I had four separate stays at the Westin Excelsior in Rome as part of a work project located outside of the city. I would check out each Friday and return back on Sunday nights, traveling to other parts of Italy on the weekends. This is part two of a four part Italy trip report:
1)Alitalia JFK-FCO A330 Magnifica Business Class
2)Westin Excelsior, Rome x4
3)Hilton Sorrento Palace – Sorrento, Italy
4)Hotel Marina Riviera, Amalfi, Italy
5)Hotel Cala di Volpe, Costa Smeralda – An SPG Luxury Collection Hotel
Westin Excelsior – SPG Category 6 (20,000 points per night)
Check-Ins: My first check-in had me arriving at about 9am after a flight from New York. My room was not yet ready but my bag was stored and I was asked to provide my US mobile number and expect a call within 2-3 hours. My Platinum status was not mentioned but the front desk did state that my room had been upgraded. I handed off my bags and grabbed my laptop and camera before making my way to the sitting area off the lobby. Think old world palace mixed in with a little bit of European charm. I opened up my MacBook Air and responded to emails for about 15 minutes and then headed out for a walk. The hotel has an amazing location, situated on Via Veneto and just a short walk to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Borghese Gardens. I returned about two hours later after receiving a call from the front desk that my room was ready. On Sunday night trips, my room was always ready with my clothes and belongings that I had left in storage over the weekend already placed in my new room. I had a different room type each week but more on that below.
Rooms: Week 1 – Deluxe Room booked, upgraded 1 category to Grandluxe Room
Week 2- Deluxe Room booked, upgraded 2 categories to Red Junior Suite
Week 3- Deluxe Room booked, upgraded 3 categories to Grandluxe Suite
Week 4- Deluxe Room booked, upgraded 4 categories to Via Veneto Suite
No matter what room type you receive, you will either love or hate the decor. The Lovers – the rooms are very large and spacious when compared to other European hotel rooms. The bathrooms are enormous as well and some have great stand-up showers (others have tubs with a shower head that is OK). If you are into the classic old palace feel then you will love the rooms. We are talking chandeliers, fireplaces, turn of the century desks and chairs, glass and cloth covered night tables, and red or green silk paneled walls. The Haters – If you are used to a modern SPG property a la W or Le Meridien, you are in for a shock. Some members of my team described the rooms as old and gaudy, with worn out carpets, uncomfortable chairs, rusty lamps, and a “classic” smell. You also won’t like the lack of outlets, as the rooms weren’t designed for today’s technology. If you want to plug in your laptop, iPhone, etc., you’ll need to unplug a lamp or two. The good news is you should have lamps on either side of your bed for easy access to a plug. Don’t expect any free water in the room either, even if you are an SPG elite member. You also won’t like that most king rooms have two twin beds pushed together to form a king with about an inch of separation between them (though the beds were certainly comfortable when not in the crack). When first exploring the beds in my first room, I found it interesting that they are topped with bathroom towels and then made up with the bedding. The same was true in all my rooms. When I asked housekeeping about it, I learned that this is to protect the mattress from “liquid” seepage…YUM! As far as SPG benefits, expect a fruit basket on arrival, free wifi(check you bill as internet sometimes makes it back on your folio), and 500 points in your SPG account. I wasn’t even given a choice of other welcome amenities and was told that they normally just deposit the 500 points as that’s what most guests want. The points did all post correctly.
What I Liked:
The staff is truly excellent and treat each guest amazingly well. There is always a bellman opening the door for you and the front desk staff greeted me by name after only two or three days into my trip. The concierge as well was very helpful and also knew my name surprisingly quick. However, the concierge seems to get a bad rap by many visitors, at least according to one of my colleagues who pulled some reviews off TripAdvisor and SPG’s own site which comment on the cockiness and unhelpful nature of the concierge desk. Again, I didn’t find this at all but there are several reported incidents. I would advise getting your own restaurant recommendations though as their suggestions are a little old and/or touristy. If you need a list of great authentic restaurants in Rome, send me an email. Housekeeping was solid and my room was always cleaned sufficiently, with the bathroom fully restocked each day.
My birthday happened to fall while I was away in Rome and the hotel went above and beyond. Look what was waiting in my room when I got home from work, along with a voice mail. The card was signed by the entire staff and they made light of the milestone birthday by adding about a decade! They even made sure to get a package from my family delivered up to the room at a specific requested time.
I absolutely hate re-packing but I was checking out each weekend. The bellman were great about this and anything that was on hangers in the closet was placed by the bellman on a luggage cart. Additionally, one suitcase was left with other clothes and belongings that I didn’t need for the weekend. They happily collected and stored everything on Fridays and would then place the items in my new room each Sunday before I even returned.
I actually liked all my rooms and didn’t mind living in a palace. It was a nice change from the trendy modernized SPG properties and when else am I ever going to have my own sitting room, private study, or French silk tapestries? Did I mention the balconies overlooking Via Veneto and other parts of Rome? Take a look at these views…
Now, I normally don’t eat in hotel restaurants, especially in Italy, but if you happen to be by the hotel one day during lunch, I definitely recommend checking out Dooney. The have a great sidewalk cafe on Via Veneto and an excellent lunch buffet with tasty Mediterranean seafood, pasta, salads, and desserts.
With Villa Borghese just up the street, I exercised in the park rather than at the gym. However, the gym certainly seemed adequate and there is a nice indoor pool.
The Westin Excelsior is a SPG category hotel, priced as low as 200E in the off season but averaging 300E or more per night during the high season. A standard room can be redeemed for 20,000 SPG points per night. The hotel is majestic with a ton of history and an amazing central location. Have you stayed at the Westin? What did you think – old world charm or renovation please?
Up next, Hilton Sorrento Palace