Gran Melia Villa Agrippina is the 13th property in Melia Hotels International’s premium portfolio. // © 2012 Gran Melia Villa Agrippina
Rome wasn’t built in a day — and neither was the new Gran Melia Villa Agrippina. Upon its opening in April, the hotel was 11 years in the making and well worth the wait. Already a member of Preferred Resorts, the hotel is so special that Melia Hotels International has appointed it as the flagship hotel for the brand.
Gran Melia Villa Agrippina, the 13th property in Melia’s premium portfolio, is full of surprises — and the luxury hotel exceeded my expectations on a recent visit. Gated and removed quietly from the bustle of the city, Gran Melia Villa Agrippina is built directly on the birthplace of the ancient ruler Nero, the last emperor of Rome, where his mother Agrippina lived. Additionally, the columns of the entrance date back approximately 1,500 years and are encased in glass for preservation. The hotel also served as a former women-only convent, a church and a private residence. It’s just steps from the Vatican City and is the only hotel of this caliber located at such close proximity. Also, as the only city-center hotel with an outdoor pool, separate whirlpool, sun beds, private cabanas and meticulously landscaped gardens with tall cypress and pine trees, the hotel is being touted as an urban luxury resort. The location is also ideal — right in the heart of the charming Trastevere neighborhood.
The hotel itself is a sight in its own right. All the furniture and design pieces at Gran Melia Villa Agrippina are custom-made, from the dramatic, wall-size sculpture of Agrippina’s face in the lobby to the stylish furnishings in the intimate, high-ceiling library. The international staff is fast on their feet with a signature hand-on-heart Melia welcome.
There are 116 rooms and suites in 12 room categories spanning eight floors, with each floor inspired by an artistic theme and each room offering views of the Orti Domiziani gardens, the streets of Rome, Vatican City or the Castle Saint Angelo. Six suites have private balconies, complete with sun beds and a private whirlpool Jacuzzi. Each contemporary room — ranging from 250 to 895 square feet — brings to mind a baroque Roman residence feel with billowing window curtains, warm wood, Trani stone floors, velvet-like fabrics and large baroque paintings that hang above the beds. Rooms are equipped with complimentary Wi-Fi access, high-definition plasma televisions, Nespresso coffee machines and RedGlove service. For an extra charge, the hotel offers RedLevel, an exclusive service that offers private check-in, premium accommodation, a pillow menu, a selection of aromatherapy, the RedLevel Lounge, private butler service and priority access to restaurant reservations. The bathrooms are equipped with heated stone floors, a rain shower (many rooms with bathtubs) and Clarins bath products.
Three dining facilities offer a range of culinary experiences, from Italian to Mediterranean, though guests will likely most appreciate Viva Voce. The restaurant is helmed by Michelin-starred chef Alfonso Iaccarino who has restaurants in Macau and Marrakech. The fine-dining restaurant offers romantic, outdoor seating and features the chef's modern take on traditional Italian fare.
A Yhi Wellness Spa also contributes to the hotel’s status. The spa offers an outdoor vitality pool, four treatment rooms, a sauna, a steam bath, sensation showers and a relaxation area with Naturalbisse products. The spa, while dedicated to the care of the body and soul, is also focused on energy. Many treatments are designed to either focus on the chakras with precious gems or on rebalancing Qi energy, which is said to help with jetlag. It’s also the only hotel spa in Rome to use the emerging trend of diamonds (diamond powder) in body scrubs and facials — it doesn’t get much more luxurious than that.