Moses Fountain Hotel, Rome: Review
Getting on a Ryanair flight is like getting on a bus, and not a very pleasant one at that. It’s a bus with no room for your bag, that costs more than your average bus, is devoid of comfortable seats and will soon be one that costs €1 to use the loo. Sigh. But a Ryanair flight just before Christmas when there is the tangible scent of desperation in the air and the risk of snow canceling your flight is a whole other circle of hell. So why do we keep doing it? Because it’s cheap and because they so hate to have to give passengers any form of compensation the flights are usually on time.
But while we can just about cope with being herded onto a tiny plane by santa hat wearing staff with singularly dour expressions and be forced to be a captive audience for the wide variety of crap they try to sell you while you’re in the air, cheap, flea pit youth hostels that used to be my accommodation of choice a couple of years ago will no longer cut it on a city break holiday. So on our recent weekend in Rome, we decided to compromise – cheap, crappy Ryanair flight with a nice hotel at the other end and the nice hotel in question was the Moses Fountain Hotel, Via 20 Settembre, 98.
The area is very handy, about a ten minute walk from Termini station or two minutes from Repubblica metro. It is also directly opposite Santa Maria della Victoria church which contains the somewhat racy Bernini sculpture of St. Theresa writhing in the ecstasy of her communion with God. But, while very central, the area is quite relaxed and quiet, especially at night so Moses Fountain, housed in the sixteenth century terminus of the Acquedotto Felice that lengthened the III Century Roman aqueduct, “Alessandrino” as part of a project envisioned by Pope Sixtus the Fifth, is a most tranquil sanctuary after exploring the city all day. If, like me, you are a huge fan of all things aquatic, another pleasant detail is the fact that the aqueduct still works and the hydraulic system is still visible in the basement of the building. The upper floors, where the bedrooms are located, originally hosted the fountain keeper’s workshop and apartment, and the hotel supplies drinking water to the American embassy in Rome.
The hotel makes the most of this distinguished heritage, with a very picturesque terrace, resplendent with chic floral displays, tables and very quirky chairs. You can eat your breakfast out here in warmer weather or smokers will enjoy the panoramic views of the church across the road and various government buildings on Via XX Settembre.
Moses Fountain is a very small hotel, which may be better described as an uber-luxe guesthouse, with a very small number of bedrooms, each of which has a theme. For our first two nights we stayed in the Indigo Velvet room on the top floor and, due to some kind of admin mix-up, a number of people had to swap rooms on the third night and we ended up in the Turtle Dove room. There is also a rather splendidly mad scarlet room, called the Swanky Cardinal. The two rooms we stayed in are both pictured below.
Each room had the standard features of luxury hotel rooms – an incredibly comfortable bed, decadent arm chairs in which to recline and flat screen TV with satellite channels (including MTV, Sky News and Sky Sports – to Derm’s delight). Moses Fountain had a few little touches that really set it apart, however. These included an absolutely amazing Nespresso coffee machine (if you can forget the whole ‘we hate you Nestlé’ thing) in each room.
And, not to be sneezed at, a 100% free and ever-replenished minibar filled with tins of coke, fanta, Peroni, fruit juice, Pringles, nuts etc and the thermostat which means you can control the heating in your room. This sounds like a small thing, but I always find most hotels insanely hot or really chilly so I found it very nice indeed to have control over the temperature. The rooms were also very quiet and had black out blinds so no streetlights to wreck your sleep – ah, it truly is how the other half live. For city centre, European hotel rooms they were also very spacious with lots of wardrobe space, arm chairs, desks, huge beds and palacial bathrooms. Turtle Dove room also has a balcony and blinds that are controlled via remote control, which must be the laziest indulgence possible!
So, that’s where you sleep, now what about the bathroom? The bathroom is a marble temple to the art of ablutions from the fancy Etro toiletries to the his and hers sinks, the fluffy bathrobes and slippers, the immensely deep bath and the rain-style shower head. One slight quibble might be that we didn’t find the water in the shower (yes, the very same water regularly quaffed by American diplomats) quite warm enough, even at its hottest setting although this wasn’t a problem in the bath.
Since Moses Fountain doesn’t have a restaurant, cafe, bar or even really a reception area as such beyond the outdoor terrace and the stylish wooden bench with the black feathery cushions just inside the door, there’s not a lot else to review. The staff at Moses Fountain (particularly Manuela) go above and beyond just hospitality – they will recommend and book restaurants for you, phone taxis for you, show you where to visit, book exhibition tickets for you. Anything you might want in other words. They serve you breakfast in your room whenever you want it, replenish your minibar, replace your towels and make your bed – not just once a day, oh no, but at least three times a day or basically whenever you go out so your room is always clean, tidy and in the same pristine condition as it was when you checked in. This was a rather alarming experience for me – every time you left a sock on the floor or a used coffee cup sitting on a surface you would return to find it efficiently tidied away, giving you a very brief insight into what must be the lifestyle of the rich and idle and you can begin understand the crazed ego of even the most C-list of celebrity. Someone else literally cleans up all your crap and within about oh, say, 5 minutes you begin to expect it.
As always, with a review of anywhere, the burning question is would you recommend it and would you return? To which the resounding answer is yes and yes. It’s not the cheapest hotel and, to me, it does feel like a very upmarket B&B in some respects but the staff are friendly and warm, Moses Fountain is the last word in chic comfort and the area is fantastic. For a city break that combines style, a central location and utter relaxation you couldn’t go far wrong staying here.
That’s all from W[r]ite Noise until after Christmas – we hope you have a very merry one!