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15 Apr 2015

Emanuele Garosci's G Rough Hotel in Rome

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Beautiful in its historic dishevelment, and embellished with mid-century pieces to add a contrasting layer of cool, Rome's G Rough is the latest hotel setting out to 'redefine luxury'

Luxury hotels can be mixed affairs. Indeed, the very idea of luxury is a tricky path to tread, not least because the boundaries seem to shift depending on which element of the jet set one is aiming at. While some people are deeply impressed by solid gold bathtubs, others are not.

The new G Rough hotel in Rome is described in the press blurb as a particularly Italian take on luxury, which in practice means drawing on the rich classic heritage of Rome and the modern design pedigree that made the country the world leaders in furniture making.

G Rough is the brainchild of bon viveur Emanuele Garosci. It is fair to say that Garosci, a rally driver who often appeared in the tabloids alongside a former Miss Italy, embodied the Italian spirit. The hotelier was most famous for bringing the first Philippe Starck-designed hotel to Italy – the stylish PalazzinaG in Venice, opened in 2010. His untimely death from a suspected heart attack during a race late last year means that G Rough is now his legacy.

Without Starck's input this time, the hotel appears to be a more personal project, underlined by the fact that business partner Gabriele Salini's family has been in Rome for nine generations. If one were searching for a canvas with which to work, the historic Roman apartment building that now houses G Rough is hard to match.

Built in the 17th century and renovated around 200 years later, it has a haphazard charm; in the living spaces, the ancient walls are left in raw state as a backdrop to the showcase of 20th-century furniture, although it does feel somewhat like the old building is reduced to a support act at times. Each suite draws influence from a different Italian design master, from Giò Ponti to Paolo Venini and Ico Parisi.

Original timber ceilings have been restored in the bedrooms, warming what could be seen as being a little too pared back for the rates charged. The bathrooms, clad in dark mirrored tiles, capture more of a sense of glamour with deep, curvaceous cast-iron tubs piqued with brass fittings.

Garosci and Salini set out to redefine luxury, but the cocktail of historic building and modernist furniture seems more nostalgic than anything else. Nevertheless, G Rough is a fine offering befitting the swagger of its founder.

newsletter 2015