In the past 48 hours, I’ve been covered in salt and scrubbed from head to toe, bathed in what looked and felt like a giant oil spill, been caked in mud, wrapped in clingfilm and left to bake for 20 minutes, and hosed down with ferocious jets of freezing cold water. And I feel better than I have for a long time.
I’ve also had various physical and medical tests, done a hard Pilates class, a traditional hatha yoga session, had Tibetan singing bowls chime over my chakras, and been rewarded with incredible food by acclaimed chef Heinz Beck, whose La Pergola restaurant in Rome has been awarded three Michelin stars.
I’m an hour’s drive from Rome at Palazzo Fiuggi, a wellness medical retreat that is now fully open following COVID-19 delays. The grand palace—a hotel for much of its life—has recently been refurbished to the tune of €30 million ($32.5m), and is now home to a state-of-the-art spa and wellness facility spanning 6,000 square feet (557 sq m). There are also 102 rooms and suites to choose from, among them the Presidential, the Imperial, and the Royal (pictured above)—where Italian kings and queens would stay, and which, like all of the rooms here, has a clean, contemporary aesthetic but also showcases some precious antiques from the 1930s.
The treatments I’ve had are part of the five à la carte holistic well-being programs that are at the heart of the reborn Palazzo and designed to help kickstart “a longer life better lived.” Program options include Optimal Weight, Deep Detox (which I’m sampling), and Complete Life Rewind.
Each bespoke program can be booked for seven or 14 days and combines exercise, treatments, and therapies with tailored nutrition by global superstar chef Beck, who spent two years creating a menu of 1,600 dishes that make the most of local, seasonal, biodynamic produce, and ensure that guests never eat the same thing twice.
Highlights of my meals include citrus salad with beetroot ice cream and blueberries, variations of artichokes such as topinambour with pine nuts and mixed seeds, and an outstanding spaghetti with lemon pesto. Every dish is Instagram-ready and belies the fact that my daily calorie intake while here is under 2,000.
The Palazzo, 2,297 feet (700 m) above sea level (“oxygen-rich air comes for free,” as one doctor puts it) is surrounded by 20 acres (8 ha) of beautiful parkland to enjoy in between treatments. There are also two swimming pools to lounge around, or the cute town to explore.
My visit ends with a chat with my designated doctor, who shares the results of my bioelectrical impedance analysis. Among other things this tells you your body’s biological age. I am, apparently, actually 13 years younger, physically, than it says on my passport.
Next Stop: Boutique Hotel J.K.Place
Thus rejuvenated I head to Rome for the last night of my Italian jaunt, to J.K. Place, a boutique hotel moments away from the Spanish Steps. Named after a father, founded by a son, and with fancy bathroom lotions by a daughter, J.K. Place is a family affair. The son, Ori Kafri, co-founder of J.K.Place together with Eduardo Safdie, opened J.K. Place Roma (named in honor of his dad Jonathan Kafri) in 2013, after converting a 17th-century villa next to Palazzo Borghese into a chic hotel. Kafri, Safdie, and their team hope that J.K. Place “will feel like a home away from home, somewhere relaxed where they always feel welcome.”
There is a pleasant informalness to the hotel, with its “welcome” in the living room, with daytime coffee or afternoon/evening glass of prosecco (“we don’t like the word check-in”) and friendly, “we know what you want before you have to ask” staff. J.K. Café is equally unstuffy and serves a menu that changes daily. I eat here a couple of times: excellent fresh salads, buffalo mozzarella DOP from Campagna with tomatoes and fresh basil, and excellent house-made pastas.
The hotel is a great base from which to explore Rome, but, feeling relaxed from my detox, I also find myself in no hurry to rush out—public areas feel more like the grand rooms of a family home than a hotel and were designed for lounging around in. There’s also a well-stocked library, should the weather not tempt you outside.
Personalization is big here: ahead of your visit, one of the team will give you a call to find out what kind of accommodation you’d like—there are 11 different styles—and to plan any particular Rome experiences you might fancy, such as a behind-the-scenes tour of Maison Fendi or an expert’s view of the Vatican.
On the Market
Located in the centre of Rome, just a short walk from Parco dei Daini, this 1930s villa is fully restored featuring decorated doors, floors inlaid with marble and parquet, and glass walls. Set across three levels, the villa is surrounded by a 16,000-square-foot (1,500 sq m) park with tall trees, two sequoias from the Roman era, and a gazebo. There’s covered parking for six cars, which can be accessed via two driveways.
This two-level penthouse is located in the historic Palazzo Muti Bussi building, which was designed in 1585 by architect Giacomo della Porta, part of the Italian Baroque movement. Just a few steps from Piazza Venezia and the Campidoglio, the building is adorned with sculptures and artifacts from ancient Rome, and has a 24-hour concierge service for residents. The penthouse has four lounges, three of which feature fireplaces, and direct access to a terrace. There are two further terraces, of which one enjoys panoramic views across the rooftops of Rome.