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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 Rome.

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 tourists too.

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 Psychology.

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 overlooking Rome.

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 Peter Ustinov, Orson Welles, Alex Guinness, Omar Sharif, Julie Christie, Sean Connery 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 and
Nicole 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
Penhaligon's, 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 1964.

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 as the
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 Eden, Rome.

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, Rome.

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.

The bedroom in the Presidential Suite. Photos © Hotel Eden, Rome.

The elegant lounge Il Salotto. Photos © Hotel Eden, Rome.


Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages

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© Copyright  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.