Interiorssneak peeks

A boutique hotel with more than a touch of retro in Rome

by Amy Azzarito

Israeli-born and New York-based travel photographer Sivan Askayo always manages to find the coolest hotels no matter where she lands (this hotel in Lisbon was one of my favorites). (Check out her blog  for her other finds.)  RetRome is a boutique hotel in Rome’s Celio neighborhood, just few steps away from the Colosseum. The hotel, managed by two Israelis, is unique in its commitment to retro and vintage design and furniture. After learning the ropes of the hotel business by working in a small Roman hotel while in school, owner Moti Erdeapel started own small hotel with a local friend. His first hotel was located in a small space near Rome’s Central Train Station and due to a tight budget, the pair furnished the hotel with furniture found in flea markets and garage sales. After a few years, there were able to move the hotel to it’s current location – a larger space where they could greater comfort and better amenities to their guests, but they kept the same retro spirit. (Thanks, Sivan!)  –Amy

Image above: This room is a tribute to Italy’s cinematic golden age.  During the 1950s and ’60s Italian cinema was at its peak with grand masters like Fellini and Pasolini and De Sica created new generous of the art and brought international stars to Rome.  Together with a renaissance of Italian industrial designers, it was a period of creativity and growth. The room features a unique bed with a built-in light and radio system (dated to the end of the 1960s), a few paintings by painter, and personal friend, Carlo Quatrucci featuring Italian vintage Icons like the Vespa and a graphic art work by Andrea Buonafortuna, a local artist featurring the immortal kiss from Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita”.

Image above: Our reception and lounge area is my personal space for experimenting and I like to change the interior and decor often, I play with colors and furniture and different styles but what always remains are the two huge images of Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe. These two mega icons of an era are the first to welcome the guests.The two posters were part of a publicity campaign for a photography exhibition from the 1950s that took place in in Rome back in 2005.

Image above: The bed gives the room an over-the-top romantic feel. I was inspired by a scene in 1950s movie. The headboard, the same as in few other rooms in the Hotel, was custom made for us. I designed it and bought the fabric (purple velvet) in the old textile bureau of Rome which is located in the historic Jewish ghetto. I then commissioned a local furniture maker execute the design. The bedside tables, which are mahogany wood with chrome frame work, were actually found and rescued those from a beautifully furnished old house which was about to get a complete renovation and the new owners were about to throw them away.

Image above: For the first floor, we wanted to create a unique effect in the corridors so we create a patchwork that is made up different floor tiles, which are all hand made using a traditional Spanish technique. The effect is intended to surprise and entertain guests who walks onto the floor for the first time. That is for me the whole idea behind our approach to hospitality.

Image above: These clock and vase are placed on a bedside table in a room which is predominantly white with a beautiful blue flowered Spanish tiles. The strong colors of these objects create a contrast between them and the surrounding calm colors of the room. The watch was found in a Sunday flea market in Rome and the vase is part of a collection of 1960s pottery which I bought in Amsterdam few years ago.

Image above: This library is built in our reception area, inside a niche that is part of the original floor plan. I have to admit, that I was inspired by a hotel I stayed in Prague with an similar uneven and crazy shaped library. I filled our shelves with everyday items from the ’60s and ’70s. All these bright colored objects placed in an organized chaos on a white background make a great conversation piece.

Image above: I enjoy playing with everyday items from the midcentury era. This “space age” clock has great lines and futuristic shape and the color boasts an optimism and childlike spirit that it makes people smile when ever they pass by it in the reception area.

Our reception and lounge area is my personal experimenting area, I like to change the interior and decor often, I play with colors and furniture and different styles but what always stays in place are the two huge images of Marlon Brando and Marilyn Monroe. These two mega icons of an era are the first to welcome the guests and make them feel at home, if you know Marilyn, you will feel at home, and who doesn’t know that lady? The two posters were a publicity to a photography exhibition from the 1950’s that took place in in Rome back in 2005.

Image above: These beautiful patterned tiles are in one of the two small doubles. We continued the same pattern in to this room’s private balcony which create a nice continuation and unifies the inside with the outside.

Image above: This is one of two small double rooms we offer. the challenge with smaller spaces is how to let the guest feel spacious and comfortable in the room. Hence a very minimal decor with lighter colors and a choice of furniture that goes with the natural lines of the room. We added some fun vintage objects that give color and character.

Suggested For You


Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.