What can only be described as a giant open-air museum showcasing over 2,700 years of history and cultural change, the enchanting city of Rome is a true masterpiece. Food so good you’ll want to indulge at the sight of every trattoria, gelateria and ristorante you come across at renowned sites like the epic Colosseum, Roman Forums, Spanish Steps and the Pantheon, it’s sure to say it’s a city you’ll want to visit at least once in your life.
For foodies and culture vultures like me, a visit to the Italian capital had been a long time coming and the trip was made all the more special as it was close to the final destination of a Star Clipper Mediterranean cruise that I had enjoyed the previous week.
Nicknamed the Eternal City by the ancient Romans, who believed that no matter what happened to the world, Rome would go on forever, I had to discover that the sites of Rome can be eternally busy, but they are certainly eternally beautiful. Of course, I needed a proper base for my first visit, so I checked into a newly opened hotel, The First Musica by the Pavilions Hotels and Resorts.
The latest addition to ‘The First’ collection of hotels in Rome, Musica opened in early July 2022 and follows in the opulent footsteps of sister hotels, The First Arte and The First Dolce. If you think there can be a theme running through each then you would be right as the first blends exquisite contemporary art curated by a local gallery with the elegance and comfort of a 19e19th-century palace, while the latter’s elegant patisserie gallery, serving mouth-watering sweet and savory indulgences, sits well in its 19eresidence-boutique of the last century.
Softly themed with music, which is presented in the elegant lobby decor (a cleverly designed piano and shelves of music star books) and via the inclusion of a Bang and Olufsen speaker in the bedroom , it is the exterior of the hotel that will catch your eye. Look for a matte gold exterior and you’ve found The First Musica; it’s a striking way to introduce guests to the place and I guess it sets the stage for the level of opulence that lies within.
Now if I’m making the place look rather tacky with the mention of all that gold and talking about themed hotels then erase that image from your mind and replace it with something that oozes white marble, tall furniture upscale, Art Deco touches and high-quality materials bathed in rich tones and complemented by golds, blacks and creams, and you’re closer to the reality of this fine establishment.
As mentioned, the hotel is brand new, so some elements are not yet finished. A spa is due for completion in 2023, there’s no gym here yet either, but if you want to get rid of the delicious pasta you’ve devoured across town, you can do so at a sister hotel in only five minutes. Just ask at reception and they will be happy to help you. Guests are greeted by friendly faces who work hard to ensure you are well taken care of, from city recommendations and taxi reservations, to meal times and bed preparation, and it starts at the moment you set foot in this elegant lobby until the minute you leave.
My August trip was filled with days of 33 degrees Celsius, a bit sweltering for a Brit used to much cooler temperatures, and so my enjoyment of the air-conditioned room and minibar stocked with ice-cold drinks was surely palpable.
The sleek, modern bedroom was decorated in the hotel’s gold, black and cream tones with marble and plentiful Art Deco touches and I felt the room was well designed, striking a nice balance between modernity, utility and comfort. comfort. Dark wood paneled walls are offset by a cream headboard and light cream curtains. A shutter and curtains are controlled by a switch by the bed – one of the welcome modern touches – and the bedside tables have their own built-in lights, which provide a soft glow from below, as well as charging stations .
Expect to find an espresso machine for some delicious Italian coffee and there is a TV to keep you entertained. You’ll also find soft bathrobes, a safe and plenty of storage space in the built-in wardrobe, and I thought the turndown service was one of the best I’ve ever experienced.
The bed is adorned with crisp white linens, duvets and fluffy pillows for a truly comfortable night’s sleep, while the bathroom is as stylish as some of the landmarks you’ll find in the city. Accessed by a golden sliding door, you will find white-grey marble from head to toe, the shower room has a spacious walk-in shower, a large sink, a shelf for personal effects and a bidet as well. A scale, slippers, and oversized toiletries are included, while gold trim and faucets complete the sleek space.
There are two dining spaces at the hotel, and they do well to showcase the fantastic city views across the river. As well as offering guests great views, Oliva Restaurant and Alto Cocktail Bar serve award-winning wines and drinks and great food in an alluring atmosphere.
The Oliva Restaurant is located on the fifth floor of the hotel and serves Mediterranean and regional delicacies in its sumptuous surroundings. The restaurant was closed when we visited except for an impressive breakfast, but a look at the menu tells me diners are in for a treat. Choose from pasta dishes, pigeon, duck liver terrine, lamb and more from a selection of tasting menus alongside well-selected wines and sit back after a long day of sightseeing with a incredible view of the skyline.
I was there for dinner one evening and it happened at Alto, a sleek and stylish space on the sixth and seventh floors, the highest of which is a rooftop space accessed by steps with impeccable panoramic views. The sixth floor has indoor and outdoor space and both offer the perfect place to relax with some food as the setting sun creates a beautiful scene in front of you and a DJ creates a lively atmosphere.
As my guest and I watched an enchanting display of oranges and roses above the rooftops as the sun bid farewell for the day, I sipped a delicious glass of Italian white wine recommended by a waiter. We dined on a delicious range of dishes, which showcases the typical Italian cooking style of using fresh, high quality ingredients prepared simply, yet beautifully. We both devoured a plate of salmon sashimi with fresh cream and chives, a wonderful loaf of sourdough and burrata cheese with Cantabrian anchovies and cherry tomatoes to start.
Our mains consisted of tortellino pasta with a buffalo milk and black truffle sauce, and breaded veal cutlet served Milanese style with a bowl of cherry tomatoes. Filling, rich, simple and indulgent, these dishes leave no room for dessert, but if you are tempted, you can choose from the fried donuts with cream, the millefeuille with cream and red fruits and the Sicilian brioche with ice.
It was nice to dine outside with the great views and the DJ tunes serenading us, although it was quiet the night we were there I have no doubt this will become a real hot spot for the city.
Breakfast is not something to be overlooked here as it has to be up there with one of the best I have devoured. The meal was served at Oliva, a stylish space with comfort and elegance in mind with dark green seating paying homage to the name, while walls of wine provide the opportunity to view the selection to sip up for grabs and drinks. Full-length windows overlooking the downtown water inspire you to envision the day’s explorations.
We were served quite generously, which I still covet to this day. Two types of French butter and ricotta cheese were presented alongside a plate of five slices of different bread or rolls and a selection of four pastries to devour, which I most certainly did. On top of that we were each given a bowl of fruit, a delicious granola with yogurt and asked what hot and cold drinks we would like. As if that weren’t enough, we feasted on a smoked salmon omelette and boiled eggs, all served on signature tableware. A delicious and memorable start to the day and a delicious spread to set us up well for a day exploring the big city.
Situated in a peaceful part of town along the river, The First Musica is well located and just under ten minutes walk from Castel Sant’Angelo in one direction and Piazza del Popolo in the other. Vatican City is a 10-15 minute walk away and the bustling centre, best explored on foot, offers an impressive array of historical sites, architectural delights, shops, restaurants and much more to discover, all of which can be explored on foot.
Personal highlights included the Trevi Fountain – if you can find a time to visit when the crowds have died down, you did very well; the Roman forums and the Colosseum, which blew me away with the quality of the preservation of these historical remains; the Pantheon – be sure to book and cover up if heading inside; and simply wander the streets and be wowed by the beauty of the place, monumental sites with ornate decor scattered everywhere.
In a word
Rome is a city like no other and it is therefore quite normal that you stay in a hotel like no other. The First Musica certainly fits the bill with its golden exterior, smart and super-sleek interiors, stylish ambience and impressive public areas.
Stays at The Pavilions Rome, The First Musica start from €500 per room, per night, including taxes and service.
See clips of my travels on Instagram @tashheard_food_travel