Orient Express, the artisan of travel since 1883, in partnership with the Italian group Arsenale S.p.A., active in the luxury hotel business, chose Rome and the architect and designer Hugo Toro to sublimate the first Orient Express La Minerva hotel.
Orient Express, the legendary travel brand owned by the Accor group, and the Italian group Arsenale S.p.A., active in the luxury hotel business, have renewed their partnership.
After signing the Palazzo Donà Giovanelli hotel project in Venice, they are now partnering for the opening of the next Orient Express La Minerva hotel in Rome, a prestigious address acquired in February 2022 by Arsenale.
Orient Express and Arsenale S.p.A. are entrusting the furnishings and decor of the hotel to architect and designer Hugo Toro. The hotel, which has just begun its restructuring phase, wants to reflect a project rooted in the history of Rome. At the end of 2024, a new décor and interior inspired by the Roman domus and the riches of the “Eternal City” will be revealed with a new touch of contemporary elegance.
The choice of Rome and the famous hotel is part of Arsenale’s development strategy, which aims to enhance the value of Italian assets in the luxury sector, alongside the most important international brands, in order to create a new style of avant-garde hotel.
“Orient Express has found its ideal stopover in Rome. A pictorial city of light that moves as much as it amazes. A city with a magical atmosphere, marked by the scars of history and a rich palette of textures, materials and colors. All of this is in perfect harmony with the mysterious, traveling identity of the Orient Express. – Hugo Toro.
In his walks in Rome, the architect reached the heart of the historic center, crossed squares and secret courtyards, passed the Pantheon, and put down his notebooks and watercolors on the terrace of the famous Piazza de la Minerva, named after the goddess of artisans and eternal protector of Rome. In front of the Academy for the training of diplomats of the Holy See, he sketched the elephant-headed obelisk of the sculptor Bernini, reached the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva, the only one in Gothic style in Rome, saw the Christ signed by Michelangelo before stopping in front of the façade of the new Orient Express palace.
“The old Palazzo Fonseca is a sumptuous palace of the seventeenth century, with a huge and majestic facade, says Hugo Toro. A place of memory still dressed with its Roman columns, sculptures by Rinaldi Rinaldo, a disciple of Casanova, and the fascinating goddess Minerva. An address like a privilege where, from the panoramic terrace, you can contemplate wonders: the Sant’Ivo dome, the roof of the Quirinal, the Pantheon…”.
Hugo Toro on a journey
Born on the French-German border to a Mexican mother and a French father, architect and designer Hugo Toro shares with Orient Express his love of cultures, encounters and travel. Interior architect and designer of the Gigi restaurants (Paris, Val d’Isère, Ramatuelle), of apartment projects and Parisian private mansions, he recently ventured to London where he signed the design of the new restaurant of the famous Booking Office in St Pancras station. Last summer, Hugo Toro also designed the scenography of the Orient Express corner at the Samaritaine. “A collaboration like an evidence”, at the origin of a space inspired by the Orient Express universe and which exhibited the first collection of travel objects, Steam Dream, created in collaboration with 18 houses and talented designers.
“What a pleasure to collaborate with Hugo Toro who knows how to capture the timeless essence of the city of romance and the Orient Express legend La Minerva. After a first foray with Orient Express, on the occasion of his staging of the pop-up at La Samaritaine, this talented architect and designer continues his journey with us in Rome. His passion for history, his sensitivity and his ability to sublimate a historical place around a new contemporaneity will help make Orient Express La Minerva a wonderful destination.” – Stephen Alden, CEO Raffles & Orient Express
Gilda Cotzias, Real Estate and Construction Manager for Arsenale adds, “The history of a hotel like La Minerva will be revived by Hugo Toro, in a moment of general historical renaissance for the city of Rome itself, which will become the nerve center of luxury tourism. With this hotel, we are inaugurating the first chapter of a project that will unite, with the departure of Orient Express La Dolce Vita, the country and the cities of art with the small villages, thanks to an integrated and complete luxury offer for millions of travelers who, in the next 50 years, will choose Italy as their first destination.”