Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel & Spa is one of the most well known hotels in Rome and its elegant restaurant, Pauline Borghese, is the perfect spot for a luxurious lunch. The privileged location in the upmarket Parioli district, next to the Villa Borghese park has made it popular with celebrity guests – the Beatles, Woody Allen, and many more…
Crossing the threshold, you really feel like you are in an oasis of calm. The hotel was designed by the famous architect Giò Ponti in 1964 and recently had a facelift inspired by the villas of Rome’s 17th-century nobility. It’s the perfect base from which to explore the Colosseum, the Vatican and Rome’s hidden gems. One of the main attractions is the impressive spa, of which more later. We had been invited to sample the delights of the renowned “Pauline Borghese” restaurant with its delightful terrace overlooking the Italian style garden.
Due to the heat, we opted for the air-conditioned seating inside the restaurant, with its pretty stucco plasterwork and comfortable chairs. The menu here is based on traditional Italian cuisine with a modern twist, and a particularly fine selection of wines. There’s even a choice of regional Italian oils to accompany your meal. You may be wondering who Pauline Borghese was? Her full name was Pauline Borghese Bonaparte – Napoleon’s sister was beautiful and flirtatious, breaking hearts all over Europe. Her second husband was Prince Camillo Borghese who owned the largest collection of diamonds in the world. Their relationship was quite discordant – he even placed her under house arrest at one point.
Great attention has been paid to detail, from the elegant crockery to the silver plate covers that the friendly waiters remove with a flourish.
This starter of parmesan cheese tempura with bacon panzanella salad was the perfect choice on a hot Summer’s day and the savoury flavour of the Parmesan matched the bacon perfectly.
Continuing my health kick, I chose red Mediterranean Grouper in Acqua pazza style with agretti for my main course. Eating out in Italy is great for learning new cooking techniques and vocabulary! Acqua pazza literally means crazy water, as fishermen from Naples used to sautée the catch of the day in seawater with tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil. These days it’s a recipe for white fish poached in a lightly herbed broth. Agretti looks like a cross between rosemary and grass. It’s a water-retaining plant that has a season of only a few weeks, so it’s the first time I’d tried it, and I really enjoyed its delicate flavour.
The double chocolate mousse with crispy meringue and Haitian vanilla sauce was a delight and the raspberries brought just the right note of acidity to the dish. Mr Luxe’s wild strawberry tartlet with lemon and champagne cream was equally flavourful.
One of the hotel’s star attractions is the Prince Spa, opened in 2010, on three levels with a 450 square metre fitness area and 12 treatement rooms plus 2 multisensory couple spa suites.
The highlight has to be the Swarovski crystal ceiling of the 25 metre ozone spa pool. You can just see it on this photo, I didn’t want to disturb the swimmers.
There are 24 recently renovated suites have been recently renovated and we visited the 350 square metre Royal Suite with its panoramic terrace. Woody Allen had the treadmill installed here when he last stayed and it has been here ever since.
All in all, it’s a fantastic haven in the heart of Rome, and I’m looking forward to staying here on a future visit. Pauline Borghese at Parco dei Principi Grand Hotel & Spa, Via G. Frescobaldi, 5 – 00198 Rome, Italy