The big trip

Villa Agrippina Gran Meliá review: an urban oasis in Rome

The outdoor pool takes centre stage at this unrivalled city centre destination

Compared to the ancient Colosseum or the Roman Pantheon, a ten-year-old monument in the heart of Italy’s capital city may at first sound unremarkable. But Villa Agrippina Gran Meliá is a landmark that international visitors to Rome would be wise to take note of.

During the hotel’s reign over the Trastevere neighbourhood, a decade is of course no mean feat when many other accommodations have been shuffled out of the market by property rental companies, or forced to close due to the pandemic’s bludgeoning impact on the tourism industry.

The hotel that stands on the site of a former palace, however, only appears to look to what comes next. With stunning views, luxurious lounging areas and an al-fresco swimming pool that looks onto the Vatican City walls, it’s easy to see why the anniversary of its opening was cause for much celebration in April this year.

Rest

Any seasoned city-breaker will know that location truly is everything when time is of the essence – and it’d be hard to top Villa Agrippina for those keen to make the morning mass at St Peter’s Basilica, or after a romantic starlit stroll along the Tiber. The hotel is ideally located for visitors looking to explore the Eternal City by foot, as it is within a matter of minutes of some of Rome’s most iconic sites.

Villa Agrippina Gran Melia

With around 100 rooms and several suites, one of the only challenges guests will face when planning their trip is which accommodation option to opt for. The Classic and Premium rooms benefit from elegant design, comfortable beds, ample desk-space for those dabbling as a digital nomad, and bathrooms worthy of their own reviews. 

Be sure to book a room with a view, and hope that your ensuite has a circular bath with an overhead shower – I promise, it’s the closest you’ll get to experiencing Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus without hopping on a train to Florence.

Then, there are the suites. The Panoramic option does its name proud, with unrivalled views across the city’s skyline and ample space for outdoor recreation – whether that be a dip in the plunge pool to dinners backdropped by the sunset.

The Garden and Pool suites offer privacy for those looking to enjoy the hotel’s green space and bathing offerings unobserved – I was told they have been a hit with a number of Italian celebrities.

Villa Agrippina Gran Melia

Replenish

After a day of sightseeing or shopping, energy levels can be topped up at the hotel’s Clarins Spa. The tranquil space is light and airy, making it a perfect pit-stop to rest up, take a quick dip in the separate bathing area, or indulge in a signature treatment with expert therapists.

Or, if a full stint of relaxation is in order, spend the day by the pool – a rare find in the city. The deck has ample loungers and daybeds for maximal comfort, as well as a smaller Jacuzzi, if floating in the star attraction gets a little strenuous.

The pool at Villa Agrippina Gran Meliá in Rome

You’ll inevitably then need something to snack on – the Gala Pool Bar & Restaurant offers drinks, cocktails and light snacks that’ll do the trick until a feast at Ossimoro Restaurant begins. 

Executive chef Luciano Monosilio received a Michelin star at just 27 years-old – and has since been colloquially crowned the “King of Carbonara”. Bringing a contemporary approach to the recipes and culinary traditions that Italy is renowned for, diners can indulge in á la carte or tasting menus that they won’t forget in a hurry.

And as the Amaro bar is just a quick detour on the way back to guests’ rooms, it’d be unwise not to stop in for a speciality mix or classic cocktail. The converted church has had a colourful update, with many plush perches from which to refresh and people-watch.

Villa Agrippina Gran Melia

Get creative

A gem in this Spanish hotel brand’s fast-growing treasure trove, Villa Agrippina is forging closer ties with Gran Meliá Hotel & Resorts’ own heritage and history. 

The hotel has partnered with the Real Academia de España to exhibit works by the institute’s residents, with pieces chosen to complement the hotel’s artfully-designed interiors. Browse at your leisure to dip into the city’s creative currents before heading out to explore its world-leading galleries.

Rooms at Villa Agrippina Gran Meliá start from £489 per night on a B&B basis; melia.com

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