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Hotel de Russie, Rome 

9 Via del Babuino
Tel: 39 06 328 881
view web site ›'s insider take:

When the historic De Russie reopened in 2000 after extensive renovations, it was the first in a new generation of Roman hotels, a neoclassical landmark with refreshing, Deco-tinged contemporary design, courtesy of Rocco Forte's sister Olga Polizzi and Italian architect Tommaso Ziffer. Rooms mix Robert Mapplethorpe flower photos with crisp white chaise longues; the best have long, thin terraces that overlook the rooftops of nearby Via Margutta. Right off Piazza del Popolo, the 125-room property's real trump card is its magnificent garden, which rises up the slopes of the Pincio hill on a series of palm-shaded and statue-strewn terraces, home to a butterfly sanctuary. The elegant Stravinskij Bar (martinis are a specialty) moves outside in summer, complete with cheesy pianist. Owen Wilson, George Clooney, and Julia Roberts are among the stars who have chosen the De Russie, but be warned: Rates are punishing, rooms for mere mortals are often on the small side, and service can go into meltdown at peak times.

Appeared in the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List, a directory of the world's best hotels and resorts, in 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005

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