An old property is becoming the big news in Roman hospitality. Fathom contributing editor Christina Ohly checked into the former home of German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the hot addition to Rome's hotel options.
La Scelta di Goethe has been spectacularly transformed into a series of sumptuous apartments that makes for a home stay like no other. Do not judge this book by its cover, as the entrance to the luxury apartments is a simple door on bustling Via del Corso, just around the corner from the Spanish Steps.
Guests are greeted at the main door and escorted up to the fourth floor apartments, where they're welcomed with fresh fruits, pressed juices, and champagne.
There are three suite options: Trinita dei Monti has sweeping terraces, a well-stocked library, and a rooftop soaking pool. Villa Medici has quiet bedrooms, a spacious and high-ceiling living room, and a private dining room overlooking the the domes of Trinita dei Monti. Goethe's Home, at 260 square meters, is the total house takeover that includes both Trinita dei Monti and Villa Medici suites. Access to additional communal areas makes it ideal for families, small groups, or those seeking big, elegant, silent space.
A stay at La Scelta is simply unlike anyplace else. Every finish and fabric — exquisite marbles! beautiful woods! — has been carefully considered by Mario Angelini, the warm owner. The dedicated butler and concierge stay completely out of sight — until you need to ask questions about running routes, cultural highlights, and hidden trattoria throughout this eternally wonderful city.
Claim to Fame
Just opened a year ago, the hotel is still under the radar, but it won't be for long. The name translates as "the choice of Goethe," and these are, in fact, the former apartments of German poet J.W. Goethe. A stay is like a wonderful history lesson with five-star polish and service and the best access to the city.
What's on Site
The refined attic apartments are more like the home of a Roman royal than the usual luxury hotel. There is nothing typical about the rich tapestries, the Florentine artwork, and the exceptional collections of contemporary glass that line the shelves. You will find yourself marveling at the overall design, a loving restoration of an historic building in the heart of the city, but one that incorporates the latest technologies in subtle ways (like loaded iPads in every guest room). The perfectly pressed sheets are of the highest thread count, and the amenities in the sleek bathrooms are Santa Maria Novella, including toothbrushes and paste. No small request is overlooked, and delectable snacks appear at key points throughout the day. No gym, no restaurant; good WiFi, televisions, and phones. The staff is happy to arrange gym passes. Markets just outside the front door make stocking up on cold Diet Cokes a cinch.
Room with a View
My extended family and I were lucky enough to take over the entire house, which made for a very different, more personal Roman stay. I slept in the quiet back room in the master suite. I absolutely loved the owner, Mario. With his warm smile and chatty Italian (I told him I spoke the language once upon a time, as in, 25 years ago), I learned so much about the neighborhood and the loving restoration of these apartments, as well as his sister property, San Buono, in the Tuscan hills.
Breakfast is the total highlight of any stay here, and, when possible, is served on the rooftop terrace, with 360-degree views of Villa Borghese, Vatican City, and Saint Carlo Church in the distance. It was a meal I won't soon forget: muesli, yogurt, meats and cheeses, berries of every kind, a delicious plum tart, fresh breads and croissants from the baker down the street. It just went on and on.
This Place Is Perfect For
Groups of six, families with older children, couples looking for a total escape. That La Scelta di Goethe can work for any and all is a testament to the staff and how hard they work to ensure that every guest is looked after.
But Not So Perfect For
Anyone with mobility issues and small children, as there are multiple stairs involved. The cream-colored sofa fabrics and fine artworks by Pietro Bardellino aren't very kid-friendly either.
The luxury suites are a complete oasis in an otherwise frenetic part of the city. You're a minute from the Spanish Steps, the high-end shops lining Via Condotti, and Piazza del Popolo, yet you'll feels like you've stepped back in time.
What to Do Nearby
You're in the middle of Rome. What can't you do? Area highlights include Basilica Santa Maria del Popolo, straciatella gelato from Il Gelato (Largo Monte D'Oro, 28), dinners outside at Piazza del Popolo's Dal Bolognese (more for the scene than the food, which is perfectly fine), and pizza and foccacia by the slice from Grano around the corner (literally, the best I've ever had). The Pantheon, the most beautiful building on earth, is a short walk away, as is lunch of incredible cheeses and crudo at nearby Roscioli.
La Scelta di Goethe
Via del Corso, 107, 00187