Chapter Roma Redefines Italian Hospitality
Rome is unquestionably one of the world’s great tourism cities, with thousands of years of history, unmatched cuisine, and vibrant contemporary culture, which makes it all the more surprising that its hotel scene has grown in recent years somewhat stale. That changed earlier this summer with the opening of Chapter Roma, the first in a new line of boutique hotels from Marco Cilia, formerly of celebrated properties Blakes in London and the Hotel Americano in New York. “I think Rome (and Italy) has some beautiful hotels, but all very boring,” he elaborates. “If I was to make a comparison between hotels and computers, I would say that Italian hotels have great hardware but no software. The bones are strong, but the experience is completely lacking. This is what I always want to deliver, an experience.”
What becomes immediately clear upon stepping through the doors of Chapter Roma, tucked on a quiet street in the artsy Regola neighborhood of the Italian capital, is that Cilia understands how to craft that “experience,” exactly what today’s travelers are seeking out. Working with the designer Tristan Du Plessis, the Chapter team has given a vibrantly contemporary and urban update to a building that dates to the late 1800s, with design touches in burnished metals and vibrant velvets playing off an oversized custom work by local street artist Alice Pasquini that looms over the lobby. Graphic calligraphy by Warios lines the spiral staircase leading up to the rooms, each of which has a unique layout thanks to the eclectic nature of the original building. “I was looking for an up-and-coming designer, someone who had an international outlook on interiors and most importantly someone who could put together different layers of design into the product,” Cilia says about the interplay of old and new that defines that hotel and indeed much of the city itself. “When I met Tristan Du Plessis, not only did I think he could deliver what I wanted, but I also thought he was the type of customer I was trying to attract so he could truly understand what I was looking for.”
Rome is certainly not lacking in grand old hotels, overflowing with marble and gilt, which is part of the reason Cilia consciously pushed in a different direction. His core demographic is not, however, defined by age but by “attitude and interests,” he says, specifically art, design, fashion, and music. “I see Chapter Roma’s customer as fun, international, creative,” he adds. The soaring lobby bar has quickly become a favorite for locals, as has Market, a health food cafe that serves mostly salads, smoothies, and juices as well as selling fresh produce, a welcome respite from the endless rounds of pasta the city is better known for. A full-service restaurant opening early next year is still in the works but it should come as no surprise when Cilia promises that it “will not be Italian.”
Cilia, who grew up in Rome before moving abroad to England and the United States for work, is still a native son of the city that made him, which perhaps puts him in the ideal position to rewrite the rules of Roman hospitality. With so many hotels jostling for attention, Chapter stands out by rejecting expectations. Cilia’s ambition is to open Chapters in all of Italy’s major cities over the coming years, turning his brainchild into “the leading lifestyle/design hotel brand” in his homeland. Chapter Roma is certainly a good start.
For more information, please visit Chapter-Roma.com.