorgonzola, peanuts and chili sponge is a wonderful main course, a brief respite from an evening of truffle madness. Tender and beautifully cooked, a generous serving of Salmon is lusciously flavorful, tender and juicy, succulently won derful.
The meal comes to a climax with a finale of veal medallions with melted Valdostana cheese, and a final serving of white Alba truffle. The veal is perfectly cooked, medium rare, 4 gorgeous medallions is a savory sauce.
GianLorenzo again shaves a generous portion of the gorgeous Alba truffle, now somewhat smaller, over each medallion, until a thin layer of precious shavings permeate the dish. The contrast of veal with the truffle is distinctly different than the pasta, showing the ability of truffle to transmogrify any dish with its own distinct collaboration of flavor.
Here the hearty taste of veal is softened by the truffle, where as with the pasta the truffle was the emphasized ingredient. Here it is a pas de deux of flavors, the sweetness of the veal enhanced by the musky overtone of the truffle, and then enhanced again by the Aglianico, now open in full flower.
Mirabelle: A night to remember
The evening comes to close with coffee and a small bowl of passion fruit sorbet. Saint Peters glows on the horizon, its lighted dome dominating the skyline. The restaurant has a quiet stillness, the room aglow with the smiles of satisfied diners, and the tranquility of candlelight.
It has been an evening in paradise at Mirabelle. The setting, the service, the atmosphere, the ambiance all more than surpass expectations. The rooftop view is unmatchable. The sense of serenity and the memories of a fabulous fine dining experience will last a lifetime. And the truffle. Oh…the truffle.
Splendide Royal: Unforgettable moments in paradise
Breakfast is served on the sixth floor in the gorgeous Crystal room. The sun is shining through a cloud filled sky. The dome of Saint Peters is a glorious sight, gleaming across the Tiber river in the distance. Time stands still, again, as the bountiful views of Borghese Gardens lay out acroiss the landscape below us.
Hotel Splendide Royale is a true oasis of sophisticated joy that brings new meaning to Small Luxury Hotels of the World. From the impeccable room, its glorious views, the extraordinary furnishings, and serene atmosphere. It has all the qualities of an island of luxury unto itself.
With the added beauty of an evening at Mirabelle, and our journey into the mystical world of the white Alba truffle, it provides a spectacular fine dining experience in a stunning setting that can only be found here. On the rooftop at the Splendide Royal.
Leaving is a sad necessity. Our stay here all too brief. There are other horizons to explore, and we are sure to return again. But the memory of our time at Hotel Splendide Royal and our dinner at Mirabelle will forever be lodged in our minds, as indelibly and joyfully etched as the unforgettable taste of the white Alba truffle.
La dolce vita indeed.
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles. @Joel Berliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds Instagram: @big-al-peoples-pal