You live like a princess in the home of Principessa Letizia Ruspoli, who has created two spectacular suites in her family’s historic townhouse. The main suite, where Emperor Napoleon III once stayed, is all opulent chandeliers, oil paintings, and museum-quality antiques. Acute rooftop family apartment ices the cake. Palazzo Ruspoli occupies a whole city block on central Via del Corso, in the heart of the fashion shopping district, just a short stroll from the Spanish Steps.
But once you’re inside, you’re a world away from the street-level hustle and bustle below. Some hotels model themselves on stately homes or aristocratic townhouses; Residenza Napoleone III is the real thing. The painter paintings you see on the walls, the busts of Roman emperors that line the grand entrance staircase, the heirloom antiques that decorate the place – all these things are within the Ruspoli family for generations.
But this is no draughty castle – it feels warm despite the grand setting. Noblesse certainly obliges in this case. Though you’re left to enjoy your suite of rooms without maids meddling and butlers bustling, a charming fixer is there to help out, with a mobile phone number for questions and emergencies. Hi-tech features abound, like a Bose iPod dock and a video projector (with a library of DVDs to play on it).
The main Napoleone III suite consists of three large, lavishly opulent rooms – so effectively you get two sitting rooms and a huge bedroom (complete with James-Bond-ish touches, like the oil-painting opposite the master bed that swings back to reveal a huge television).
To make a three- or four-berth apartment, families can choose to add the cozy Blue Room to the package, accessed via a wooden staircase. Separate from the main suite, the Roof Garden Suite is an intimate, cultured refuge surrounded by greenery with 360-degree views over the domes and rooftops of central Rome, which can sleep two or three in its basic version and up to five if you opt to add an adjoining bedroom accessed via a steep yacht-cabin ladder. A fresh, organic breakfast is served on Bulgari tableware by the maid, at the associate hour of your selecting.
There’s also a kitchenette, should you need to prise open the oysters or dose out the caviar. All guests receive a welcome pack with fresh fruit and a bottle of Chianti produced on the Ruspoli’s Tuscan estate. The Roof Garden Suite goes for €900 (£790) a night for two adults; add the adjoining bedroom and the price becomes €1,400 (£1,230).
The Napoleone III Suite costs €1,600 (£1,405) a night, or €2,130 (£1,870) with the addition of the Blue Room. Breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi. Children of all ages are welcome, with cribs (including an antique, lace-edged version) and rollaway beds provided on request. The Roof Garden Suite is the best option for larger families – it can accommodate up to two adults and three children.