Piazza della Trinità dei Monti, 6, 00187 Roma RM, Italy - ☏ +39 06 699340 - www.hotelhasslerroma.com
A French aristocrat sits with his Japanese wife at lunch in the hotel’s Salone Eva. Whispering, they converse about the food and the premises without ever exchanging glances. The elaborate spiral-shaped pattern on the ceiling and stately Bordeaux red velvet armchairs provide a splendid setting for this quiet tête-à-tête amongst floral-patterned curtains. Although the couple has the room all to themselves, this dampened volume is emblematic of the almost intimidating elegance of the Hotel Gassler, and this should be at all costs respected.
The service team, on the other hand, creates a somewhat contrasting mood with its peculiar mixture of Swiss seriousness, which is certainly prescribed by the management, and the more local Italian exaltation. One is eyed as a guest, which, in a positive sense, can suggest attention and a certain familiar atmosphere but can also give the feeling that one is being assessed or controlled in certain moments. This may be due to the prominent location of the hotel directly on the Spanish Steps, the daily destination of countless tourists, who possibly get lost and enter the hotel as a not quite desired guest. And yet, the hustle and bustle on the other side of the door feels like a world away as one sits at the Bar Hassler nipping on a first-class Bellini.
The hotel is full of little lovely details that make it clear that the house is still privately owned. The personal and at times very unusual taste of the owner and manager Robert Wirth dictates, who, deaf from birth, is heir to the Swiss hotel family that founded the Hassler. Yet the absence of the monotony of luxury hotel chains is what gives this hotel its unique charm. Grace Kelly, who once spent her honeymoon here, would still feel right as rain here, time seems to have stopped, if one excludes the accumulation of Russian and Arabic guests at the breakfast buffet. An invisible bustling prevails in the entire house, it seems as if there were cleaning and carpentry behind every door, and there’s room for a little drama here and there. When a single half-withered rose is discovered during room inspection, the employee responsible confronts one of the cleaning ladies and a lively discussion develops as to who should dispose of the derelict plant. The guest shouldn’t forget that he is still in Italy. PK