In busy Rome, a hotel that’s an oasis

  • Adam H. Graham
  • The New York Times
6:00 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017 Travel

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NH Collection Palazzo Cinquecento, Piazza dei Cinquecento 90, Rome; 39-06-492221,  


Rooms from $230 a night.  


Last year, NH Hotel Group, based in Madrid, launched an upscale brand, NH Collection, and opened this refurbished five-story Art Nouveau building (which once housed the headquarters of Rome’s railway and postal service), making it a signature property. The 177-room hotel adds an oasis of calm to Rome’s busy Termini train station. Its sunny terrace overlooks a green lawn strewn with ruins — a section of the fourth-century B.C. Servian Wall.  


The scrappy neighborhood teems with immigrants, tourists and underloved architectural highlights like Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica, Teatro Dell’ Opera and Piazza della Repubblica (home to an Eataly), all less than a 10-minute walk. Major sites like the Coliseum and Trevi Fountain are 30 minutes by foot. Arriving by car was difficult as the hotel is at the end of an unmarked road that’s only accessible via the station’s “Kiss and Drop” zone. But departing on foot to the station was an easy two-minute walk with my roller suitcase overstuffed with Italian wine and olive oil.  

The Room

I booked the cheapest Superior Double for two summer nights and was automatically upgraded on arrival by a trainee to a Junior Suite. The bed, dressed with white cotton sheets and down pillows, had an elaborate headboard with built-in reading lights, outlets and USB ports. A mauve velvet sofa with fuchsia piping and creamy leather swivel chairs added a sleek but slightly generic magazine modernism to the quiet, third-story room, while ash-colored wood floors, oversize mirrors, and empty desktops and corners lent it a clean minimalism atypical of Roman hotels. But after the first night, the room revealed its cut-rate quality: The sofa’s upholstery felt flimsy, the air conditioning wouldn’t go below 72 degrees on the 90-degree day of my stay, and light switches were an “all or nothing” hassle. Housekeeping tidied the room three times a day. I never saw them, but their trolleys lingered in the halls.  

The Bathroom  

The large bathroom with gray slate floors and faux slate walls featured a bidet, heated towel rack and a roomy glass-encased shower. The bathroom door fully closed and locked and an elongated marble sink counter was gloriously free of clutter. Upon my early check-in, there was only one bathrobe on the hook. Without asking, housekeeping brought a second one for my husband while we were out to lunch. Shampoo — NH-branded — was nothing special.  


In-room minibars were stocked with Marcona almonds, half-bottles of Chianti and Italian juices and beers for 5 euros. A coffee maker came with Lavazza coffee pods, but didn’t always work. In the airy, marble-tiled lobby were glass jars filled with dried fruit and decorative decanters with fruit-flavored water. Staff were by turns professional and brusque: Bellhops were quick to greet at the entrance, but sluggish to unload cars; reception doubled as a concierge offering rushed directions and restaurant recommendations while guests eager to check in or out queued behind. The basement has a tiny unmarked gym and several conference rooms and the rooftop includes an open-air bar.  


The hotel’s extensive dining area was especially comfortable. There were several plush sofas and big velvet chairs to sink into with a glass of wine after a day of sightseeing. A small terrace spilled out onto the gated green lawn. Twenty-four-hour room service included a very affordable menu of lasagna, rigatoni, pizza, sandwiches and salads. Breakfast, not included, cost 25 euros extra.  

Bottom Line  

Travelers arriving by train will appreciate the hotel’s quiet, easily accessed location. And those who have seen and done Rome’s main sights may appreciate its proximity to lesser-known ones. But the property’s obvious cost-cutting measures are a strike against longer stays and romantic getaways.