Sunday, 1 June 2008

Cavalieri Hilton, Rome - Swimming in modern Rome

We really didn’t enjoy our stay in this over-priced, over-blown hotel (we were there for a conference).

Everything looks “luxurious” on the surface, and there is that level of obsequious service (every member of staff greets you EVERY time you walk down a corridor, even if only 5 seconds earlier!) that some people think is an expression of appropriate "I'm boss, you serve" relationships.

There are pool attendants in crisp white uniforms, and many of the guests have deep tans and lots of gold bling. Surface sophistication. They charge outrageous prices for everything - eg a hamburger is 25 Euro, a small coke 8 E.

There is “free” use of the hotel pool for guests (and it is a good pool, big enough for real exercise), BUT just try to sit anywhere, or even put your book and towel down, and you’ll be pounced upon and told you must pay a 16 Euro sun lounge fee. My son went down with his book and was disappointed he couldn't stay and had nowhere to put his things. (The next day we paid the 16E of course)

I fully understand that in some cultures you pay to get access to a beach and sun lounger, but when you are paying $600 a night for a room, you expect that you can effectively use the pool!

The opening hours are quite restrictive if you are there for work and want to exercise before or after the work day. It opens at 9am, so no before-breakfast laps, and although suppposedly open til 7pm, the pool attendants start packing up about 5.

Although swimming laps during opening hours, I was tapped on the hand and told I was swimming "contrary to regulations". I never found out which regulation, but assume it may have been because it was cloudy? Or perhaps because I put my towel down on a chair undercover? I said that if a manager cared to come and explain the regulation to me perhaps we would have something to discuss, but no-one appeared, of course.

The hotel allows locals to use the pool for about 45E a day on weekends. It's one of the few pools in Rome. We tried to find a pool to use during our stay elsewhere, but the only alternatives seemed to be a single public pool which hadn't opened yet (the seson began on June 1, and even though temperatures were in the high 20s, I was told it was "too cold" yet), or a 30E swim at another pool.

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