As any of you who have traveled with your children know, staying in hotels can be fraught with peril. Rooms that seemed large online can turn out to be mere closets. You might end up staying next to a college rugby team on spring break. You never know when a disaster like a broken pipe might require a room change. And your children are almost certainly going to wake up far earlier than they should, excited and eager to jump up and down on the sofa bed where you have stashed them.
But in spite of this, there is something magical and glamorous about hotels. They have elevators, views, shoe-polishing cloths, ice machines. Someone else makes the beds. And there is that endless supply of clean towels…
When I think back on the hotels we have stayed in with our children, my platonic experience has to have been the Hotel Lancelot in Rome. I would love this hotel even if I didn’t have my children with me, because it is truly charming; I have never stayed anywhere that combined elegance and warmth in quite the same way. But it also stands out because it was a great place to stay with a small child. In fact, it is very apt that the hotel is named after a knight in shining armor because the people who worked there were truly our saviors when it came to Tommy.
Matt’s sister Becky was staying with us during our time at the hotel. In the evening, she would put Tommy to sleep in a portable crib that occupied almost all of the available floor space in our room before retiring to her own room next door. We would return at midnight full of various delicacies: pepper spaghetti, beef rolled around sweet peas and covered with a spiced tomato sauce, veal stew, and of course, copious amounts of wine.
Each night we crawled as quietly and carefully as we could into bed, silently praying that perhaps this night would be different. And inevitably, Tommy woke around 4:30, popped up, and grabbed Matt’s toe, giggling and refusing to go back to sleep. Matt would stagger out of bed, somehow find clothes for himself, and descend to the lobby. After he and Tommy took a few tours around the sitting area, dining room, and bar, Michael, the Ethiopian man who worked the late (or was it early?) shift at the front desk, would smile with dazzling white teeth and swing Tommy into the air while Matt rested and nursed his head. A few hours later when the lovely Paola showed up for work, she would insist that it was her turn to play with Tommy. And so it was that petted and loved and full of homemade muesli from the breakfast room, we would embark on our day surprisingly refreshed for people who had gotten so little sleep.
And this hotel would be perfect even if the staff wasn’t so nice. It would be perfect if the guest rooms weren’t lovely and immaculate. It would be perfect it didn’t have a beautiful courtyard with mosaic benches where Tommy could drive his trucks. It would be perfect even if it didn’t serve a killer buffet breakfast that includes piles of fruit and meat and cheese arranged to look like a Dutch still life. It would be perfect even if it weren’t a five-minute cab ride from the train station. Why? Because it is two blocks from the Coliseum, and really, what more does one ever need than that? This picture was snapped on a perfect November day five years ago. I’m thinking I may have to call the Hotel Lancelot and see if they have available rooms.
For another take on Monday dreaming, please visit Wandermom’s post about Chile, where she and her family hope to start a round-the-world trip.