The Hotel Ritz has been a symbol of luxury and high society, ever since the hotel chain’s establishment in the late 1800s. However, after my (thankfully) short stay at the Grand Hotel Ritz, Roma- It’s safe to say that I was unsure of whether it was deserving of it’s prestigious reputation. My stay at the Grand Hotel Ritz spanned over the five day period that I spent in the city of Rome, Italy. My holiday was rather bitter sweet due to my love for the city but disappointment with the hotel; yet despite this, it didn’t damage the entire experience of my stay.
Whilst the Hotel Ritz’s enriched history is evident in the period styled rooms and old-fashioned painting scattered along the hallways, the hotel as a whole is a confused fusion of period and modern in all of the wrong places. My first discovery of this was when I was walking along the beautifully designed hallways along the marble tiles, anticipating the excitement of seeing the room I’d be staying in. The hallways design were undeniably beautiful, but I was greatly disappointed when I opened the door to my hotel room and felt as though I’d stepped into a different hotel entirely!
The bedrooms were sort-of authentic to the hotels style, I’ll give them that- but the pros definitely out-weighed the cons. Firstly, we were lucky enough to receive a free upgrade on our room because the first room we were supposed to stay in was not at all what we expected. The room was extremely cramped, so much so that you couldn’t move around without the main door being completely closed. It was without doubt the smallest two-bedroom suite I’ve ever stayed in. Considering the fact that I’m five foot nine, the single bed I was supposed to sleep in looked embarrassingly tiny and uncomfortable.
On top of all this, our room had the worst view as every window in our suite faced some sort of ventilation machine and/or disposal unit (not quite sure, just a lot of ugly metal). But wait, I left the best until last- we were only ten minutes into our stay, when we came to the realisation that there wasn’t a toilet flush in the bathroom. After alerting a nearby maid for help, she gestured to the toilet flush that sat on the wall inside the shower in the most casual fashion; it was then that we realised we had to get out.
Our second two-bedroom suite was much nicer in comparison, however it still had it’s faults. There weren’t enough electrical socket points in the room, by this I mean just enough for the lights and TV’s to be plugged in. When we queried this, we were told to use the USB socket connected to the T.V’s- however, the TV wouldn’t work whilst it’s in use. Essentially, if you’re looking to charge any phones/cameras/tablets, it’ll be extremely difficult.
There are also no bedside table drawers and the wardrobe space is limited- if you’re a light traveller this won’t be too detrimental to you (although the dust might be). You may or may not know that I’m quite a heavy holiday packer, but thankfully I’d only taken four nights and five days worth of clothes- if my stay was any longer, I would’ve been out of storage space. Additionally, there’s virtually no natural light coming into the rooms, the mattresses were quite hard, and if your belongings were to fall under the bed, you’d get dusty hands upon retrieving them.
The bathroom in our new suite was pretty average and much more spacious than the first (with a toilet flush outside of the shower). However I’ve stayed in lesser known hotels which have two bathrooms in their two bedroom suites.
When it comes to food, the hotel features a gourmet restaurant ‘Gaetano Costa Le Roof‘ on the seventh floor which is open from lunch until dinner. Our original plan was to spend one evening dining there, however after seeing the menu and the extensive prices, we decided to eat lunch and dinner in town every night instead. The main room allocated for breakfast service is a rather small, but grandly decorated room situated on the ground floor of the hotel. The room features a centre table displaying cakes, pastries and fruit whist several round dining tables encircle it. There wasn’t very much food out in the room (besides a selection of cheese and meat), nevertheless each time we requested omelettes or other foods, the chef always made what we desired.
Breakfast at the Ritz was certainly one of the highs of staying at The Grand Ritz Hotel, particularly the champagne that they willingly serve you upon request every morning. The half buffet style-half waiting style service was quite unique considering there was no dining menu, which was a new experience to me.
Other hotel features in the Ritz are present on the lower-ground floor of the hotel, where there’s a rather small gym and spa. Whilst I went down to have a look, it looked rather quiet and not very enticing (which says a lot considering I usually cant resist a massage or two). All in all, The Grand Ritz, Roma was a rather quiet hotel- if you’re staying there, you’re only likely to bump into the same ten or so people during your stay, giving the illusion that you have a hotel all to yourself. The general crowd seemed to be young-adult travellers or much older men and women, with not much else in between. Seeing young children around was quite rare; but bare in mind my stay was during December, so very much out of the peak travelling seasons.
The hotel is a great choice for those who don’t care too much about the place they stay in, but rather the destination and what they can explore in the country. The Grand Ritz is located just outside of the city centre; the hotel provides a free minibus service (a service that we utilised everyday) which takes guests to and from the city, stopping right by the Spanish Steps. The journey is only a short fifteen minutes, however it’d be much harder to get to by foot. Besides, the minibus driver is dressed in traditional bellboy dress, so it’s quite fun to get picked up and driven back to the hotel at the end of an evening. There’s also a train station located right on the doorstep of the hotel which also stops off right by the Spanish Steps, which is great if you’re looking to travel amongst the locals.
There was an issue of ‘misunderstanding’ between the main desk and our taxi driver on our last day at the Ritz, which dampened on our experience. We’d pre-paid for a taxi to take us to the airport- however, when the diver asked for us at reception, we weren’t notified and the concierge told our driver to take another guest instead (despite the fact that we were sat in the reception area half an hour before our driver was expected to arrive). Hotel staff then told us we had to pay for their taxi service, which was almost twice as much as we had already paid, as the guest who had booked a taxi through them had taken our pre-paid one instead. Staff were not at all helpful during this situation, and rather than taking responsibility and ownership of their mistake, they passed the blame onto our driver and insisted we give them our money to get to the airport on time for our flight.
My stay wasn’t great, but it definitely could’ve been worse considering the amount of hotel-from-hell stories out there. If you’re drawn to the hotel for its high status- just know you wont feel very high status whilst staying there. The pice doesn’t at all match the service, nor does the standards. Whilst I’ve stayed in my fair share of luxurious and five-star hotels, I was greatly disappointed with my experience at the Grand Hotel Ritz, Roma. Whilst I initially wanted to refrain from sharing my disappointing experience, I realised it was essential that I did considering the high praise that this hotel chain receives in comparison to many four-star hotels that I’ve stayed in which, without doubt, have performed much better than this one. However, it’s also important to bare in mind that there’s no guarantee The Hotel Ritz in Rome is the exact same as the other Hotel Ritz’s across the world.
I’m not at all telling you to refrain from booking a room at the Grand Hotel Ritz, Roma, just simply weigh up your hotel needs and decide for yourself whether this pricey hotel will perform to your needs and expectations.