A lux weekend in Rome

I was excited to go back to Rome, very excited. Why? Because my readers decided that it was where I should go and spend the 100,000 Starpoints that American Express and Starwood really wanted me to use over a weekend.

During this weekend in Rome, I was hosted by Starwood, who gave me 100,000 Starpoints to spend in the best way I saw fit. I took advantage of the ability to book any flights (with no blackout dates) and used 60,000 Starpoints for my sister’s flight from Lisbon and mine from London. With the remaining 40,000 Starpoints, I booked 2 nights at the St. Regis Rome.

We will sleep like princesses at the St. Regis Rome...

We slept were looking forward to being treated like princesses at the St. Regis Rome…

 

Thursday (or a normal person’s Friday)

When I arrived at Fiumicino airport, things were looking good – I left a very wet London earlier that morning – there was actually some sun. I also had butterflies in my stomach as I was to have a very special person with me over these 3 days: my lovely sister Renata, who as she lives in Lisbon, I don’t get to see every day like I used to. Some magic happened and both our flights landed on time and we actually met on the terminal without even calling each other. That was certainly a sign of that was to come.

We hugged and just got into our ‘official taxi’ – it usually is not so difficult to get an official taxi in other European cities, so please beware (and don’t believe a word other people say. €48 flat fee including luggage is the deal). We just said, ‘andiamo a St. Regis Hotel, per favore’. (my Italian is stellar as you will find out).

Half an hour later, we entered this Rome grand dame hotel. We were a bit too early to check in, but our room was ready (we had an email from the St. Regis concierge the day before double checking if we needed anything or help with any bookings). We took the opportunity to unpack and check it out, and I must say, we were not disappointed! Thanks to my Starwood Platinum status, we were upgraded to the best available room at the hotel, which happened to be a lovely suite, as in the one that appears on hotel photographs. It was lovely.

We had a stunning suite at the St. Regis Rome

We had a stunning suite at the St. Regis Rome

No rest for the wicked, and it was time for some lunch with my friend Diana, aka Browsing Rome. She wanted to take us to a real restaurant, something simple, yet delicious – and we loved Colline Emiliane which was located at moments from Piazza Barberini, not far from the hotel. We loved how Italian this place was – and how local everyone else was too. Luckily Diana is fluent and we were able to order – and having all these Emilia Romagna specialties really made me want to explore this region further… perhaps next year!

After lunch, we walked around Piazza Barberini where we saw the Triton Fountain which had just been unveiled after a good clean up. Diana wanted to take me shopping, and she suggested the Prati district, not far from the Vatican – I thought it was a great idea as we would get to have a little walk around and yes, I would not mind looking for some new shoes. Or a coat. Or a handbag.

Yours truly and the lovely Diana at St. Peter's Square in Rome. Always very special to go back to the Vatican every time I visit Rome.

Yours truly and the lovely Diana at St. Peter’s Square in Rome. Always very special to go back to the Vatican every time I visit Rome.

We walked and walked and sadly, we did not buy anything. Can you believe it? Whenever we liked something, there was nothing our size… We decided this would not stop us – and we should persevere. So we actually walked from Prati to Via del Corso and explored this lovely part of town. Via Condotti never disappoints and it was fun having a look at some of my favourite Italian brands – such as Max Mara (I wanted a new grey coat and didn’t find any), Tod’s or Gucci.

At this stage, we got to the Spanish steps and it started to rain. And it never stopped again during our time in Rome.

How can one go to Rome and *not* take this photo?

How can one go to Rome and *not* take this photo?

We decided to go back to the hotel and change for dinner. Obviously, this is code for ‘we wanted to be back at 7pm as the hotel sabers a bottle of champagne and gives a glass to everyone sitting at the lobby’. When we got to our suite, we were surprised by our own bottle of prosecco (how did they know I was so thirsty?), and actually never made it downstairs in time… oh well!

That prosecco just arrived at the right moment… thank you, St. Regis

That prosecco just arrived at the right moment… thank you, St. Regis

After changing to a more fitting dining attire, we headed towards Trastevere, a neighbourhood I had heard of, but never been. We were there to meet my friend Maria, aka Heart Rome, who had planned a whole night out for us.

I instantly fell in love with the area – it felt so untouristy (it is quite touristy during the day, apparently, but less so at night), so real. Loved it. We headed to a little bar for a pre-dinner drink, and I know I picked the wrong drink as I was in Lazio, not Veneto, but I had to have an Aperol Spritz. I love this drink (my favourite one was at the Aperol Terrace in Milan earlier this year) and I really try not to have it outside Italy (it is everywhere now, but in my opinion, just not the same!).

Piazza di Santa Maria a Trastevere. Loved it.

Piazza di Santa Maria a Trastevere. Loved it.

To say dinner was amazing, it would be an understatement. We had possibly one of the nicest meals I ever had in Italy (and this should tell you something) at Glass Hostaria, which not only looked stunning… the modern twist on Italian classics was incredible. I loved the foie-gras ravioli and my half chocolate-half Guinness button pasta. The champagne, the lovely Chianti and the moscato at the end certainly made it even more special. It was just the perfect evening.

I adored our dinner at Glass Hostaria with my sister Renata and my friend Maria.

I adored our dinner at Glass Hostaria with my sister Renata and my friend Maria.

And as good girls we were, we went to bed early. It had been a long day (up at 5am for a 7am flight) and by midnight, it was time to say Buona Notte.

 

Friday (or a normal person’s Saturday)

After breakfast, which was complimentary as usual for all SPG Platinum members, we got a cab to the Villa Borghese, one of Rome’s many landmarks and home to an impressive art collection. A visit to Rome cannot be all about shopping – and while I had no plans to do the reverse, i.e. only sightsee, I thought a bit of culture was due.

Villa Borghese (photo by Browsing Rome)

Villa Borghese (photo by Browsing Rome)

Just before 11am, we met Jeanette, our private Walks of Italy guide, who for two hours, was going to guide us through this amazing place. When we got into the entrance, I was a little bit scared when I saw the queues… but then thought, this is when a private tour really makes a difference. No queues, no time-wasting.

Sadly, no photos could be taken inside the Gallery, but I have to tell you I really enjoyed it – I was a bit worried about being forced to look at stuff for 2 hours, but found myself lost in Jeanette’s tales of Caravaggio. She was an amazing story-teller, and knew the museum really well.

By 1pm, we were starving, starving! And how can one be hungry in Rome? It is just wrong!

Starving in Rome. Yes, it did happen.

Starving in Rome. Yes, it did happen.

As we had a date with our Flytographer photographer for a little photoshoot in Rome, we decided to have lunch nearby. Trastevere was really in my cards for this trip and this is where we spent most of our day. Thanks to Maria, we had a lovely simple lunch at Osteria der Belli, where we enjoyed homemade Sardinian specialties – I loved my gnochetti!

We were hoping that the rain would stop, but of course it did not. Oh well. We met our Flytographer at Piazza Santa Maria and just walked around the neighbourhood, trying to capture real life moments, and boy did we get some!

Out and about in Rome. Even checking out the local talent. Photos by Flytographer.

Out and about in Rome. Even checking out the local talent. Photos by Flytographer.

From Trastevere, we walked towards the Campo di Fiori, but only after a stop for some coffee and cannoli (again, suggested by my friend Maria, who by this time, was able to join us too).

We decided the rain would not stop us (you can see how our hair gets progressively worse, but hey, you only live once). We did a bit of sightseeing and even managed to tick off the Piazza Navona, which is always a nice sight.

The girls about town. With a side of Cannoli. Photos by Flytographer.

The girls about town. With a side of Cannoli. Photos by Flytographer.

From there, we walked to the Pantheon, where we finally stopped for a drink (it was 5pm after all!).

We said goodbye to Maria, and continued our mission: to find shoes. I don’t know what it was, but the shopping Gods were not with us this time. I think it was the first time I ever went anywhere and did not buy anything. But I ate – so that has to count for something.

My sister was keen to go to the Fontana di Trevi, and how could I disappoint her? I can’t tell you how busy it was, but we managed to get our photo taken eventually.

Yes yes, I did it in the pouring rain. So I will come back to Rome for sure!

Yes yes, I did it in the pouring rain. So I will come back to Rome for sure!

We had exciting plans for dinner (more on that later), but with an hour to go, we decided it wasn’t worth going back to the hotel – so we decided to walk. More. In the rain. (it really seemed like a good idea).

To say we were soaked, would be the understatement of the year. I do not remember ever having such wet feet (and the most appalling choice of suede shoes for the day), but eventually, we made it to our destination: a private loft in the Corso Vittorio Emmanuelle II where we were able to cook our own dinner.

Walks of Italy organises some incredible activities in Italy (I loved my walk with them in Milan) and not all involve walking. Some involve making you work in other ways). I loved the idea of an evening with a private chef and actually learning how to make my own pasta.

David, our chef, made us feel at home instantly – it must have been the glass of chilled prosecco waiting for us. I loved the space – it wasn’t actually his house, it is a rooftop floor with an amazing balcony (obviously not to be enjoyed on that evening and a purposely built space for this type of activities).

Want to make your own pasta? Just follow these very simple steps!

Want to make your own pasta? Just follow these very simple steps!

My sister and I were joined by an American couple, and I have to say, we had a fantastic evening. It turned out that we were naturals (we did require a lot of direction, ha) , but at the end, we did it. We cooked some very interesting shaped pasta (pici, just so you know) amatriciana, which is one of Rome’s most famous sauces.

And with this, we went back to the St Regis, where our lovely suite awaited. We were knackered with so much walking! But so happy, I could not tell you!

 

Saturday (or a normal person’s Sunday)

We had been warned NOT to eat breakfast. But I need to eat shortly after waking up so I only had some eggs. Needless to say, half an hour later I regretted this decision.

Our morning was going to be slightly different from the previous one – we were going on a food tour. For 4 hours. And die after that, of course.

Italian street-style. A risqué photo by Flytographer.

Italian street-style. A risqué photo by Flytographer.

Spending a morning with Eating Italy was one of the nicest memories I will have from this trip. Our tour (in the rain ha ha), was run by Kate, and we were joined by 6 other very hungry visitors to the Eternal City. We were there to explore the neighbourhood of Testaccio (another place I had never been to) and basically eat our way around it.

Ooops, I did eat my way around Rome with Eating Italy. And no regrets.

Ooops, I did eat my way around Rome with Eating Italy. And no regrets.

From wonderful charcuterie and cheese, to pizza, to cannoli, to pasta and gelato – you name it, we had it all. I loved visiting the market and actually having a chance to buy something (well, I hadn’t bought any shoes, I could not turn up at house empty-handed). Chestnuts, cheese, bread and tomatoes – not an usual combination if you are inspired by the local specialties.

We really had an amazing time, and before we knew it, it was time to quickly head back to the St. Regis Hotel, pick up our luggage and head home.

Good things come to an end – and this weekend was incredible (and would be nothing short of perfect if it wasn’t for the never stopping rain).

On this trip, I spent 100,000 Starpoints which covered both our flights and our hotel stay. If you would like to know more about the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card, click here and find out how it can help you go to even more places, always in style. If you apply and are approved for the Preferred Guest Credit Card my lovely sponsors are also giving you 20,000 Starpoints when you spend £2,000 in the first three months of Cardmembership as a bonus  (UK residents only) – that is enough for one night at a St. Regis Hotel (seriously) or two nights at the Sheraton Lisbon (one of my favourites). Click here for Terms and conditions.

 

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express

Representative example: Representative 36.2% APR variable. Based on annual fee of £75 and assumed credit limit of £1200. Interest rate for purchases: 19.9% p.a. variable. Terms and conditions apply. 

 

And I am pretty sure Italy will keep calling my name. I can’t wait to go back.

Ciao!

Xo

Mrs. O

 

Disclaimer: this post was sponsored by American Express and Starwood. I was a guest of Walks of Italy, Eating Italy and Flytographer on this trip – and I loved every minute of it.

 

Applicants must be 18 years old or over. Approval is subject to status and terms and conditions apply. The information relating to the financial information of the Card is the responsibility of American Express Services Europe Limited and SPG accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc, registered in England and Wales is an introducer appointed representative for insurance mediation activities only, of American Express Insurance Services Europe Limited. The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card is offered by American Express Services Europe Limited registered office: Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom registered in England and Wales, Company Number 1833139, and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Payment Services Regulations 2009 (reference number 415532) for the provision of payment services. American Express Services Europe Limited is an appointed representative for insurance mediation activities only, of American Express Insurance Services Europe Limited (reference number 311684) who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services Register. American Express Services Europe Limited also subscribes to the Lending Code which is monitored and enforced by the Lending Standards Board and is licensed by the Office of Fair Trading for the provision of credit products and related services.

72 Comments

  1. Some of the best memories in the world I have are from Rome
    Charu recently posted..How Nkuku’s Locally-Sourced Crafts Benefit the ArtisansMy Profile

  2. Rome is one of my favourite cities and your post has inspired me to return and do it on style. I’ve been looking for a new credit card too so I’m definitely going to apply for this one. Thanks.

  3. Love your pictures Ana, especially the Eating Italy and making the pasta. You’ve given me a few ideas for my next trip to Italy.

  4. I love Rome. It would be so fun to experience that city with you. You look so beautiful in all the photos. Spending time with your sister really suits you.
    lola recently posted..New York City – One of My Favorite City BreaksMy Profile

  5. I just got back from Rome, great reminder…love this city. Great pictures, must try Flytographer once :)
    Marysia @ My Travel Affairs recently posted..Friday Lens Affair #49My Profile

  6. Wonderful weekend! It reminded me of trips to Rome past: I stayed in an apartment in the Prati once; I did a food tour of the Testaccio area too; etc. And your hotel looks phenomenal! As I wrote in a post once: Rome is eternal because I can keep going back eternally!
    Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted..2013: A Year in Food and BeveragesMy Profile

  7. LOVING this post, mrs. o. i think the lazy travelers are going to have to look into getting flytographer on every trip with us. also, THAT PROSECCO. i need. xo, the wino
    the lazy travelers recently posted..six lessons i’ve learned as an english speaking expatMy Profile

  8. What an incredible weekend! LOVE the pics of you!!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..England & Scotland With Trafalgar: Day 7 (Part 2)My Profile

  9. Kiera Reilly (@KieraReilly) /

    Oh Mrs. O, how you entice us to return to Rome! After several trips to Italy, I finally made it to Rome in May for the first time. And now I want to return to walk, shop and eat thanks to your post! Hopefully I will make a return trip soon. I have not heard of an Aperol Spritz, and clearly I need to try one – but I will have to wait until I am in Rome!

  10. even when it rains it’s still beautiful
    Hogga recently posted..Why Everyone Should Go Eat a PeckerMy Profile

  11. What a fabulous trip! Walks of Italy, Flytographer, family, and my favorite part of Rome – Trastevere. I loved following along with you on this fun trip. xx
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted..Music Monday: Dreams.My Profile

  12. There is nothing about your weekend in Rome that doesn’t sound wonderful – and how lovely you were able to share it with your sister. Amazing how points can be used to such great purpose. I see Walks of Italy on Instagram all the time with one phenomenal photo after another.
    I would love to do a photo shoot – maybe one day!!
    Leigh recently posted..My 10 Favourite Books of 2013My Profile

  13. What a bummer that it rained most of the time. Looks like you had a great time anyway. When you are with good people, you can always have a great time despite the weather.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..Khai Yai overlook with adopted family in ThailandMy Profile

  14. What a detailed report. Lots of great tours. I love the gang at Walks of Italy. It’s been years since I’ve been to Rome, and unfortunately we didn’t make it to Trastevere. Definitely need to eat there next visit.
    Lance | Trips By Lance recently posted..Christmas Travel Wish ListMy Profile

  15. PICI PASTA!!! My favorite! Can’t find it at home so I must go back to Italy to have some more! I hung on to every single word of this post as if my life depended on it. Rome is such a magical and special place to me and I loved reading about your beautiful, if rainy, weekend.
    Francesca (@WorkMomTravels) recently posted..A taste of Chicago’s Little India with Spice of Life ToursMy Profile

  16. Yeah AMEX SPG. I don’t leave home with out mine.. EVER. Great trip! you and your sister look like you had a wonderful time together. When are we going??? :-)

  17. Wow! What a wonderfully packed trip to Rome. It’s one of my favorite food cities, and it looks like you did it proud. Trastevere is my favorite part of the city for dining, so I’ll have to check out your spots the next time I’m there.
    Leah recently posted..Hawaiian Hotel Sampler: O’ahu EditionMy Profile

  18. I loved following your Rome adventures. I visited Rome as a little girl and definitely need to go back soon – especially as I do love the Roman History and well, Latin :D
    Anita recently posted..Salzburg in der VorweihnachtszeitMy Profile

  19. What a fabulous weekend – you packed so much in and I was quite worn out (in a good way!) by the time I’d finished reading. Makes me want to go back to Rome tomorrow :)
    Suzanne (Travelbunny) recently posted..Montenegro – Discovering Kotor, Njegusi and CetinjeMy Profile

  20. What a fantastic weekend. Exploring some new areas of Rome must have been great.
    The Eating Italy tour sounds amazing….and you shouldn’t feel too guilty about eating all that food – at least you had to work for it!!
    Carolyn recently posted..Satisfy your European travel desires with my holiday reading guideMy Profile

    • I walked all the way, Carolyn! The trip was fab – also loved the pasta making evening. Only thing not perfect: no shoes in my size and the rain ;)

  21. Looks like an amazing few days. And like you, (even though I am from Venice)-I love getting an Aperol Spritz anywhere that has Aperol since I have it so infrequently in the U.S.
    Elena recently posted..Back to Running with MusicMy Profile

    • Hi Elena, absolutely true, but sadly, I seem to see Aperol everywhere around Europe now, but still very hard to find someone that knows what to do with it!

  22. Oh Mrs. O, how nice to be able to meet up with family during this festive month, and in Rome no less!

    I see you don’t travel much to Asia :( I know it’s far away and no-one enjoys a 12 hour flight (well, maybe some people do!) but if you’re ever in the mood for something a bit different, allow me to entice you with my current city of residence: Tokyo :D The food & service doesn’t disappoint, neither do the sights, the people… And with the current exchange rate, it’s the best time in the last 5 years for a visit!

  23. I love, love, love Rome and I’m glad you got to join the Eating Italy food tour! It’s one of my best memories from my first time to Roma <3

    And that canopy bed at the St Regis looks lovely!
    Adam recently posted..Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide for Photo LoversMy Profile

  24. You did well. I could not think of a better way to spend those points than in Rome. You really didn’t buy one thing?? Everything you are sounds amazing!
    Lieu recently posted..Hue Eats – Our Favorite Regional Food in VietnamMy Profile

    • I think it was the first time it ever happened. And the worse bit is that we really tried – most of the time was spent walking around town shopping. I saw these boots, they were wonderful. And I did try a size bigger – just wasn’t mean to be!

  25. Looks like you and your sister had an amazing time! :) I love travelling with my other half but it’s also an entirely different kind of happiness and fun travelling with my sister. I’m thinking about Italy towards end of the year and this post is very convincing :)
    Jean| Holy Smithereens recently posted..Park Hyatt Paris Vendome: A Five-Star Hotel in Paris that Knows True LuxuryMy Profile

    • I know exactly what you mean. My sister and I have travelled a lot together and we just get on so well. It doesn’t happen so often nowadays so it was a really nice treat!

  26. What fun you had! With some of my favorite people here in Rome.

  27. Oh Rome, I have not been for years and you just opened my appetite. One thing about the Amex, can we apply for this promotion? I am US based.

  28. Great weekend, Mrs. O! And I have to check the Amex card. I have the Amex BA one and love it – but this could be interesting for when one gets the free companion voucher. Afterwards if you see what I mean.

  29. Therese /

    What an amazing weekend in Rome. You make me want to go there – which is a good idea for next year. And I love your coat too!! Your sister is very pretty.

  30. Oh my! It has been so long since my last visit to Rome. Mrs. O, I love your coat – is it reversible? I am asking as the photos were taken on the same day some of them and you keep changing them. I wished we could have the Amex SPG card here in Spain. I love SPG!

    • Hi Maria, it is reversible indeed. From Massimo Dutti (last season, though). Grey and Navy, perfect for travelling! Hope they launch Amex SPG in Spain one day!

  31. You look so happy in all the photos, I think Rome tends to have that effect. Pleased you had such a great time :-)
    Becky Padmore recently posted..Enjoying the seasonal craic: Christmas in DublinMy Profile

  32. Jean Yves /

    Ahhhh Rome! It has been a while since I visited. I like this very much, Mrs. O

  33. TomOfCT /

    I’m curious why you elect to take these sponsored trips. It would seem you have enough coming in from the blog to allow you to travel on your own account. The experiences you had at the hotel are less likely to be replicated for a non-sponsored guest.

    • Tom hi! Thanks for your comment. I did and will continue to do any trips that are relevant for me and my readers. I have been a platinum SPG member for over 10 years and every time we go to a Starwood hotel, we get upgraded to the best available room (and 99% of time, fabulous suites). If you read the pre-trip post (http://mrsoaroundtheworld.com/2013/11/20/returning-rome-american-express-starwood-preferred-guest-chose) you will see why I chose to take on Amex and SPG as my sponsors – because I have been using their services as a normal guest for many many years. And I booked my whole trip from my personal profile.

      • TomOFCT /

        I too am an Amex fan, and use many of their products regularly. My point, however, is that you’ll invariably get even better treatment than a SPG plat, due to the power of the pen (or keyboard, in this case!). Compare this to CN, at least, where the staff travel incognito whenever possible.

        I do enjoy your posts and appreciate your reply to my comment! Cheers.

  34. What an amazing weekend in Roma! Thanks for all the info. I will be back there in early April :)

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