< ITALY | ROME: The Westin Excelsior
One of the world’s greatest classic hotels today, the iconic Westin Excelsior, takes its roots in one of the most prestigious streets of the capital, via Veneto. It was built by the Actiengesellschaft für Hotelunternehmungen, based in Lucerne, Switzerland, and officially inaugurated on January 18, 1906, as the Hotel Excelsior.
At that time Excelsior opened its doors in 1906, via Veneto was a suburban street, nothing more than a connecting road for promenades by carriage through the quaint Roman countryside. The
street was characterised by small informal restaurants where wine from “Castelli” (an area on the outskirts of Rome) was served and bicycles and bowling lanes. The ambitious enterprise of
building a big luxury Hotel with 200 rooms in a suburban area could be thought of as rash and absurd when the period and location are taken into consideration.
But the idea was an instant success. As soon as the hotel opened, it became well known in a very short time, despite pending troubles caused by the First World War. The development of the Hotel Excelsior grew progressively making it one of the leading hotels in the 1920’s twenties, and exactly in the holy year 1925, when the European and American tourism started to gain momentum.
Thanks to the appeal of the Excelsior, the hill on which Via Veneto finds itself saw the mush-rooming of fashionable cafés, bookshops and night clubs which replaced the small restaurants and became home to international smart-set. Via Veneto has attracted well-known exponents of culture, art and society, and artists such as Picasso, Apollinaire, De Chirico, Malaparte, Marinetti, Boccioni, Ungaretti, Longanesi used to meet at the fashionable “salon of the capitol”, while King Farouk of Egypt and Roman princes such as the Borgheses, the Ruspolis and the Massimos made Via Veneto an elegant society promenade.
The Excelsior has constituted a crossroads of cultural and social encounters. The evergreen “paparazzi” have often stood in excitement outside the Excelsior which was full of personalities such as Joan Crawford, Orson Wells, Liz Taylor, Richard Burton, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Catherine Deneuve, Prince Ranieri e Princess Grace of Monaco, the Kennedys, Paul Newman, Sean Connery, Joan Collins, Liza Minelli, Sylvester Stallone, the Rolling Stones, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross and many others. American writer Henry James said maybe the most iconic sentence about the Hotel "there is nothing so blissfully right in Rome, nothing more consummately consecrated to style".
Facing the street which was the cradle of the shining “Dolce Vita” and, thanks to the captivating style of Fellini, reached the collective imagination and became immortal, The Westin Excelsior establishes a link between a sparkling past and a dynamic present.
Nowadays the Westin Excelsior continues the charm of a legend and keeps the refined atmosphere of the 50’s alive, offering an exquisite welcome and an impeccable service in elegant décor, perfect even for the most demanding travellers. In the grand lounges and throughout the hotel, the exceptional decorative qualities of early nineteenth-century Empire styling are expressed in period antiques and architectural details.
#Andreas Augustin, Thomas Cane: Westin Excelsior Rome
The Most Famous Hotels In the World, 2008 | ISBN-10: 3900692246; ISBN-13: 978-3900692247
English language | 160 pages | Hardcover
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