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12 Hours in Rome and Intercontinental De La Ville Review

by on October 8, 2011 · 34 comments

in Intercontinental/ Ambassador, Trip Reports

I go to Europe frequently, but have never been to Rome. I know, it doesn’t make much sense and I need to correct it. That’s why, when I was planning my most recent award trip to Budapest, I specifically wanted to route via Rome on my way back to Miami (by the way my Alitalia trip from Rome to Miami was actually pretty good).

The way award space ending up working out was that I could fly non-stop from Budapest to Rome on Monday evening, arriving around 8:15pm and then fly on the non-stop from Rome to Miami the following morning at 9:20am. I briefly contemplated getting an airport hotel, but what fun would that be?! I couldn’t justify splurging on a paid night since I’d barely be using the hotel room, but I did see the Intercontinental Rome, which is perfectly situated for a quick trip into the city, was available on cash & points for 30,000 Priority Club points and $60 instead of the normal 40,000 points a night. It was a no brainer and since I’ve never redeemed my points as a Royal Ambassador, I wanted to see if they’d truly deny me all Royal Ambassador benefits since they are technically only applicable on paid stays.

My flight from Budapest to Rome was actually on the Alitalia subsidiary Air One and the most unique part was that I was the only person in business class, so service was expectedly attentive. The meal was nice as well – some ham, parmigiano and other assorted goodies.

Typical intra-European business class seats. I had the bulkhead so plenty of legroom

Perfectly enjoyable meal for the 90 minute flight

We landed early at Rome Fiumicino, but I was slowed down by our parking at a remote gate and the requisite slow bussing to to the terminal. However, I ended up just hopping in a cab and 30 minutes and 40 Euros later, I was at the Intercontinental, which is situated just atop the Spanish steps on Via Sistina.

Intercontinental Rome

At check-in, I was greeted and told that since I was using points, most of my Royal Ambassador benefits, like the free mini bar, would not apply. Although he did say I could have a late check-out, which I didn’t need and that I got upgraded to an executive room on a high floor. Fair enough. The hotel was going for 250 euros a night ($335) so my 30,000 Priority Club points saved me roughly $300 – not amazing, but not bad.

The room was nice, if a little bit cramped. The main benefit was the shared huge outdoor patio with stunning views of the city. The views were even better at sunrise when I nearly tried changing my flight to spend at least one more day, though I didn’t want to wage a battle since Delta has the super annoying rule that you can no longer change award tickets within 72 hours of departure – even for Diamond medallions.

Executive room

A nice amenity, though I didn't even get a chance to use it

 

Decent sized bathroom

 

Huge terrace

Terrace view of Rome at night

After getting settled in the room, I immediately went out for a walk around town. I turned right out of the hotel and just a couple hundred feet away was the top of the Spanish Steps. I walked down them, took in the view and the vibe – lots of lovers drinking wine and enjoying the warm evening.

View from atop the steps

The steps from below

I turned left at the bottom of the steps and walked to the Trevi fountain, which was packed, but pretty gorgeous at night. I ended up ambling around and getting a bit lost and then realized I had worked up a huge appetite. My plan all along was to just walk by somewhere that struck me and hope for a great meal.

Trevi fountain at night

Sure enough, I walked by a really quaint restaurant on the Piazza dei SS Apolostoli named Abruzzi. I got a good feeling and then I saw a table of priests inside eating, so I figured it must be good if the local clergy was supporting it! Plus, there was one empty table on the outdoor patio just calling my name.

Abruzzi

I ended up ordering the bucatini with Italian ham (bacon) to start, veal scallopini with lemon sauce as my main and tiramisu for dessert. The whole meal was great, though I can’t honestly say it was earth-shattering. I’ve eaten a lot of really high quality Italian food in NYC and in my travels, so while it was way better than your typical pizza join Italian fare, it was roughly on par with many other meals I’ve had. For my return trip in November, I’m definitely going to reach out to TPG readership to direct me to really unique and memorable places to eat since you’ve never led me wrong!

Delicious bucatini (thick spaghetti)

Veal scaloppini with lemon

Splendid, creamy tiramisu and espresso. Don't tell my trainer

After walking for a couple more miles, I ended up calling it a night since I had to be up at 6:45am for my 9:20am flight. Overall, it was a good first taste of Rome, but I know there’s much more to see and do and I look forward to many returns, though I think I’m going to spend a couple days of my next trip in Florence. Stay tuned!

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  • Ed

    Looking back at it, do you think it was a good idea to have only a couple of hours in Rome? And shouldn’t you also add in the cost of the 2 taxi rides ($120) to your cheap room?

    Not trying to be a downer but I just wonder if a very very short stay was the best planning….

  • Anonymous

    It was totally worth it and it was the only way I could fly to Miami on an award. So it saved me the time and money of having to fly back to NYC and then buy a ticket to Miami.

  • Maury

    How much did you pay for the ticket from Miami to Rome and roundtrip?

  • cagalindo

    When in Florence,
    Il Latini
    Mesopotamia Kebab
    Salamanca
    Grom
    Gusta Pizza

    Roam through oltrarno, nice area less touristy.

  • Maury

    What would it be for coach?

  • Anonymous

    I did all business class for 100k delta and $90
    JFK-ams-budapest, Budapest-Rome (overnight)-miami

    It would have been 60,000 miles for coach

  • Maury

    You called up Allitallia and used which miles?

  • Anonymous

    I used Delta miles so I called delta. You always call the airline whose miles you have

  • Maury

    Thanks!

  • Jamesrkunz

    Not a criticism, just a perspective, but it would kill me to only spend a few hours in a major world city I’ve never visited. Hell I don’t even like the idea of using the airport in a country I haven’t been to.

  • Anonymous

    Yea I hear you.. But for me it’s just all a part of the adventure! I don’t like sitting still so dropping into a new city, if just for a meal, is fun to me

  • David

    Wait… so with one night in Rome, you didn’t hit the collosseum? I mean, you’ll definitely be back but that would have been first on my list! Amazing city for sure. Going for my 3rd time at Christmas.

  • Tyler P

    Nice work! I’ll comment further when you go back for the next trip but I spent a few months living in Rome this summer and its a fantastic city — I have some great recommendations for you!

  • Anonymous

    The Train from FCO into downtown is 17 euro and nonstop in to the central terminal and then a short hop to Spanish Steps (next time). Rome’s been my hub all year and I can say that I’ve seen most of the big ticket items in half a day, not fun but a rush. I’ve been contemplating staying where you stayed but the price seems steep.

  • Anonymous

    Under normal circumstances I’d take the train for sure.With only ~3 precious hours, I didn’t want to mess with trains on a Monday evening. But thanks for the tip- I’ll email you before I head back next time.

  • Shenandoah

    Even better than Florence is the rest of Tuscany. Take a wine tour for the day with a group.

  • Kathy

    I ditto that Tuscany is much nicer. If you go to the museums in Florence, spluge for tour guides.

  • Benthelefty

    A quick question/interesting thing: you mentioned being the only one in business class on your Air One flight. Have you ever been in coach (I know, horrific) on a flight when you knew there was extra space or seas in business/first, and upon boarding snagged a seat in business to see what happened? Granted it’s a gamble and you could be embarrassed if asked to show your ticket, but if no one asks you could stay up front w/o any problem. Thoughts (or anyone else?)

  • Benthelefty

    A quick question/interesting thing: you mentioned being the only one in business class on your Air One flight. Have you ever been in coach (I know, horrific) on a flight when you knew there was extra space or seas in business/first, and upon boarding snagged a seat in business to see what happened? Granted it’s a gamble and you could be embarrassed if asked to show your ticket, but if no one asks you could stay up front w/o any problem. Thoughts (or anyone else?)

  • shaker

    For coffee ice cream…Grom has the best caffe gelato in Italy…and that’s sayin somthing!

  • JohnnieD

    That’s the beauty of the <24 hr connect….dinner and a stroll from Spanish Steps to Trevi fountain, I would have done the same thing!!

  • Blutangle

    I have followed several of your trips on this site and I can’t help but wonder where you get the funds for such extravagant trips considering you only fly first or business on short and long flights, stay at these top tier places and pay out for cabs and expensive meals and spa treatments and a trainer and only stay one or two nights and move on. People give you top tier status and you live in New York which isn’t cheap.
    I wonder how this can be funded trip after trip.

  • James

    When I was a kid my Dad and I were flying FRA-CAI-ADD on a LH A300 and my Dad had not-so-generously booked himself into business and me into coach. 90% of the plane got off in CAI so I snuck up to business on the second leg. The typical LH crew were huffy and made it clear I wouldn’t be getting the nicer meal, but they let me stay.

  • Anonymous

    My entire business class flight cost me $90 out of pocket. The hotel was $60. The meal was $40. I don’t think thats a lot of money.

    As for the other things in life, like spending money on a gym and trainer- we all have priorities. I don’t have any kids or a mortgage so I spend most of my money on travel.

  • Anonymous

    I grew up in Rome before moving to the US for college and still visit my parents regularly so by all means post a recommendation request as you get closer to your trip and I’ll gladly steer you in the right direction.
    Also, please tell us about your award ticket strategy – I’m going to guess DL again – cause I’ve found it to be a really tough redemption. To the point that I had to burn my 100K BA sign-up bonus flying Club World through Heathrow last June, with the nightmarishly high taxes to boot (I know, I know, but I really have no plans to fly LAN).
    And while I agree that less than 24 hours is almost torturously brief, sometimes that’s the way it goes with miles, and why not? Better than nothing. Without flaming anyone, I must confess I’m not a big fan of the thinly veiled judginess in some of the posts.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never done this because they’d quickly realize you weren’t on the manifest and I couldn’t imagine the walk of shame back to coach!

  • Anonymous

    Yep- 100,000 Delta miles and $90 for KLM JFK-AMS-BUD, then Alitalia BUD-FCO-MIA

    I found all award space on Expertflyer.com and then called Delta to book it- had no issues.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry – I meant reward strategy for your upcoming trip to FCO…

  • Anonymous

    I actually bought a discount business class ticket to help me re qualify for Diamond
    http://thepointsguy.com/2011/09/my-year-end-elite-status-spree-begins/

  • JNYC

    Rome: my favorite city in the world. Won’t ever tire of visiting Rome. Bellisimaaaa!

  • Michael

    It should be NOTED that the 72 hour rule is not written in stone. I was at CDG on an award ticket that was supposed to take me to AMS for 20 hours than to LAX (on old 747) and I changed it on the spot back to LAX direct (on a new AF 777) and they allowed me to do it for 110 Euro change fee — no mention of 72 hour rule — so it doesn’t hurt to ask if you end up in Rome and wanting an extra day!

  • Tiki2278

    I have wondered about how you get the ff miles if you are always using ff miles and a little cash for your fares. I understand the ff programs to not give miles on award tickets.
    Wouldn’t I have to pay full fare eventually to collect free miles ?

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