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The Grand Tour Inspires the Sumptuous Design of Rome’s Rocco Forte Hotel de la Ville

photography courtesy of ROCCO FORTE HOTEL DE LA VILLE

Hotel de la Ville
Enviable and extravagant design make Rocco Forte Hotel de la Ville as destination-worthy as Rome, Italy’s most iconic attractions.

Inspired by the Grand Tour of the 18th and 19th centuries, when European nobles journeyed to cities like Rome, Venice, and Paris in search of culture, architecture and the arts, renowned Italian architect Tommaso Ziffer has created a modern Roman masterpiece with his design of  Rocco Forte Hotel de la Ville.

Unveiled June of 2019, the luxe hotel sits atop the ICONIC Spanish Steps, within easy reach of Rome, Italy’s most desired attractions. And since its opening, it has found itself on the list of those attractions. Guests gather from dusk until dawn for a rooftop seat at the hotel’s glamorous Cielo Terrace where the whole of Rome is exposed in its ancient and modern glory. And within the vibrant and whimsical Julep Print Room, visitors find intrigue in the digitally reproduced art that mimics the prints that Grand Tourists might have collected during their journeys. 

In designing the luxurious interiors, Ziffer collaborated closely with Olga Polizzi, Rocco Forte Hotels Director of Design, visionary for each of Rocco Forte’s 13 hotels worldwide and co-founder of the brand with her brother Sir Rocco Forte, who serves as Chairman and CEO. Polizzi and Ziffer chose to meld contemporary aspects with the classic and extravagant design of what was formerly an 18th century palazzo, where only the original marble staircase remains. 


Ziffer’s interiors take guests on a playful voyage of their own, with a bold collection of precious materials, furnishings and unique decorative items. Handmade wallpaper from Roman designers Rubelli and Dedar, and rich Italian fabrics and tapestries from Zardi & Zardi are juxtaposed with ‘antiquated’ design elements created using new technologies.

An imposing Roman marble trapezophorus, traditionally found in ancient Roman palazzos, takes the place of a traditional concierge desk, while the black and white geometric lobby floor, interwoven with handmade terracotta from Umbria, is reminiscent of typical monochrome flooring found in English mansions of the 18th and 19th centuries, where the Grand Tourists would return to install their new collections of antiquities. Light blue walls, embellished with stone columns and Roman ruins, and a set of ‘mirroirs sorcières’ hanging across the passage to the staircase, add a whimsical quality to one’s first impression.

Ziffer has interpreted the graphic shapes of Roman paving in a more refined manner, closely emulating the neoclassicism style that emerged in the mid-18th century. The designer substituted traditional marble with terracotta, partnering with Fornace Sugaroni, a company that has produced handmade terracotta since 1865, to create the special black and white terracotta pigment for the hotel.

Hotel de la Ville

This appreciation for nuanced detail extends throughout the hotel, including the elevators, where paisley, green foliage and studded leather patterns are printed on the glass screens, providing guests a visual feast between the hotel’s seven stories and 104 spacious and elegant rooms and the signature suites that offer unrivaled panoramic views of the city from their large terraces.

Ziffer’s design of these guest rooms and suites includes jewel-toned colors and rich, textural fabrics. Ancient Roman design elements of Greek neoclassical geometry and Roman keys are featured on the studded mini bars and are worked into the plush velvet headboards of the beds. Luxuriant, handmade Indian wool bed throws add texture. Chinese vases pose as night-lights and handsome Chinese dressers, or chinoiseries, are a testament to the impression the Grand Tour had on architecture and design far beyond Europe. To create contrast with the soft color palette of the rooms, colorful sofas and armchairs sit on graphic black and white rugs. This bold, geometric motif also takes center-stage in the large marble bathrooms that feature deluxe sizes of Irene Forte bath products.

At the center of the hotel is the enchanting courtyard, a retreat hidden away from the hustle and  bustle just outside. Utilizing design inspired by the simple geometry of 17th century gardens, and in keeping with the Grand Tour concept, the space features obelisks, greenery, and black and gold touches, romanticized with lighting evocative of ancient candle-lit spaces.


Hotel de la Ville

The hotel’s 6,000 square foot Irene Forte Spa offers additional sanctuary and is the most technically advanced in Rome, Italy, providing relaxing and indulgent treatments carried out by an expert team of therapists using Irene Forte Skincare products (daughter of Sir Rocco Forte). This luxuriously tranquil retreat features a salt room, steam, sauna, hot and cold pools, and a relaxation room with heated, zero-gravity chaise lounges. It is simply sublime.

Commenting on Ziffer’s vision for the hotel, Polizzi said, “The Grand Tour heavily influenced European design, and Italy played a major part in this – the term ‘The Grand Tour,’ from which originated the term ‘tourist,’ was introduced by Richard Lassels in his 1670 book Voyage to Italy. The country was key to the Grand Tourist’s voyage, and Rome, Italy was at the heart of it all. It made sense for us to celebrate this important part of Italian history in the design of Rocco Forte Hotel de la Ville.

“Rome will forever be one of the top destinations in the world for both business and leisure travelers,” Sir Rocco Forte said. “It embodies the intricacies and wonders of Italy throughout the ages whilst being perfectly contemporary. I am so proud of Hotel de la Ville; it has all the vibrancy and elegance of this extraordinary city.”

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