10 Days In Italy: St. Regis Rome

In case you missed it, here are the previous and upcoming posts about our summer trip to Italy:

  • United Airlines To Rome
  • St. Regis Rome
  • Vatican
  • Osteria 44
  • Photo Essay of Angels & Demons
  • A Quiet Meal At Cul de Sac
  • Trevi Fountain (Semi) Closed For Business
  • A Fast Train To Venice
  • St. Regis San Clemente Island
  • Hotel Danieli
  • Antico Pignolo
  • A Quick Trip To Murano
  • How To Ride The Vaporetto (Water Bus) In Venice
  • Getting Lost In Venice
  • British Airways 787 Flight Home

If Rome is a special city for us, the St. Regis Rome is our special home.  And, it’s one of the best examples of why it’s worth playing the points and miles game.  This hotel is rarely under $500 a night and usually will set you back closer to $1,000.  That’s just not a realistic expenditure for us, but my minor obsession with points has enabled us to stay here a number of times over the years.

We arrived at Termini after a short, 30-minute ride and took the short walk to the hotel.  We had a few too many suitcases to make it a leisurely walk but we managed just fine.  I’ll be happy when Charlie is a bit older and can pull a suitcase!

Because I had registered 100 nights with Starwood Preferred Guest last year, I was able to take advantage of SPG’s Ambassador service to help plan the trip.  Shortly before we left, my Ambassador had suggested that there might be a surprise from the hotel.  That surprise manifested itself in a pretty awesome room upgrade.  We had reserved two Imperial rooms so we could request connecting rooms.  The entry level rooms (Superior) don’t have a lot of  connecting options.  Instead of giving us two Imperial connecting rooms, the property upgraded us to a Junior Suite for one room, connecting to a Deluxe for the other!

It was right around noon, obviously well before check-in time.  But, the St. Regis has always outperformed.  The last time we arrived in the early morning, they bought us a late brunch in the grand bar.  This time, our rooms were ready way ahead of time, and we were able to check-in right away.  Whether you have kids or not, if you have the opportunity to stay at the St. Regis Rome, there’s only one way to get to your room, IMO.

Sure, there’s an elevator bank near the front desk, but that’s not the way to go.  If you find the hallway behind the front desk and take it around to the back of the hotel, you’ll find an old-fashioned cage style elevator.  It was originally installed over 100 years ago and is still in operation today.  Not sure whether I enjoyed it more than the kids, but it’s a great piece that adds character to the property.  The rooms have plaques outside with door bells, and each has its own name.  Ours was Tempo di Esculapio, a reference to the temple of Aesculapius in Villa Borghese.

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120-year old elevator

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Water-powered elevator!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tempo Di Esculapio

Minutes after arriving in our room our butler rang the bell.  The St. Regis is famous for butler service in its suites, something I’m still not 100% sure how to take advantage of properly.  Our butler, Giuilo, immediately befriended the kids and made everything more pleasant.  He brought plenty of fresh fruit for the kids (and always made sure we had a full bowl during the entire stay), had a bottle of prosecco waiting for us in the evening along with little treats along the way.  We took advantage of the complimentary beverage service during our last day, ordering up coffee, juices and pastries.  I’m really not a coffee drinker, but it’s something I enjoy as an indulgent pleasure every time I’m in Italy.

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The kids really bonded with Giuilio, disappointed if they didn’t see him each morning and throughout the day as we returned to the property.  As an added twinkle in their eye, he even managed to rustle up a couple of ultra-cute stuffed animals with the St. Regis Rome logo on them.

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The rooms themselves were beautiful, as has every room we’ve ever stayed in there.  The Deluxe room had two twin beds, a small seating area by the window and a beautiful painting on the wall.  The bathroom was spacious and wonderfully appointed, with both a shower and deep soaking tub.

The suite was a large living room with a separate bedroom area.  Technically it was one big room but the layout made it feel like two separate rooms, and quite spacious.  There were two TVs, though we never actually turned them on, motorized blinds to black out the light at night, a phenomenal sound system and a large walk-in closet.  There was a couch and some soft seating as well as a desk.  We were more than comfortable.  The bathroom was also sizable, again with both a bathtub and shower.  The amenities are Remede.  While I’m not a huge fan, my wife loves them.

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Junior Suite Bedroom

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Suite Living Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Window/Seating Area

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Deluxe Bedroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Junior Suite Bedroom

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Deluxe Bedroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Suite Seating Area

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Suite Bathroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Suite Bathroom

Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum members get a free full breakfast at the property, served in Le Grand Bar.  It’s a sizable buffet, with plenty of fresh juices, an omelet station, standard American breakfast buffet items, a European-style breakfast buffet of meats and cheeses, and plenty of fresh pastry.  There’s also a small but reasonable Asian buffet as well as self-serve Champagne.  And, just in case that isn’t enough, there’s an iced coffee machine.

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Hot Buffet

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Fresh Juices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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American-style buffet

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Euro-style buffet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Euro-style buffet

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Breakfast Champagne!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Coffee Slushee, Anyone?

We found the quality of the buffet to be very good, with plenty of choices.  On the weekend, the service was a bit slower when the entire room was full.  But, based on the buffet layout, the only thing we needed our server for was specialty coffees, which were quite good.

We also did a quick dessert one night in Le Grand Bar.  Pricey, but a great Cafe Americano, pastry and gelato (Cappuccino for Michelle).

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Italian Cheesecake?

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Mmm, gelato

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Mousse

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STR Cappuccino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re up for fitness, take that old-fashioned cage elevator to the top floor and you’ll find the gym and spa.  I was a bit surprised at how nice the workout facility was.  Michelle was disappointed to learn when we discovered it on the last day of our stay that they have Pilates equipment, including reformers, that she could have used any time she wanted (they also do private classes).

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St. Regis Rome Grand Staircase

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Fitness Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Stay At The St. Regis Rome Without Breaking The Bank

This is an expensive property.  While SPG has other properties in Rome that are just fine (Westin Excelsior), the St. Regis is the grand dame.  SPG bumped this property up to a Category 7 this year, which means 30,000-35,000 points a night.

You can also use cash & points, for $275 & 15,000 points a night.

But, there are a couple other ways to get even better value.  If you’re looking for a better room, you’ll find the Deluxe and Imperial rooms for 31,500 and 32,500 points a night, respectively.  Since these rooms are bigger (the Imperial is 100 sf bigger on average than the basic room) and more well-appointed, it may be worth the extra points.

But, that’s not the whole story.  What if you can’t find availability for a standard room online for your dates of travel?  SPG doesn’t generally have all the upgraded room categories online for award inventory, but a quick call to customer service and a few thousand extra points may unlock extra inventory most people don’t know about.

Lastly, you can now use cash & points to book upgraded rooms.  In this case, expect to spend an extra $15 a night plus another 750 to 1,250 points a night for that upgraded room.

Again, while it might not be worth it to some people, having the option to pay just a little bit more to redeem for the dates you want is a hidden benefit we often use.  And, it generally nets you a nicer room.

I value my SPG points pretty highly, around 2 cents a piece.  A big part of that is for redemption at world-class properties like St. Regis Rome.  While the Starwood Preferred American Express is a great credit card to build up your Starpoint balance, that’s because it’s also really the only way to do it short of staying at Starwood properties.  The card does give you bonus points for charging at Starwood properties as well.

The SPG program has generous transfer options to airlines.  But, for me, the value is in the premium properties.  I made the mistake early on of transferring too many points to airlines.  I wish I had held onto those points for more awesome stays like this.

To me, Rome is the soul of Italy.  St. Regis is our home there.  The rooms are in excellent condition, wonderfully appointed.  The staff is excellent, the treatment as an elite member always top-notch.  If you can afford the high price of points (or, gasp, cash) to stay, there’s no other way to go.

14 Comments

  1. Thanks for the detailed review. Nice to see the St Regis excels at both its hard product and customer service. Looking forward to the rest of your trip reports. We’ll be visiting Rome for six days next May, staying one block South, on the Republic Plaza. Curious to compare the St Regis with the Boscolo Exedra, as I booked the room with Marriott points (and have Marriott Platinum status).

  2. This is a nice hotel. I can’t help but feel you got the ‘blogger’ treatment here. On all three of my stays, this hotel has taken the “you are entitled to one room class upgrade only.” Perhaps they’ve changed, but I can’t help but think that blogger getting exceptional treatment ! = non-blogger getting exceptional treatment.

    1. While I can’t be sure, I don’t think that was the case. I’ve had some pretty meh stays in the past couple years with SPG. My Ambassador used to work in the luxury collection, so I’m thinking he asked them to take good care of me.

  3. If this property is one of your benchmarks for setting your personal valuation of SPG points at two cents per point, that implies you value the 60K-70K points per night for two rooms at roughly $1200-$1400. So, if you were temporarily short of SPG points, let’s suppose because you had made a similar points redemption for an earlier family vacation and thus temporarily depleted your SPG account, would you really have been willing to spend $1200-$1400 in cash per night, even for what you’ve described was a top-notch experience?

    1. PH, St. Regis Rome is probably at the higher end of redemptions for me, being a category 7 now. Rates during our stay last year ranged from $600 to $1,000 a night, though rates for next summer look quite a bit lower right now. Maybe they’ll drop it to a cat 6? Wishful thinking.

      But, no, I wouldn’t consider a category 7 property a benchmark, since it’s at the outer edge in terms of redemptions. I had a stay this past weekend at Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey. That’s probably closer to a benchmark, though on the low side. Maybe something like Westin New York Grand Central, NYC or the Dolphin/Swan in Orlando?

      I usually get better than 2 cents value out of stays in NYC because of the average daily rate in that market. If I do redeem at a property like Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey, it’s usually plus/minus 2 cents.

      I don’t believe I would have been willing to spend over $1,000 a night at STR. But, I’m lucky enough that I haven’t been in a position where I’ve had to make that decision. With various earning for work and personal travel/spend, I haven’t run my balance down low enough. I did make the decision not to redeem Starpoints for US Open tickets this year because of some of my personal travel, but that’s probably the closest to a compromise I’ve had.

      1. This is a fun topic, probably even more fun over a few beers. 🙂

        So let’s look at the Westin NYC Grand Central: a quick look-up says a Category 6 award night is probably typically 25K points (I don’t actively participate in SPG myself so I don’t understand when the 20K points also listed for Category 6 is applicable). A valuation of two cents per point would make that equivalent to $500 cash. A quick check on westin.com says this Friday there’s a $299 rate, next Monday there’s a $450 rate (call it $500 inclusive of taxes). My experience with NYC hotels suggests $300-$500 is probably a reasonable range to think about for a top-notch hotel when there isn’t a large conference in town such that even yucky hotels can charge top rates and fill their rooms and the top-notch hotels are either sold out or selling rooms at their rack rates.

        So… something comes up for you, you need to be (or really want to be) in New York City for a weekend night for personal reasons, so no work reimbursement, and Grand Central Station is the perfect location for your needs. Do you: (A) spend $500 cash? (B) spend 25K SPG points? You get most of your SPG elite benefits with either (A) and (B), so that doesn’t help you choose between those two options. (B) counts toward future status whereas (A) doesn’t but for you, you’re already top tier with SPG (I think?) so that doesn’t matter a whole lot. Anyway, your valuation really ought to take those into consideration already anyway. So, your valuation suggests you should be indifferent between (A) and (B). So, if the cash price on the night you need is $475, you should with mental ease choose spending $475 over spending 25K points. Conversely if the cash price on the night you need is $525, you should with mental ease choose spending 25K points over spending $525. Is that really the case? Or does the cash price point have to be much higher or lower in order to really be at the threshold at which you are indifferent between spending dollars and spending points, and therefore raising the cash price only a tiny bit (“at the margin”) easily sways you from choosing to spend one versus the other?

        (Note I’m leaving out some other options from this analysis: you could of course look for a hotel which is equivalent in quality from your POV and perhaps cheaper in either cash or points; or you could look for a hotel which is lower in quality but perhaps a better value in either cash or points.)

        This isn’t purely pedantic, since if we can establish principles for our own personal valuations that make sense to us and make sense economics-wise, we can make better decisions. For example, if the entire credit cards rewards earning universe were limited to the Barclays cash-back card offering 2.2% rebate on spend vs. the SPG credit card offering 1.25 points per dollar spent, your valuation would support directing spend (whether real or manufactured) toward the SPG credit card at least until the annual points earning limit if one exists, by a 14% margin. But if your point of indifference really sets a valuation of 1.5 cents per point, then maybe the Barclays cash-back card is really better by a 17% margin.

        As to your point that you’ve organically earned enough SPG points recently that you feel that you haven’t had to choose… arguably that says your personal supply of points exceeds your personal demand for points, and assuming you don’t wish to violate the programs’ T&C’s by selling your excess supply of points, your valuation of those points should drop dramatically. If you really effectively have more points than you can spend, you should prefer spending SPG points even at one cent per point over spending actual cash.

        OK, let’s have another beer.

        1. Probably the shortest answer is that the Westin Grand Central is a category 5, thus 12,000 points a night. Every time I’ve looked to redeem, the price has been way over $300 a night, making it an easy decision. As you say, since I’ve consistently had enough Starpoints for my redemptions, I should feel comfortable redeeming for less than 2 cents a point. Not to put a damper on the debate, because I do enjoy debating even for theoretical exercises, but I generally use 2 cents as a guide and look at other factors when considering whether to stay at an SPG property and/or whether to pay with points or cash. Part of my reason for patronizing SPG right now is that I’m very close to lifetime status with them. When that goal is accomplished, I suspect my behavior will change. Maybe that shouldn’t change my earning behavior on its own, but it likely will make me less willing to compromise on properties, price etc.

          1. I mis-read the westin.com Web page, mea culpa. The difference between Category 5 (12K-16K) and Category 6 (20K-25K) is definitely quite significant.

            Over a few beers sometimes, we should discuss whether the ability to generate more points than one is prepared to spend annually at a cost of X cents per point (X taking into consideration reasonable valuation on the marginal labor & other costs for the incremental effort), coupled with having existing balances that are high enough that one doesn’t want to grow those balances year-over-year for fear of program inflation, means that X represents a kind of ceiling to how much we should value those miles/points, since it would be economically rational to burn additional miles/points at only slight better valuation than X and then simply accrue that much in replacement miles/points. Not after too many beers, though, or we’ll be too bleary.

            I’ll stop hijacking your post now. 🙂 I’ll tie back to your actual blog post with an observation that I’ve done way too much business international travel lately and way too little leisure international travel, and look forward to rectifying that next year, including redemptions for properties where the property itself makes a lovely part of the travel experience, such as you’ve shown in this post….

          2. I’m always up for a debate over a few beers, though I’m a bit of a lightweight, so beyond a few beers it won’t be much of a debate! And, I’m happy to keep hijacking the the post here, it’s a fun debate. That being said, I’m a self-avowed points hoarder. Personally, I’d rather have a big balance so I can always do fun things without an eye towards future planning. While that could change at some point, I’m lucky enough to stockpile now.

            Leisure travel is the lubrication that keeps me getting on the plane for all that business travel. I can certainly empathize with your frustration that those ratios are out of whack for you!

  4. Mrs. P and I have never been to Rome and currently have 5 night booked there in Sept. Have you stayed at the Westin Excelsior? I was wondering how it compares. Even with 5th night free it was a whopping 140k for our ressie. I’m so hoping that the new SPG 50 gift is a points offer redemption.

    1. The first time we went to Rome we stayed there. It’s perfectly fine. More than fine, actually. If not for the STR being so outstanding, I would stay at the Westin.

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