Rebecca Hall heads to the ‘Island of the Knights’, the Greek island of Rhodes to experience some opulent Italian glamour at Hotel Grande Albergo Delle Rose.
The Greek island of Rhodes–the ‘Island of the Knights’ is so named because for two centuries, 1310-1522, the Knights of St John ruled it, influencing the architecture and monuments of the island, not to mention the famous Old Town of Rhodes with its Palace of the Grand Masters and Street of the Knights with its seven 16th century ‘inns’, all with a façade decorated with emblems to reflect where each Knight originated from.
Rhodes Old Town, behind the castle walls, is a bustling neighbourhood with over 6000 dwellers who work and inhabit the houses within, earning itself the honourable title the ‘Oldest Living Old Town in Europe’, and UNESCO protected status. I love coming back to Rhodes time and again to merely get lost wandering the cobbled alleyways and imagining I can hear pirates running through the streets.
The turbulent history of Rhodes in general, with its Byzantine, Ottoman, Arabic and Venetian influences and then Italian rule from 1912–1943 have all influenced its architecture, and nowhere is this more prevalent than in the unique Hotel Grande Albergo Delle Rose. Initially marketed as The Casino Hotel due to the fact it’s right next door to ‘Casino Rodos’, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I was invited to experience this property, imagining a Las Vegas style glitz which, to be honest, is not my cup of tea as it would be in stark contrast to this beautiful old city.
Thankfully I could not have been more wrong.
The Casino of Rhodes and Hotel Grande Albergo Delle Rose are both located in the perfect spot; literally right on the water’s edge with its own beach access, not far from the main port. The Casino opened in 1999, but my interest was the hotel, which after two decades of operating mainly for the VIP needs of the Casino guests, now operates autonomously from the Casino, attracting guests in its own right.
Meaning ‘The Hotel of the Roses’ in Italian, the Italian Governor of Rhodes built the Grande Albergo Delle Rose between 1925 and 1927 and has hosted, throughout its time, stars such as Gregory Peck and dignitaries such as Winston Churchill and Aristotle Onassis. Its further claim to fame is that it was the place, in 1949, where the Arab Israeli Peace and Ceasefire Agreement was signed.
After a period of decline and abandoned from the 70’s, in 2002 it was completely renovated, giving a further lease of life to the port area.
From the outside front entrance, I personally didn’t feel it was a particularly striking building, maybe because the Casino sign to the side of it distracted me. Yet it’s a hard building to miss with its arched entranceway and brown hues. It was later at night, when the façade facing the beach lit up that I started to appreciate its magnificence. It wasn’t until I stepped foot over the threshold into the lobby that I felt hit by its opulence.
A marble lobby, chandeliers and intimate seating area welcomed me and I began to understand that despite its size and magnificence, this was a place that felt oddly homely too.
Despite its size, the hotel has retained its intimacy as it offers only 33 suites, with either rose garden or sea view.
There’s a selection of 6 rooms and 27 suites ranging from Classic Style room, Junior, Grande, Queen, Dome and Presidential Suites all in a variety of sizes; from 23sq m (Classic Room) all the way up to 138sq m (Presidential Suite).
Expect balconies or a huge veranda, walk-in closets, separate living spaces and bedrooms with Egyptian cotton sheets, separate bath and shower complimented with Bvlgari toiletries, and the usual free wi-fi, flat screen TV (sometimes two) and turn down service with chocolate on your pillow at night.
What I loved was that all suites were lushly carpeted. In a hot country such as Greece I’m used to wooden or tiled flooring, yet it was surprisingly welcoming to scrunch my toes into a plush carpet, another sign of opulence for me. And boy did I sleep well on my Queen bed with mattress topper, the sound of the waves lulling me to sleep.
If I’d wanted to, I could have had a massage, facial and hammam in their spa which offers any number of treatments, or a swim in the outdoor pool or relaxed on the beach, but as I visited in the autumn I was content to wander the grounds where I happened across their Amphitheatre–in the summer it hosts evening entertainment and is a popular place for wedding ceremonies.
There’s a selection of places to eat and relax during the day, from the Garden Café by the seafront, a great place to grab a beer or coffee then later on, enjoy a Mediterranean-inspired menu, the fine dining Rodon Place–more of a banquet style option for conferences and wedding receptions. La Rosa is the main restaurant with a buffet breakfast and sit-down meal for dinner.
Aside from the quality of food, I was blown away by the main feature here–a full wall feature of the Fresco of the Colours by Italian artist Alfro Basaldella, a 20th-century impressionist. It’s the first thing you notice when sitting down for breakfast or any meal, once again making the hotel stand out for its classiness.
I came away feeling thoroughly spoilt and relaxed. Professional yet friendly staff and the comfort of the suite made it difficult for me to leave.
All images (C) Hotel Grande Albergo Delle Rose.
Tell Me More About The Hotel Grande Albergo Delle Rose
Grande Albergo Delle Rose, Georgiou Papanikolaou 4, Rhodes 85131 Greece
T: +30 22410 57700 E: email@example.com
Rooms at Hotel Grande Albergo Delle Rose start at €127 per night depending on season (this is low season price)
Suites start at €184–€317 per night depending on season (this is low season price). These prices are for a Junior, Queen and King Suite category. They do not include the Dome Honeymoon or Presidential Suite that come in at roughly twice if not three times as much per night.
It’s easy to spend time in the Hotel Grande Albergo Delle Rose by its beach, making use of its facilities. But its closeness to the Old Town means I’d recommend spending a day or two exploring this unique medieval city too, knowing you are within walking distance to come back and relax in luxury.