Smack in Rome’s Historic Center, This New Hotel Is a True Sanctuary

Written by: Aura Davies


Published on: February 15, 2024

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Photos courtesy of Six Senses Rome, except where noted

Step through the doors of the newly renovated Palazzo Salviati Cesi Mellini and you can almost feel your shoulders drop, your jaw unclench, your psyche relax. The light-filled space before you is all warm neutral tones, clean lines, and lush greenery. The word that springs to mind, clichéd though it might be: oasis. On the one hand, this is surprising, given that you are just steps from the swarm of cars and people crowding down the Via del Corso, one of the busiest streets in an exceptionally busy city. On the other hand, it’s exactly what you’d expect given that the palazzo is home to Six Senses Rome, the newest hotel—and first urban hotel—from a brand that’s made luxurious serenity its hallmark.

The location is an undeniable draw: You are a few minutes’ walk from the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the many shops, churches, and restaurants of the Trevi neighborhood—it’s a lovely if crowded corner of the city to wander around. A slightly longer walk gets you to the Forum, the Spanish Steps, and dozens more churches, restaurants, galleries, museums, and shops.

The hotel shares a piazza with the church of San Marcello al Corso—though “shares” might be overstating it; it’s more like the quietly elegant building is tucked in comfortably next to its more flamboyant neighbor, the understated plus-one to the church’s main act. And they are closely linked: Six Senses undertook a restoration of the church’s facade along with its work on the palazzo, and a massive fourth-century baptismal font in the basement of the church is visible through glass tiles in the floor of the hotel’s lobby (you can also book a private tour of the church and the font with an archaeologist through the hotel—a very, very cool experience).

Like most buildings in Rome, the palazzo has lived several different lives down the centuries. Originally built in the 15th century, it was reimagined in the 18th by architect Antonio Tommaso de Marchis, who was commissioned by Mario Mellini to turn it into a palace worthy of Mellini’s new cardinalship. Its tenure as an ecclesiastical residence was followed by stints as a family home, a bank, and a movie theater. One of the most impressive things about designer Patricia Urquiola’s reimagining of the space for Six Senses is the way it seamlessly blends old and new. Original elements—like the grand marble staircase (which unfolds beneath a skylight)—have been preserved and meticulously restored. And many of the modern additions (like the traditional cocciopesto plasterwork and the travertine stone that’s ridged to echo the silhouette of ancient columns) nod to the city’s history and monuments. The art throughout the space, curated by Federica Sala, follows a similar theme. One of my favorites was a carved angel wing encased in wood scaffolding, a striking accent at the base of the staircase.


The rooms—there are 96 of them—are plush, comfortable, and serene, done in a neutral palette with natural textiles, warm woods, local travertine stone, and marble. Two particularly lovely touches in each room: a bedside pendant-lamp-meets-pothos-planter, and a copy of Stanley Tucci’s Taste placed on a nightstand. The beds are deeply comfortable, with organic mattresses and a pillow menu from which you can choose the best option for your sleeping style. You can also opt in to the Sleep with Six Senses program for three, five, or seven days through the spa—they’ll give you a sleep-tracking ring to wear, help analyze your sleep patterns, and create a custom program to help you optimize the time you spend in bed.

All the rooms are charming and luxurious, but probably my favorite corner of the hotel was the terrace of the Mellini suite: It sits above the hotel’s main entrance, and the facade of San Marcello towers up above it to the side. I can’t think of anyplace I’d rather sip my morning macchiato before a day exploring Rome.


Bivium, the on-site restaurant, is a large open dining area adjacent to the lobby and bar. It has a central glass-walled kitchen with a wood-fired oven, and then different stations (like “aroma” and “sapore”) arranged throughout. Breakfast is its own affair, with an appealing (and generous) buffet of fruits, cheeses, meats, breads, local honey, nut butters, jams, and pastries, along with à la carte options (I’m still thinking about the poached egg over roasted carrots topped with smoked hollandaise).

After breakfast, there’s an all-day dining menu available for lunch, dinner, or any hour in between when you’re feeling peckish. This is one of the things that Six Senses does so well—each location feels, genuinely, true to its home. There’s no sense here that you’re sitting down to a meal you might have anywhere but Rome. The food is authentic—and excellent. There was a cacio e pepe (of course), but it was made with Castelmagno, an ancient Pecorino local to the region that dates to at least 1277, perhaps earlier, and was named, legend has it, for the emperor Charlemagne. There was a single-grain fusilli with pistachios and red prawns (so good). There were wood-fired pizzas made with an ancient-grain dough. Crudo, oysters, cured meats, and cheeses. And charcoal-grilled steaks, fish, and chicken.

If you’re just looking to relax over a cocktail (or two), the crescent-shaped lobby bar is open year-round. On some weekend evenings, there is a DJ; it’s buzzy and draws a crowd of locals as well as visitors. The other option, seasonally, is the rooftop bar, Notos: It feels a bit like a sprawling urban garden, with olive trees, grapevines, herbs, and other botanicals in large planters throughout and comfortable groupings of couches and armchairs clustered around low coffee tables. The menu has a nice selection of wines and beers, along with light bites and signature cocktails that lean heavily (and delightfully) on fresh, herbal flavors—think gin and soda with lavender, lemon, and rosemary, or bourbon with vermouth, sage, and strawberry kombucha. Whether you’re there in the day, at dusk, or in the evening, the views over the surrounding rooftops and of the monuments in the distance are wonderful.

Photos courtesy of: 1) Six Senses Rome 2) Kelly Wells 3) the author


You can’t go to a Six Senses and skip the spa. And the spa in Rome does not disappoint. There’s an extensive menu of facials, massages, manicures, pedicures, and body treatments (many with Seed to Skin products). There are also biohacking sessions, which allow you to road test various kinds of wellness technology, like compression boots, red-light therapy, localized heat and cryotherapy, PEMF, vibrational therapy, and more. There are a couple of different types of biohacking sessions that bundle together multiple therapies; the Traveler’s Hack, which pairs compression boots and vibrational therapy, is ideal after a red-eye or a long day of sightseeing. And there’s an alchemy bar, where you can make your own balms, scrubs, salves, and more from scratch using an array of oils, essences, and botanicals. But the real star of the show here: the Roman baths. Two floors down a wide circular stairway is a low-lit, almost cavernous-feeling chamber with saunas, steam rooms, and a series of pools ranging from frigid to hot, meant to be enjoyed in a circuit, as the ancients would have done. Give yourself at least an hour or two to enjoy them.

Photos courtesy of the author


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