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Thursday, October 14, 2010
RST Top 40, #15: The View from the Hotel Raphael's Rooftop Bar
Sitting on a rooftop bar is one of our favorite ways to be in Rome – above the noise and detritus of the city, often with a fascinating angle on the city’s architecture and history.
The rooftop bar of the Hotel Raphael stands in here in our Rome the Second Time Top 40 for all good rooftop bars – like Il Goccetto stands in for all authentic wine bars at # 36 in our RST Top 40. In other words, it’s not the only one, but it’s the type of Top 40 experience we value.
St. Peter's in the background
Hotel Raphael’s many attributes start with its gorgeous exterior – especially when the bougainvillea are spilling down the whole building’s front--continues with its small but intriguing lobby that includes original artwork – one of our favorites being a WWII painting with a German soldier in view, and of course the rooftop itself. Hotel Raphael’s rooftop is large enough and has close-in views of lovely buildings like the church of Santa Maria della Pace, housing Bramante’s famous cloister, and the back of Borromini’s Sant’Angese in Agonia that faces Piazza Navona. And it has views that stretch across the flat lands of the city of Rome, the Campo Marzio, across the Tiber to the dome of St. Peter’s.
picture Romans throwing coins at corrupt politician Craxi here
The hotel has a good scandal in its history too, from the times in the 1990s when Socialist politician Bettino Craxi stayed there. He was so on the take that Roman citizens stood outside the hotel and when he came out threw coins at him, yelling “do you want these too!” Craxi lived out his life in exile in Tunisia.
Hotel Raphael’s rooftop bar comes in at #15 in RST’s Top 40. But, as we said, there are other rooftops to try, including Hotel Gladiatori (looking down on the Coliseum), Hotel Forty-Seven (looking over the Tiber), Grand Hotel de la Minerve (on top of the Pantheon), Radisson Blu ( a trifle Euro chic for us, but expansive in size and view), Albergo Mediterraneo (looking over… well, not much, but still fun – the last two are close to the train station), Hotel Bernini Bristol (looking over Piazza Barberini, but in the second rank for us, because you have to eat dinner to get a table with that view). All these are in Rome the Second Time’s final chapter or in blogposts here.
Getting to a rooftop bar sometimes takes a little guts. Many aren’t advertised; you just find the elevator and go up. And the drinks often are pricey (Euro 15 per glass at Gladiatori tops our list to date). But, enjoy the ride, and the view – which you’re paying for.