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Top bars in… Rome, Italy

Despite being full of tourists entranced by its historical buildings, Rome’s nightlife attracts the most discerning drinkers. By James Lawrence.

The Italian journalist Silvio Negro said it best: “Roma, non basta una vita,” which translates as “Rome, one lifetime is not enough”. The fabled Eternal City, blessed with an unparalleled historic and artistic legacy, scarcely needs a lengthy introduction and is surely high on all globetrotters’ bucket lists. Its religious buildings, awe-­inspiring Colosseum and delicious gelato draw millions every year, but Rome’s exciting and refined nightlife scene is almost never given a second thought – perhaps because exhausted tourists rarely have the energy for a night on the tiles.

However, with a little research it becomes obvious that Romans know how to party. For while Rome lacks the edge of Berlin or the dynamism of London, it has plenty of options to entice barflies. Whether you’re into the club, underground or reliably glamorous hotel-­bar scene, the city is guaranteed not to disappoint. Indeed, after a slow start, Rome now offers some of the best variety of nightlife in Italy: bars, clubs, cafés and pubs to suit all tastes and budgets.

Testaccio – a working­-class neighbourhood with a lot of local flair – is the place to avoid the masses, and is a mecca for nightclubs and alternative venues.

The Centro Storico, on the other hand, is where you head to for expensive cocktails and chic surroundings. Bohemians and the artsy crowd gather nightly at Freni e Frizioni in Trastevere.

Of course, much depends on the season. In the summer, you’re best advised to explore the city’s five­-star hotels and their stylish rooftop bars. What could be more evocative of the famed Italian notion of la dolce vita than sipping a delectable aperitivo under an open summer sky, reveling in the magic of Rome?

Click through the following pages to see our top bars in Rome, Italy. 

Freni e Frizioni

Via del Politeama, 4/6

This former mechanics’ shop feels more Shoreditch than Rome. A hipster’s paradise, Freni e Frizioni (which literally means ‘brakes and clutch’) is perhaps one of the most happening places in all of Trastevere.

Service is friendly, while the eclectic crowd of bohemians, locals, tourists and students appreciate the great Mojitos.

The American Bar at Hotel Forum

Via Tor de’ Conti, 25­30

Situated at the heart of Rome’s ancient centre, The American Bar at Hotel Forum has prime position for admiring the city’s incredible heritage while sipping cold Prosecco.

Both visitors and locals come for the amazing 360­-degree views of the Imperial Fora and across to the Piazza Venezia, but stay for the cocktails and delicious bar snacks.

Hotel Eden Fragrance Bar

Via Ludovisi, 49

Hotel Eden’s new Fragrance Bar, a unique immersive cocktail experience created in collaboration with fragrance company Campomarzio70, is a first for Rome.

Changing seasonally, the Fragrance Bar’s summer cocktails include: Il Sole In Una Stanza, a base of gin, dry Sherry and limoncello; and Primavera ad Amalfi, a concoction of vodka, Solerno liqueur, Aperol and cinnamon extract.

Hassler Bar

Piazza della Trinità dei Monti, 6

There is no better way to start an evening than sipping a cocktail at the gorgeous Hassler hotel, ideally situated at the top of the Spanish Steps.

The atmosphere at night is unbeatable and the service top-­notch. There may be more cutting-­edge mixology in Rome, but it would be hard to imagine a finer environment and atmosphere.

Whatever you fancy – morning coffee, a pre-­lunch aperitivo or an evening cocktail – you’re bound to fall in love with this little slice of heaven in Rome.

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