Words by Luke Abrahams
There’s no place like Rome, especially when you hold one of the three keys to Palazzo Vilòn’s recently (and sensitively) restored suites – which thankfully have still retained their palatial proportions and grandeur of days gone by. Luke Abrahams checks in for a Roman holiday like no other – with all the bells and whistles of Hotel Vilòn included, a luxury stay just a courtyard-passeggiata away.
Rome is having a moment, and Palazzo Vilòn is very much a part of it. In rabbinic Hebrew, the word vilon literally translates to ‘hidden veil’, and in the context of this sprawling mini Versailles, one to be blown aside to reveal the first of the seven heavens. And what a heaven it is. Palatial to a tee, the historical palazzo is a unique jewel in the Italian capital’s already glittering crown offering a unique hotel living experience quite like no other.
Set the scene…
Say a great big ciao to the very pomp Palazzo Vilòn. The vibe is ‘live like the Roman aristocracy’ for a few nights in the very building built by the noble Borghese family (the same family that created Villa Borghese and Galleria Borghese). Until only recently this fancy pad remained the elusive home of a famous film producer until he moved out and sold his demi-palace to the Shedir Collection, a luxury hotel collective that also manages the neighbouring Hotel Vilòn and another glittering stay on the Amalfi Coast.
It’s Donatella Versace meets Michelangelo. There’s lots of print; lots of gold; lots of marble; lots of statues; and lots of dizzying frescoes. In short, Palazzo Vilòn is one of those Roman holiday rarebies: an exclusively private and exceptionally well-preserved palatial abode that is refreshingly interesting. Up until its completion in 1678, the Palazzo Borghese (its fancy hereditary familial name) was considered to be one of Rome’s finest trinkets, and to this day, an honour to behold.
”In short, Palazzo Vilòn is one of those Roman holiday rarebies: an exclusively private and exceptionally well-preserved palatial abode that is refreshingly interesting.
Tell us about the rooms…
There’s 1,000 square metres spread over three floors to play with in these regal boudoirs. Despite its mammoth size, you’ll only find three rooms here, all one-of-a-kind in character and quirks. There’s one on the first floor crowned by dazzling motifs; a second hidden away in the former chapel; and a third mammoth apartment overlooking the inner courtyard of the Palazzo Borghese (views of ornate fountain and citrus blossoms included).
All the exquisitely ornate interiors have been reimagined by Milan-based architect and contemporary dandy whizz Giampiero Panepinto. The result is dashingly eclectic, albeit a bit bling (pack sunglasses to shield your eyes from all the polished treasures). Think ceilings festooned with mind-boggling scribes of 24-carat gold leaf, ornate museum-esque mirrors, swathes of vintage mid-century furniture (all Italian, of course) mini avenues of busts and the odd bit of storied portraiture crowned by a fresco or two.
The food and drink?
Thanks to the rather large price tag of staying the night here, butler service is a given. All the grub is whipped up in the kitchens of palazzo neighbour Hotel Vilòn, courtesy of the trendy Adelaide restaurant and bar. The menu gets its inspiration from Italian and Roman classics (spaghetti cacio e pepe, spaghetti alla carbonara, rigatoni all’amatriciana and more), plus regional classics. It’s all served to eat in the palazzo’s ostentatious Galleria degli Specchi. Expect 40 seats and a mirrored surface designed to stop you from getting gawp-inducing whiplash after drooling over the space’s marvellous Renaissance ceiling.
Anything else to note?
The location is excellent. You are minutes away from the Spanish Steps, the Via del Corso, Roman Forum and the Trevi Fountain. Cross the bridge and you’ll be at the foot of the Vatican in less than 10 minutes, and all the little streets in between are gloriously photogenic.
Luke Abrahams is a London-based freelance journalist specialising in news, luxury lifestyle, and travel features. Luke was previously the Features Social Media Editor at the London Evening Standard. His work has appeared in more than 25 UK and US publications, including British Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, The Times, Town & Country, The Telegraph, Condé Nast Traveller, Time Out, House & Garden, Suitcase, Elite Traveler, Insider, and more. So far, Luke has visited 83 countries. His favourite is Italy, and it always will be..