Rome is a city where you can fully embrace la dolce vita, especially if you opt to stay in style and intimacy in one of its boutique hotels. Whether it’s a chic and central escape near the Spanish Steps or a hilltop retreat commanding knockout views of the Italian capital, we’ve sought out places that skillfully bring together history, design, entrancing views, and tempting food.

J.K. Place

Spanish Steps in Rome

Right in the heart of Rome, just back from the river and a five-minute stroll from the Spanish Steps, J.K. Place is one of the city’s sexiest sleeps. Lodged in Rome’s former school of architecture, this five-star boutique hotel reveals impeccable style in its minimal yet sumptuous interiors, with bold prints, retro-cool furnishings, and pops of vibrant color.

The rooms and suites are grown-up, understated and streamlined, with framed artworks on the walls, a palette of soft greys and creams, bronze mirrors, and the odd antique. Some feature balconies. They come with such luxuries as Bose sound systems and complimentary minibars. Classic rooms are fairly compact. For more space and style, upgrade to a deluxe or master balcony room, with handmade rosewood canopy beds, walk-in closets, and marble bathrooms.

Delicious pastries and fresh fruit appear at breakfast, and J.K. Café is an informal, bistro-style setting for pasta, salads, and burgers prepared with market-fresh produce.

Hotel San Anselmo 

The luxurious interior of a room at Hotel San Anselmo (Photo courtesy of Aventino Hotels)

A rare haven of tranquility in Rome, Hotel San Anselmo takes pride of place in the gentrified neighborhood of Aventine, the southernmost of the city’s seven hills. Occupying a 19th-century villa, it captures all the grace of a bygone era in its near-palatial interiors, rich with brocades, gilded furnishings, crystal chandeliers, and damask-draped beds. The romantic rooms are honeymoon material, with lavish décor and marble or mosaic-tiled bathrooms.

When the weather is fine, you can start the morning with seasonal fruits and homemade pastries in the courtyard garden, scented with oleander and oranges.

Though peaceful, the district is well placed for exploring the markets and synagogue of the Jewish Ghetto, and is just over a 10-minute walk from the Circo Massimo and Piramide metro stops

Hotel Barocco 

Piazza Barberini in Rome

Sitting pretty on one of Rome’s most beautiful squares, fountain-splashed Piazza Barberini, Hotel Barocco is a tasteful conversion of two historic townhouses. The atmosphere is discreet, despite the winningly central location, and the décor a subtle fusion of modern-meets-baroque.

Neutral, earthy colors, shimmering drapes, plush fabrics, and antique furnishings give the 37 rooms and suites distinctive flair. Marble bathrooms with robes and slippers come as standard, while splashing out on a deluxe room ups the romance with a canopy bed. The ultimate indulgence, however is the Junior Suite with its own rooftop terrace, sauna, and outdoor hot tub looking out over the piazza.

Besides this, there’s an intimate bar for a drink, a full concierge service, and activities from cooking courses to ‘gelato and espresso’ walking tours can be arranged. Breakfast is a fine American-Italian spread of fruits, cereals, cakes, bacon and eggs, cold meats and cheeses.

This is a terrific area for strolling, just around the corner from the designer boutiques and bars on Via Veneto.

The Inn at the Spanish Steps

 Trinità dei Monti in Rome

Gaze out across the Spanish Steps and the Trinità dei Monti from the bougainvillea-draped roof terrace of The Inn at the Spanish Steps. The inn itself was built in a historic monument dating to 1760, once home to Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, but they also have a sprinkling of luxe penthouses and serviced apartments in the vicinity.

Outside is the Rome of a million postcards, with Via Condotti, the Italian capital’s most fashionable street, right on the doorstep. Inside the décor is a playful intermingling of original features, contemporary fabrics, and rich hits of color. Rooms are individually designed, but you can expect such luxuries as Etro toiletries and free tea, coffee, and water. Some of the deluxe rooms come with original 17th-century frescoed ceilings and hot tubs.

At sundown, the rooftop terrace is the place to watch Rome light up over a cocktail and complimentary snacks.

G-Rough 

Piazza Navona, Rome

An ode to cutting-edge 20th century Italian designers, G-Rough is a one-off. It’s the brainchild of owner Gabriele Salini, a seventh generation Roman with a razor-sharp eye for design that blurs the lines between nostalgia and post-modernism in an 18th century building. Trendy without trying too hard, the pared-back suites are a breath of fresh air from the flouncy interiors you’ll find elsewhere in Rome: distressed walls festooned with playful art, retro-baroque furnishings, brightly colored velvet sofas and mosaic-tiled bathrooms. The facilities are top notch, too, with Smeg mini fridges.

The mood here is deliberately low-key, intimate, and discreet, but if you want a massage, a late breakfast in your room or an alternative tour of Rome (Vespa rides, a day in the life of a designer, and the like), just say the word. There’s a hip bar for hanging out over carefully picked wines and cocktails.

The location is lively, just across the way from Pasquino, Rome's best-known 'talking statue' and monumental Piazza Navona.

Nerva

The captivating ruins of the Roman Forum

Sitting opposite the Forum of Augustus, this gorgeous little boutique hotel is just five minutes’ walk from the Colosseum. Rome is right on your doorstep at Nerva, where contemporary Italian design and limited edition artworks and photographs put a modern spin on a historic townhouse. 

The family that owns Nerva go above and beyond to make your stay memorable, with five-star décor and service for three-star prices. Whether you need a private guide or a personal shopper, just say the word.

The rooms offer bright pops of color, sleek Italian linen, pendant lights, and dark marble bathrooms. In the mood to splurge? Opt for the Master Suite, which comes with its own living room with fireplace, and jacuzzi bathtub.

Breakfasts are lovingly prepared, with pressed juice, coffee and eggs to order, freshly baked pastries and cakes, and homemade preserves.

Portrait Roma

A suite with a view at Portrait Roma (Photo courtesy of Lungarno Collection)

Living proof that good things come in small packages, the 14-suite Portrait Roma brings together the look and feel of a private mansion with the service of a five-star hotel.

A stone's throw from the designer stores of Via Condotti and the Spanish Steps, this hyper-luxe property makes a superb base for exploring Rome's historic center. From the roof terrace, you can sip cocktails by the fireplace with the whole of Rome spreading out photogenically before you. Breakfast is served up here and it's a view you'll want to leap out of bed early for, trust us.

The chic suites are done out in soft neutrals, with wood floors, framed prints, and huge marble bathrooms featuring signature Ferragamo toiletries. There are welcome extras like DVD players and iPhone docks, designed to make you feel at home—and wish it were.