Corso 281 review, Rome, Italy: The boutique hotel that was once a baroque palace

Corso 281 review, Rome, Italy: The boutique hotel that was once a baroque palace

There is too much luxury a hotel can provide. The tap fittings in the bathrooms can only be so fancy. The pillow menu can only be so extensive. The bed can only be so wide.

When you have reached the pinnacle of those tangible things when no further improvements can be made the concept of luxury comes down to one factor: Service sets you apart. Get the service right make it personal make it professional and make it seamless and the concept of luxury goes to a whole new level.

Corso 281 has all of those tangible traditional trappings. The hotel is set in a restored 18th century baroque palace on Via del Corso one of Rome's most famous streets a stone's throw from the Vittorio Emanuele II monument and Piazza Venezia.

It has only Twelve suites each with a maximum capacity of three, and which were designed by Milanese architect Chiara Caberlon. These domiciles all have hardwood flooring and Carrara marble bathrooms; there are plush king-sized beds in very personalized minibars Bulgari toiletries Samsung smartphones with 4G internet and free local and international calls as well.

The suites have something else as well something you only appreciate when you crack a door or a window overlooking Via del Corso open and the cacophony of one of Rome's main thoroughfares comes pouring into the room: the sirens the shouts,  the car engines and the horns. The double glazing on the windows and doors you realiz is phenomenal.

"I searched for four years to find the right ones" smiles Natalino Gisonna the suave former lawyer who is now the owner and manager of Corso 281. "They are really amazing."

Corso 281 has everything you would expect from a 5 star boutique hotel. The true luxury is service. Here it's personal. Natalino is from Calabria in the south of Italy an area where he says warm hospitality is a way of life. That attitude has been transferred to Corso 281 where there is a feeling of family despite all the fancy surrounds.

It begins before you even arrive when you are asked weeks in advance to select your preferred bed linen, pillow, mattress. You are asked what you would like the minibar stocked with whether you have a favorite champagne or liqueur.

It continues on arrival where you are free to relax with a coffee in the basement once a vault when the building functioned as a bank, today a gallery space, wine cellar, library while the check in process takes place. You are given options for your stay: where to eat, where to drink, where to visit. And here's the most important thing: Natalino is the well connected Roman friend you always dreamed of having.

A last minute table at the great trattoria down the road? Natalino knows the head waiter. You want to tour an art gallery nearby when there's no one else around? Natalino knows the curator. You want a private showing of the latest Roman fashion without leaving your hotel room? Natalino knows a personal shopper who will make it all happen.

This access is the sort of thing you need a local for a well connected local a local with impeccable taste. Natalino is that local. That's why I'm taking him up on the restaurant booking heading out with the waiter's name in my head, knowing that in this city where contacts are everything I will be treated like family at the trattoria either. Well that's luxury.



Singapore Airlines flies daily from Australian ports to Rome, via Singapore. See


Corso 281's suites include breakfast and 24 hour check in and check out. Room rates from €320 $505 a night in low season and €750 $1185 in high season. See

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