Trip Report Westin Excelsior Rome – Revisited…Any Improvements?

by Adam

I last visited and blogged about the Westin Excelsior Rome last September, ending that post with “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 or 10,000 SPG points and $180. The hotel is majestic with a ton of history and an amazing central location but what did you think – old world charm or renovation please?” You can read that full original review here.

After that post, I received several emails including one from the hotel noting that renovations were in the works but that the hotel really shines for its history and noting that “there’s no more special place to stay in Rome”. Well, 15 months later has anything changed?

This is the second part of an eight part trip report from my travels to Rome and Siracusa, Sicily:

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Check-Ins: My flight got in quite early and I arrived at the hotel before 9am. I had reserved the lowest level room, a deluxe room, but I was warmly welcomed back, thanked for my Platinum status, and told that I had been upgraded to a suite. Awesome! It wasn’t a complete surprise as I had been following my reservation on the SPG app, seeing the upgrade first to a Grand Luxe Room and then later to a Grand Luxe Suite.

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Not only that, but the front desk called housekeeping and the room was ready, even before 9am! The check-in agent actually walked me up to my room to make sure I was happy with the upgrade. Unfortunately, upon entering the room the smell of smoke was present, very present! Funnily enough, the agent told me she did not smell anything, but that she smokes so she wouldn’t. She called up three colleagues, who all smelled nothing as well, all also admitting that they were smokers…HAH we are in Italy! They offered to move my room if I wanted or they could bring up an air purifier. I knew the purifier wasn’t going to do much as the room smelled like it had been smoked in for the past 50 years. After a quick call by the agent to a manager I was moved to another suite. The only problem…it had two twin beds instead of “two twins join together as King”. Before we move on to that room, I did capture a few pics of the original suite which had a bedroom, foyer, separate living room, two full bathrooms, and some very nice views…

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Bathroom 1 – heated floors and towel rack

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Bathroom two across the foyer…

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Separate living room…

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This was hidden behind the desk but I remember from my last visit to pull it out, otherwise you’ll find minimal outlets in the room, besides two at the desk…that’s it!

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Now, you can see that the room has that old room charm (and most of the rooms at the Westin have the green decor or a similar design in red). I think what I said during my last visit still holds true – 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. 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). 

So yea, that renovation never happened and there doesn’t appear to be one in the works. But hey, no one cares. This hotel still has one of the best reputations in Rome, it’s an institution. You’ll find that out with your first taxi ride. When you tell the driver where your staying, they always say – “oh wow, the Excelsior (no one calls it the Westin), it’s fantastic isn’t it? One of the nicest hotels we have here in the city.” It’s undeniable that the locals love it. It’s the place to be seen. There were so many events held at the hotel each night, each drawing nicer and nicer cars and according to the hotel – some of Rome’s most famous celebrities and politicians.

OK, on to that next suite. Despite the two twin beds, I really enjoyed this suite so much more. It was off the main staircase instead of the back one, had an extremely grand entrance, amazing views of Via Veneto, and a much more modern bathroom (still with heated floors and towel racks), bathrooms I should say:

Landing from the staircase right outside my room…

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That nook to the right of this picture has the double doors that open into my suite…

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Welcome gift

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Views and balcony below to Via Veneto:

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Separate living room, take a look at all the waters on that table. Unlike my last visit, water service was amazing this time. Each day two bottles were placed in the living room and two in the bedroom. Another two plastic bottles were in the bathroom and during turndown another two smaller bottles were provided. No need to hide your water either LOL, they leave new bottles regardless of whether you’ve used the ones previously left.

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Entrance and foyer:

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Huge lack of outlets in the room besides this one all the way at the desk, useless for using your laptop on one of the beds. You’re going to have to unplug one of the bedroom lamps or you might also want to relocate the surge protector from behind the TV).

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Bathroom one, much more modern than the last suite with a gigantic shower area.

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I still mainly found the staff to be excellent, especially the agent who checked me in. Several of the front desk staff recognized me and greeted me by name just a day or so into the trip, and that was common for everyone I stayed with. Less nice things to say about the concierge. They can be a bit surly (and lazy) at times, I’d also avoid their restaurant recommendations which tend to be quite touristy. I’ll be doing a separate post on the amazing restaurants I visited this time around, but feel free to shoot me an email as well.

Here’s an example of that laziness, I gave the hotel eight restaurants to book reservations for me. They sent a letter to my room noting that they could not complete the request for ANY of the restaurants as they were all closed or not answering the phone. Hmm, maybe because they called at 10am in the morning. Instead, they recommended that I see them for new restaurant recommendations. I of course called all eight on my own that afternoon and made reservations without a problem:

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Breakfast could be selected as a platinum welcome amenity and was served at the Doney restaurant. It was quite nice including a great buffet, prosecco, and items for special order (omelets, pancakes, etc.).

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Overall, I still really like the hotel, though I do feel it could maintain that majestic feeling and have a bit more modern rooms. That said, the staff was great, the views from my room amazing, the housekeeping and water service excellent, the size of the suites (and rooms) fantastic, the ease of upgrade amazing (did not post about coming to the hotel prior to arrival), and the location is unbeatable – situated on Via Veneto and just a short walk to the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Borghese Gardens. Arriving back at the hotel at night, you truly do feel like you are staying somewhere special and important to the city with a ton of history. PS – Also important to note that the suites I was upgraded to retail for EUR 1400-2300 per night for most of the year.

OK all that said, I have to say that I also very much enjoyed my stay just two months earlier at the Marriott Autograph Boscolo Palace, located diagonally across the street from the Westin. This is a hotel with a past (not quite the past nor is it the place to be seen today like the Excelsior) but it is a hotel that completely refurbished the rooms and common areas less than a year ago. Check out that review here – Trip Report – Marriott Autograph Boscolo Palace Roma – New Favorite Rome Hotel

Oh, and final thing. If one night you don’t feel like going for a sit down dinner. You must check out Cafe Lotti (make a right outside the hotel, then your second right walking towards Borghese Gardens). A cute older couple runs the cafe and makes fresh Italian dishes each day. They are cheap and delicious. You can eat them there or ask for takeaway to bring back to your Westin suite ;-). I hadn’t visited them in over two years, and they still remembered me when I walked in and were super excited that I had come back.

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JustSaying December 24, 2013 - 4:58 pm

How does this compare to the Cavalieri

Mary Elizabeth December 24, 2013 - 8:53 pm

or the st. regis?

Tyler December 24, 2013 - 9:10 pm

How does it compare to the st Regis? I am debating between the two

Todd December 24, 2013 - 9:26 pm

Great post. Two years ago we stayed at the Marriott Grand Flora just up the street and it was amazing. The location is one of the best. Please also note that the cafe lotti also has very good espresso and cafe latte. Yum! Your post makes me want to go back.

Flyerdad December 24, 2013 - 10:39 pm

One more vote for the Excelsior/St. Regis showdown-both are same category and we are also trying to decide where to blow our SPG points this summer.

adam December 26, 2013 - 6:54 am

@Flyerdad, Tyler, Mary Elizabeth, JustSaying – Unfortunately, I haven’t stayed at the St. Regis. Interestingly enough, there’s never been an award room available at the St. Regis during my mostly last minute stays. What I do know is that the St. Regis is in a great location as well and less than a 10 minute walk to the Westin. Rooms are “traditional too” but as per my colleague, a bit more updated. For next summer, it appears that most days the price difference is only about EUR 19 per day while SPG points are the same at 20K per nt…the Westin seems to have more dates available with Cash & Points (10K plus $180), though you can find the rate at the St. Regis as well with a little flexibility.

Carl December 25, 2013 - 11:38 am

When I stayed here, I really enjoyed the location and the generous size of the rooms. As with any older hotel often there is a shortage of outlets and some of the furnishings show wear, but it has character and feels gracious. Plus due to the building restrictions in Rome there are few modern hotels in the historic areas, and prices can be quite high. When you can get the Excelsior for a good price, it is one of the best choices


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