Roman Holiday - part 1

The Ramblers had described the hotel as having ‘the most spectacular frontage’ of any hotel in their brochure.

I take issue with that statement. The Domus Sessoriana has the most spectacular frontage of any hotel. It’s actually a converted monastery, although most of the building is still used for worship. In fact the day before our arrival the Pope had attended a televised service there.

Hotel staff are employed – as waiters, receptionists, cleaners etc - but monks live and work in the remainder of the building. But that doesn’t detract from the hotel atmosphere, or the quality of the accommodation.

I’d paid extra for single occupancy and was allocated a spacious double-bedded room. Terracotta tiles, air-conditioning, wall safe, refrigerator (stocked with goodies including wine!), satellite TV and an ensuite shower with luxury pampering products meant my every need was catered for. Well, almost.

The security of the accommodation was paramount and entry to the various wings was via a credit card gizmo. I’m new to all that kind of stuff and once I’d opened my door, I flung the card on a table – not realising that unless inserted in the wall, my lights would suddenly go out. A few minutes later and they did just that.

Plunged into darkness in a beautiful but unfamiliar room I scrambled around. My suitcase was on the floor and the contents tipped out. I made my way to the door and opened it, relieved to find that only my room was in darkness.

I had no time to tidy the mess – Elsa had summoned her cubs to a roof-top briefing. I couldn’t be late.

What a spectacular spot. The views across the city were the stuff of dreams and beyond.

With our itinerary intact we were marched off into the night and to dinner. I’m a fussy eater but there was nothing to fuss over there. A plate of pasta in a rich sauce slid down my throat, hardly needing the bottle of Italy’s finest I was sharing with Jane.

But that was just the starter, next came the plate of roast pork and roasted potatoes. I was beaten. Until the pudding, of course.

Doesn’t it all sound so perfect? Unfortunately not all shared my experience of arriving in Rome. Jane had flown to Heathrow from Scotland and hadn’t seen her luggage since she had been north of the border.

I’d kept her company at the airport as the carousel confirmed her worst fears. She’d reminded me of a friend of mine, Fiona. I didn’t like to think of Fiona, or anyone else for that matter, being stranded at an airport without their luggage, so I offered my help. Officials promised her luggage would follow her to the hotel.

We returned from the restaurant to find it was still AWOL. I offered a clean tee-shirt and we went to my room to collect it. Unfortunately I’d forgotten about my hasty departure. As I switched on the lights (and then inserted the card in the wall), my jaw tripped over the carnage of my case – knickers, socks, tops, bottoms, tampons – it was all there. Still – at least I had a case to tip out. Poor Jane couldn’t be so fussy.