On a secluded part of coastline just outside of Rome, where emperors took refuge from love and war in seaside pads, is the manicured Etruscan paradise of La Posta Vecchia. Today the Pellicano-owned hotel offers respite to decidedly more modern - though perhaps no less life-weary - guests.
Built on the request of Prince Lelio Orsini in 1640, it's La Posta Vecchia's recent history that most appeals. In 1960, the property was purchased by American oil magnate J. Paul Getty - once the richest man in the world - before being converted into a hotel in 1990. Bed down like a billionaire and rise to ogle over 17th-century tapestries and marble busts of Roman emperors - all a part of the collection curated by Getty with his art-historian friend Federico Zeri. A renaissance home for a renaissance (wo)man, interiors are as resplendent - and palatial - as they get.
Minimalists should ready themselves for a baptism in the baroque - or promptly run and hide. Comprising of a total of 19 bedrooms, eight of which are suites, rooms at Posta Vecchia are decidedly decadent. Gold accents, beautiful tapestries and jewel-toned upholstery are presented at every opportunity. An aristocratic aesthetic means canopied beds and velvet headboards, chandeliers swinging from chestnut beams on wood ceilings and floors swathed in rich woven carpets are commonplace. In the bathrooms, hand-painted Italian tiles and personalised bath amenities by La Bottega Official - all whimsically named - provide further indulgence.
What's for breakfast?
A munificent buffet breakfast, including eggs, bacon, sausages, cereals, breads, cold cuts, pastries and other sweet treats (chocolate gateau at 8am on a Tuesday anyone?) is served in The Cesar restaurant. With a particular focus placed on natural and local produce, grab a Richard Ginori plate and do the rounds; two sittings is best. Ask for a table on the veranda with views of the sea, and luxuriate over a long, late breakfast.
How about lunch and dinner?
Lunch, a snack menu and dinner are also available at The Cesar. If you're just here for one night there are difficult choices to be made: will you opt for the white truffle or a courgette flower is just the first in a series of torturous rounds of this or that? Come dinner, grab a sea-spying, candlelit table and have your taste buds teased by sea bass and crab, followed by pink breast of pigeon.
Get a taste for something you fancy? Culinary classes and courses from head chef Antonio Magliulo are available on request. Our advice: start with a two-course Italian lunch.
Is there a bar?
While there is no formal bar, La Posta Vecchia's drawing room mixes an excellent negroni. Nurse your poison of choice as long as it takes for the sun to set, tasteful piano music tinkling harmoniously in the background.
Revel in the rays of the Roman sun, breaking for dips in the indoor swimming pool before returning to your chaise longue and ordering a Martini (with three olives). A little beyond the indoor pool's arched windows and glass doors, you'll find the entrance to the spa. Treatments air on the side of holistic, following a farm-to-spa mentality - with product ingredients sourced from the hotel's verdant gardens. Make sure to leave time for a caldarium steam bath pre-massage.
Those looking to up the ante can avail the personal trainer service, though we preferred to grab a complimentary bicycle and tour the grounds beyond the gates.
Things you should know
Rome Fiumicino Airport is a 30-minute drive away, making La Posta Vecchia a great outgoing or incoming destination for your Roman holiday.
Built on second-century Roman ruins, the hotel boasts a private museum in its basement. Ogle at colourful mosaics, plates, statues and vases that were dug up by archaeologists on site. When you've had your fill of art and antiquity, there's no shame in grabbing a DVD from reception and clambering back into the finery of your bed. We're willing to bet that this is a novel experience you won't get back home, so enjoy it while it lasts.
Within a short walk I can find…
The beach (lapped by the Tyrrhenian Sea) is reachable by way of cement stairs at the far end of the restaurant. The hotel's beautifully kept Italian gardens are also worth a ramble.