Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Romeo hotel

6 Dec 2011 by Jenny Southan

WHAT’S IT LIKE? A member of the Design Hotels collection, this ten-floor five-star property opened in autumn 2008, and occupies a building that was previously a publishing house.

Designed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange and his son Paul, the property fuses contemporary Western styles with influences from the East – the sleek glass exterior and minimalist interiors are offset by Italian-made artworks and furniture (look out for the €45,000 ebony pool table by Cavicchi in the lobby), while the ground floor features a sushi bar and the top floor has a gourmet Italian restaurant.

The Beluga Skybar, which can be hired for events, and the subterranean spa were unveiled in June 2011. Expect plenty of black and white, shiny marble and dimly lit corridors.

WHERE IS IT? On the waterfront Via Cristoforo Colombo – it’s a scruffy strip, but Naples isn’t the cleanest of cities at the best of times. However, the Romeo is conveniently located close to the port, where you can catch boats to points along the Amalfi Coast (the island of Capri is 40 minutes away). It is ten minutes by car to the station and 20 minutes to the airport. 

ROOM FACILTIES Standard category Deluxe rooms are 30 sqm, and come with king-size beds, air conditioning, free wifi access, De Longhi espresso coffee machines, complimentary mineral water, minibars, Caprai sheets and dozens of squishy pillows, 24-hour in-room dining, turn-down service, and Romeo custom-designed toiletries that included sets of day and night creams. 

Irons are not provided – even on request – as this is against Italian health and safety regulations. Higher category Deluxe rooms have better views, while Studio Corner rooms are larger (45 sqm), and the suites measure from 60 sqm to 132 sqm.

My Studio Corner room had lots of light, although the views of the industrial port area were not particularly attractive. The curtains could be automatically drawn and there was a large flatscreen TV, a small work area, two armchairs and some funky rectangular black cotton slippers with white dots that made them look like dominos. 

The lighting was a little confusing and there was a motion sensor in the bathroom that kept turning off when I was in there. Having said that, the interior was very stylish, with a wet room fitted with a Philippe Starck deep soaking tub, rainshower (flip the head over to use), bidet and sliding mirrored door. The décor combined dark wood and glass with muted sea greens, greys and creams.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS The ground-floor sushi bar, Zero, is guarded by a 300-year-old suit of samurai armour and is open for dinner only, Wednesday to Sunday. It has a high marble-topped bar and seats 65 people. The cigar room, which is also on the lobby level, offers 45 different types of smokes and three comfy chairs. The hotel can also arrange chocolate and spirit tastings here.

Il Comandante restaurant has sweeping views of the Bay of Naples and opens out on to a roof terrace for al fresco dining. I enjoyed a couple of very nice breakfasts here in the morning sunshine – a continental buffet of croissants, yoghurt, cheese, fruit, cold meat, bread and juice was laid out inside. I returned one evening to sample the à la carte offering and was also impressed – the traditional eggplant Parmesan (€14) with rich tomato sauce was exceptional. The best I have ever had, in fact.

My main of ravioli stuffed with mozzarella and Mediterranean cream sauce (€16) was delicious and filling. Other options included steak with brown sauce for €28 and desserts such as sour cherry cheesecake for €10, although I couldn’t manage one of these. Instead, I finished with a syrupy cup of espresso and an ice-cold glass of zesty limoncello liqueur, a local favourite. The waiting staff were charming and attentive. A four-course set menu was available for €90. 

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Beluga, on the ninth floor, can be hired for events of up to 200 delegates. It has great views of the city from both sides, a red grand piano and a glass-walled wine room with more than 700 labels. The other four function spaces are on level one, where there is also a photography gallery of black and white prints.

When combined, Lauro and Vespucci can host up to 190 people standing, while Colombo can seat 12 boardroom-style and the 19 sqm Relax can be used for small break-outs. There is a business centre on the second floor that is open 24 hours and offers free wifi and printing, and four Sony Vaio computers. 

LEISURE FACILTIES The 1,000 sqm space-age spa is one of the hotel’s highlights, with its iridescent gold mosaic tiling, coloured mood lighting, sliding doors and rippled walls. The effect is psychedelic yet restful, and when I visited at 6pm one evening no one else was there, which was a bonus.

Open 10am-10pm, it has five treatment rooms, an infrared sauna with glowing rock salt walls, three plunge pools, waterfalls, a Finnish sauna, three spa baths and plenty of loungers to relax on. There is also virtual golf, a kids’ club and a fitness area (open 8am-10pm or on request) with Technogym equipment, free weights, a Power Plate machine and natural daylight. A small outdoor lap pool is on level nine.

VERDICT An urbane addition to the Neapolitan hotel scene, with an excellent dining and spa offering. The Romeo is a good option for the business traveller looking for an alternative to the more traditional properties found in the city and although the location is not pleasing to the eye, it is convenient.

FACT FILE:

HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 59 rooms and 24 suites, across seven categories – Deluxe King, Deluxe City View King, Deluxe Bay View King, Studio Corner, Wellness suite, Romeo Bay View suite and Japanese Garden suite. 

ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The De Longhi espresso machine, free wifi, custom bathroom amenities and comfy bed with Caprai linen sheets.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in February started from €175 in a Deluxe King room.

CONTACT Romeo, 45 Via Cristoforo Colombo, Naples; tel +39 081 0175 001; designhotels.com/romeo

Jenny Southan

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