By Anita Draycott
Your basic hotel room in Rome is small by North American standards. Not so at the Gran Melia Rome Villa Agrippina, located in Trastevere just a five-minute walk from the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica. Rooms are spacious with special touches, such as pillow menus and rose petals sprinkled on your bath mat. A complimentary mobile phone makes it easy to explore, locate shops and restaurants and make calls. Expansive lawns, gardens and a swimming pool give the Gran Melia the feeling of being in a luxury resort in the center of the city.
Vivavoce (meaning word of mouth) is the signature restaurant of the Grand Melia Rome. The dining room is overseen by Alfonso Iaccarino, the master chef of Don Alfonso 1890 in Sant’Agata Sui Due Golfi, a Michelin-starred member of the Relais & Châteaux association near Sorrento. On my recent romp through Rome, Viva Voce’s executive chef, Alex Miceli, proved that he has learned his lessons well from Iaccarino.
Their philosophy is to bring the senses to life with Mediterranean cuisine that explodes with robust flavours using the finest, freshest seasonal products. My degustation began cappelletti pasta filled with a mixture of slow-cooked chicken thighs and late harvest onions. The main course was a tender baby beef filet in bread crust with Mozzarella, Irpina ham, sage and a generous shaving of black truffles. As long as you are in splurge mode, wash this down with a Super Tuscan Tignanello from the Antinori vineyards.
Also at the Gran Melia Rome, you’ll find one of the few “Spa My Blend by Clarins” in the world. Along with a variety of aromatherapy showers, steam and sauna, the spa offers the latest in skincare technology by Clarins. First your esthetician takes you through a quiz about your lifestyle (diet, exercise, stress), then she runs a scope over your face that shows hydration levels, firmness, pigmentation and wrinkles on the computer screen. Armed with this information, your esthetician can prescribe just the right creams and serums to improve your skin.