72. How the Other Half Lives

Or I should say, the other half of the top 1%.

The reason I ended up coming to Rome at an oddball time is that my daughter Maria, an editor and writer at Food and Wine magazine, was coming to check out the five-star Rome Cavalieri Hotel, and invited me to tag along.It turns out that the rich are not like you and me.

Prosecco on our balcony.

They stay on a floor with a lounge with round-the-clock food and drinks and staff poised to whisk away your cup or plate before you’ve even finished with it. They have soundproofed bathrooms, so you can flush in the middle of the night and not wake up your companion. By the elevators, they have cases with Rudolf Nureyev’s costumes from some of his notable roles. They have paintings from the 1700s and tapestries from long before that in the lobby, and original Warhols in some of the really high-end suites. You could swim indoors, outdoors, under a waterfall, in a whirlpool or cold plunge, with a hot tub or sauna afterwards, and you could use a fresh white bathroom after each of these.The staff are plentiful and flawless in carrying out their responsibilities. And because this is Italy, and not France, their attitude seems to be all about making everyone feel welcome and comfortable, even a frumpy senior citizen from America, for whom this is clearly not the typical level of accommodation. They didn’t even roll their eyes when I ordered one cappuccino and Pellegrino after another, just because I could.

So, what a treat! I wonder at what point, if any, you get used to it. I hear from Maria, who had a tour of the property, that the really high-end suites, for the Hollywood superstars and the heads of state, are bigger than our house, and contain priceless art and private rooftop gardens and swimming pools. These folks would clearly call our level of hotel accommodations roughing it.

The view from the breakfast room.

Much as I loved every minute of it, the sheer opulence, in light of the deprivations felt by much of the world, was nearly enough to turn one into a communist. Or at least a Bernie supporter.

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