Hotel Eden, Rome
Photos, review article,
history, design, anecdotes
Article added on June 1, 2007
In October 1889, the hotelier Francesco Nistelweck, born
in Munich, had his dream come true: he opened the Hotel Eden in Rome at the
corner of Via Porta Pinciana and Via Ludovisi, furnished with many antiques
who found at the shops of local dealers.
At the end of the 19th century, travel by horse-drawn
carriages was replaced by the quicker and more comfortable train. The Roma
Termini train station had a strong advocate
in Pope Pius IX.
When Francesco Nistelweck had visited the affluent Ludovisi district some
years ago, he realized the potential for a luxury hotel in this area of
Francesco Nistelweck was not new to the hotel business. He had previously
managed the Hotel d'Inghilterra and the Hotel de Russie
(article in German). He ran the new exclusive accommodation together
with his wife Berta Hassler, the daughter of the owner of the famous Hotel
Hässler, which in those days was in Via Mario de' Fiori and only later moved
to its current location at the top of the Spanish Steps.
Francesco Nistelweck and his future father-in-law, Albert Hassler, opened
the hotel together, but their agreement stated that it was up to Nistelweck
to run it. They bought the property from the Prince of Piombino Boncompagni
Ludovisi, whose ancestors gave the street and the area its name.
In 1622, Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi built a magnificent villa on a vast area
inside the city walls ranging from the Porta Pinciano to the Porta Salaria
gates. By the 19th century, the 30 hectare property comprised many edifices,
splendid gardens and statues. In 1883, in spite of protests by Italian and
foreign men and women of culture, the Ludovisi area was transformed into a
new district destined to serve the new railway station.
Since its beginnings in the last decades of the 18th century, the Grand Tour
was a must but not only for the British aristocracy. At the time of the
opening of Hotel Eden, Rome had become a travel destination not only for the
British aristocracy and artists from around the world, but for bourgeois
Hotel Eden in Rome was an instant success with its prime location, a lift,
electricity, heating and running water. In 1899, additional apartments,
including those in Via Porta Pinciana and, in 1902, an additional floor were
added because the luxury hotel had become a favorite destination of the rich and
famous. The guestbook records the names of the Grand Duchess Olga of Russia,
Princess Teresa of Bavaria, King Alfonso XIII of Spain, Prince Paolo of Serbia,
Queen Amelia of Portugal and Umberto of Savoy, to name just a few.
Gabriele d'Annunzio set his masterpiece, Il Piacere, coincidentally
published in 1889, the year of the hotel opening, in the area of the Spanish
Steps. The previous year, together with Eleonora Duse, the poet was a guest
of the Hotel Eden.
Between 1919 and 1923, Sigmund Freud paid several long visits to Rome,
staying at Hotel Eden. The German television has covered the story in an
acclaimed documentary which reconstructs the life of the Father of Modern
A famous photograph of 1935 shows the Princess Maria of Bourbon, the mother
of King Juan Carlos of Spain, in her wedding dress leaving the Hotel Eden
the day of her wedding to the Prince Giovanni of Asturia.
The wars also left their marks on the hotel, which after the Liberation
became the headquarters of the English Command. The infamous Vice-Chancellor
of the German Reich, von Papen, as well as Mussolini's minister Dino Grandi
signed the Golden Book. Two famous rivals of the Second World War left their
signatures on the same page: the German General Rommel in 1941 and the
British Field Marshal Montgomery in 1955, signing with
“Montgomery of Alamein F.M.”
After the First World War, Francesco Nistelweck shared the management of the
Hotel Eden with the shareholder Oscar Wirth who, in 1936, together with the
Nistelwecks, also managed the Hotel Hässler.
The two hotels then separated, with the Wirth family running the Hotel
Hässler and Giuseppe and Gianfranco Caceri, brothers and grandsons of
Nistelweck, running the Hotel Eden.
One of the most famous guests of the post-war era was the Italian film
director Federico Fellini. When journalists asked them for an interview, he
would give them an appointment on the
Eden's terrace, which became a sort of
dépendence of his home in the Via Margutta. The concierge Maurizio
knew that when the maestro left his coat, hat and signature red scarf in the
cloakroom it meant that he was expecting guests at his usual terrace table
Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman used to stay at the hotel and to take
their twins out on bicycles. Their daughter Isabella Rossellini remained so
attached to the hotel that she spent the first night of her marriage to
director Martin Scorsese at the Eden.
The hotel was a hot favorite not only of Fellini and Rossellini, but of many
actors too, including
Orson Welles, Alex Guinness, Omar Sharif, Julie Christie,
and Jean-Paul Belmondo, to name a few. Other famous artists staying in the
hotel include Ernest Hemingway,
Maria Callas (article
in German) and Enrico Mattei, who lived ten years at Hotel Eden in the
second floor suite with the large terrace overlooking Villa Ludovisi.
In 1992, Hotel Eden was closed for a thirty billion lire renovation which
lasted for two years. The former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher
officially reopened the hotel on September 1, 1994. She was a personal
friend of the then hotel owner Forte.
Famous couples who stayed at Hotel Eden in recent years include Tome Cruise
Kidman as well as Kevin Klein and Phoebe Cates;
both couples chose Suite 515 with its splendid view. Emma Thompson and
Kenneth Branagh as well as Matt Damon and Wynona Ryder preferred the privacy
of Suite 201 with its large terrace overlooking Villa Ludovisi. Another
celebrity couple spending nights together in the Roman hotel include singer
Eros Ramazzotti and Michelle Hunziker.
The list of other famous actors staying at the hotel includes Woody Allen,
Pierce Brosnan, Richard Gere, Jeff Goldblum, Johnny Depp, Robert de Niro,
Merryll Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jane Fonda.
An important restyling of the Eden took place in 2004/2005. The
intimacy was maintained on the new Ambassador Floor designed by the Roman
architect Lorenzo Bellini. Antique furniture, frescos, columns, mosaics,
carpets, drapes and exclusive fabrics, paintings, porcelains and Italian,
Greek and Spanish marble bathrooms in green, pink, grey and beige give each
room a unique flair.
Double locking with two doors provides more privacy, make-up mirrors with an
in-built bulb, Quercus amenities by
TV sets with a large variety of international
channels and Sky TV for sports fans are other winning features of the rooms.
I enjoyed the Doppia Lusso 521 with a nice view of Rome.
In 2004/2005 a 200m2 Penthouse apartment in a contemporary style reminiscent
of the 1930s and 1940s was added. The sober design with clear lines was a
project of the current General Manager Marcel Lévy, who successfully runs
the elegant and quiet five-star hotel since 1999.
Maurizio Pangrazi, concierge at the Eden under the Caceri brothers from 1964
to 1988 and head concierge at the Eden since the Forte Management in 1998,
told me that the Wirth family of the Hotel Hässler lived in the Eden until
Maurizio also had one of hundreds of untold anecdotes for me. One about
Mickey Rourke, who stayed at the Eden in the 1980s while shooting a film
about the life of San Francesco di Assisi. One afternoon, returning from the
set, still in the costume of San Francesco, an American friend waited for
Rourke in front of the hotel with his Harley Davidson. The actor borrowed
the Harley for a quick ride, but took the wrong direction in the one way
street. Bad luck had posted two policemen in the Via Ludovisi who stopped
Rourke and wanted to see his papers. Maurizio just arrived in time on the
scene in order to explain that the English speaking man in the strange
outfit on the Harley was not a dangerous nutcake but a famous actor.
Maurizio also took a picture of himself and then Texas Governor George W.
Bush - who has traveled more to Europe than one may think because I found
his trace in other luxury hotels too. The concierge told the American
politician jokingly that one day he would be able to say he had a photograph
showing him with the American President. Maurizio had no idea how
foreseeing he was.
The concierge also remembers one of the rare moments when the Eden could not
uphold its discretion and stood in the limelight: after their concert in
Rome, the Spice Girls were followed by hundreds of fans who gathered in
front of the hotel. From the balcony of Suite 208, the Spice Girls sang one
of their hits for the crowd.
Last but not least, let's return to what the Eden is very proud of: its bar,
which was awarded for two consecutive years with the Prix Villégiature
“Best Bar in a Hotel in Europe”,
and of its restaurant
La Terrazza dell'Eden, which disserves a Michelin star,
according to my own testing.
Le Eden Hotel, the Starwood Hotel located at Via Ludovisi 49 and a member
of The Leading Hotels of the World, remains one of Rome's top five-star
addresses for elegancy, service and discretion.
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The meeting room
“Ludovisi”. Photos © Hotel
Hotel Eden with its terracotta façade.
Photos © Hotel Eden, Rome.
The Penthouse bedroom. Photos © Hotel Eden, Rome.
The Penthouse living room. Photos © Hotel Eden, Rome.
A marble bathroom as in my Doppia lusso room 521 . Photos © Hotel Eden,
A double de luxe room. Photos © Hotel Eden, Rome.
Another double de luxe room. Photos © Hotel Eden, Rome.
The bedroom in a suite. Photos © Hotel Eden, Rome.
The living room in a suite. Photos © Hotel Eden, Rome.
The exercise room with TechnoGym equipment. Photos © Hotel Eden, Rome.