Rome: A blowout fantasy day in the Eternal City (with cheapo alternatives)

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Bulgari in Rome
Bring tons of cash (or your rich uncle) for this fancy tour of Rome that includes the posh Via dei Condotti. Photo: wYnand!

Usually I’m trying to find the very best bargains here at EuroCheapo. But occasionally, I try and imagine what it would be like to be flush with cash in the beautiful city of Rome. While I’m a bargain hunter at heart, the idea of exploring the luxury side of Rome gets me a teeny-tiny bit excited. Recently, I took this fantasy one step further and planned the perfect day for the ridiculously rich (and frivolous) in the Italian Capital. These are not the spots you’ll usually find Cheapos hanging out at, so we did add some affordable alternatives to counterbalance the ultra swank. But it is fun to explore a different (and way more expensive) side of the city. It’s kind of my to-do list—if I ever meet a local millionaire. A girl can dream, right?

Excelsior Rome

The ultra-fancy Excelsior in Rome. Photo: Dave King

Accommodations

Westin Excelsior, Via Vittorio Veneto, 125

Fancy waking up to hand painted frescos, a Pompeii-style Jacuzzi pool and a private wine cabinet? Can you afford around $30,000 a night for a two bedroom suite? Then the Villa La Cupola suite in Rome’s Westin Excelsior might be your cup of tea. Located in the heart of the city, this suite is the epitome of opulent. From the stained glass windows to the antique chandeliers and private solarium, it’s everything Jennifer Lopez might need to get a good night’s sleep. Did I mention it also has a private cinema?

Cheapo alternative: Daphne Inn Veneto is located about a 10-minute walk away. It might not have all of the luxurious perks of the Excelsior, but the rooms are still rather sleek and stylish.

Sistine Chapel

See the breathtaking Sistine Chapel in a private tour. Photo: Philip Milne

Sightseeing

Private Vatican Tour

Hate queues? Rolling in dough? Then take a private tour of the Vatican Museums. For around €500 a head, The Delux In-Depth Vatican City Tour includes privileged entrance to Museums, the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica and lunch. But if that seems a bit too cheap, Italy’s Best Rome offers a private ‘after hours’ tour of the highlights of the Vatican. Not only are there no lines, you’ll have the place completely to yourself. An art historian guide will explain the history and features of the museums in an environment fit for a Pope. The price is on request. I wasn’t brave enough to ask.

Cheapo alternative: You will have to deal with big crowds, but visiting St. Peter’s Basilica is totally free if you don’t want a guided tour. And if you have a few extra bucks in your pocket, here are 10 things to do in Rome for less than €10.

Shopping

Via dei Condotti, Metro Stop – Spagna (Line A)

There seems to be a law that only big names can set up shop on Rome’s Via dei Condotti. A couple of minutes from the Spanish Steps, it boasts Cartier, Prada, Gucci and a stack of other places to pick up high priced threads. This is the kind of street you need to dress up just to window shop.

Cheapo alternative: Via dei Condotti is slap-bang in the heart of Rome’s shopping district, so you’ll find plenty of affordable options nearby including Via Del Corso. Think H&M and Zara instead of Bulgari and Louis Vuitton.

La Pergola

A delicious (and very expensive) dish at La Pergola. Photo: Navin R

Dinner

La Pergola, Via Angelo Fava, 27

Hungry? Pop in to La pergola for a quick bite. The 3-Michelin Star restaurant is the most well-known restaurant in Rome and probably the finest in all of Italy. A dress code applies and bookings must be made well in advance. Most dishes cost between €50 -€100, and the menu lists 29 different choices of bottled water. That’s 28 choices more than at my favorite pizzeria in Trastevere. So it must be good, right?

Cheapo Alternative: The atmosphere might not be as posh, but there is no doubt you won’t soon forget your authentic Roman meal at these three classic spots.

Hotel de Russie

Hotel de Russie bar coaster to hold that pricey beer. Photo: Bernard Polet

Cocktails

Stravinskij Bar, Hotel de Russie, Via Del Babuino,9

As Zoolander might say, this place is full of really, really, really ridiculously good looking people.

The Stravinskij Bar is part of the five-star Hotel de Russie, near Piazza del Popolo. The bar is within swanky landscaped gardens and is well known for terrific martinis that cost more than the spare change in your pocket. Popular with local and international VIPs, you’ll feel right at home here if you happen to be a VIP yourself.

Cheapo alternative: If you’re not out on the town with George Clooney, try Freni and Frizoni (via del Politeanna, 4), a trendy bar in Trastevere with yummy mojitos that are reasonably priced.

About the author

Sarah Tighe is a Rome-based writer getting fat on pasta and loving it. When she’s not eating somewhere in the Eternal City, she’s busy studying a masters of journalism (but thinking about food).

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