Fewer and fewer places truly put out the welcome mat for those of us who love cigars. Thankfully there is Rome, where the sight of a cigar coming from its case brings more smiles than frowns. And when in Rome, it's hard to find a more cigar-friendly place than the Rome Cavalieri, a gorgeous hotel with stunning views, superior service and a three-star restaurant complete with its own cigar lounge.
The Cavalieri, which is part of the Waldorf-Astoria group of hotels, has a Rome address, but is located outside the ancient walls that defined the city back in the days of the empire. Its location—near the peak of Monte Mario, the tallest hill in the Italian capital—affords a jaw-dropping view of the city's many sights. Ask for a room with a city view and you'll see Rome in all its splendor, from the Pantheon to the Colosseum and the spire of St. Peter's Basilica in nearby Vatican City. The view comes with a trade-off—you'll need to ride 15 or 20 minutes to get to the city proper, and getting a cab or Uber may take some time—but being up and away from the bustle of the city center is a welcome blessing.
The Cavalieri brims with amenities: several pools, a spa with Roman-style baths and steam rooms, even a collection of more than 1,000 pieces of fine art dating back to the 16th century. The grounds are dotted with mature stone pines, towering trees bare of branches up to the canopies that seem sculpted by an artist. The Imperial Club offers a quiet and relaxing place for breakfast, a snack or a glass of prosecco before dinner.
Among several restaurants, the hotel's signature eatery is La Pergola, which holds a Grand Award from Wine Spectator magazine (Cigar Aficionado's sister publication) and is the only restaurant in Rome with three Michelin stars. Executive chef Heinz Beck offers two tasting menus, one with 11 courses, the other seven, with such intriguing dishes as John Dory with citrus fruit steam and filet of venison with chestnut cream. (For a shorter meal, the hotel's L'Uliveto serves an outstanding dish of cacio e pepe, the Roman pasta made with Pecorino Romano and copious amounts of black pepper). When you finish your meal, adjourn to the adjacent Cigar Lounge (pictured), which is decorated with 19th-century paintings and features a humidor with a selection of handmade Cubans.
Should you stay at the hotel in August, when La Pergola and its Cigar Lounge are closed for the holiday, simply take your cigar to the balcony (each room at the hotel has one) with a bottle of wine or a cocktail from the well-appointed lobby bar. Light your Cohiba as the moonlight reflects off the stunning white marble far below, puff and contemplate the glory that is Rome.