Orient Express entrusts the interiors of its first hotel in Rome to architect and designer Hugo Toro

After joining forces to launch the Palazzo Donà Giovannelli hotel project in Venice, Orient Express and Arsenale SpA have come together again for the opening of the next Orient Express La Minerva Hotel in Rome, a prestigious address acquired by Arsenale in February 2022.

The hotel, which has just started its renovation, is a project rooted in the history of Rome. At the end of 2024, a new decor and interior inspired by the Roman domus and the riches of the “Eternal City” will be unveiled with a new touch of contemporary elegance.
Orient Express, craftsman of travel since 1883 and Accor brand, and the Italian group Arsenale SpA, experts in hotels and luxury hotels, entrusted the interior design and artistic direction of the hotel to the architect and designer Hugo Toro.


“Orient Express has found its ideal stopover in Rome,” says Hugo Toro, adding: “It is a symbolic city that arouses emotion and wonder in all who visit it. It is a magical place, imbued with traces of history and a rich palette of textures, materials and colors. All of this is in perfect harmony with the mysterious and traveler identity of Orient Express.

In his Walks in Rome, the architect travels to the heart of the historic center of the city, unearths treasures in bookstores, discovers the Pantheon, brings his notebooks and watercolors to the famous Place de la Minerva, whose name derives from the goddess craftsmen and eternal protector of Rome. He sketched the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and Bernini’s obelisk with its elephant high on the pedestal. He passed the Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva – the only Gothic church in Rome – then saw Michelangelo’s Pietà, all before stopping in front of the facade of the long-awaited Orient Express La Minerva.

“The old Palazzo Fonseca is a sumptuous 17th century palace, with an immense and majestic façade.” Toro explains, adding: “It is a heritage site still adorned with Roman columns, sculptures by Rinaldi Rinaldo, a disciple of Canova, and the fascinating Minerva. It is a secret place where you can reflect and admire the wonders of the dome of Sant’Ivo, the roof of the Quirinal Palace and the Pantheon from its panoramic terrace.”


Born on the Franco-German border to a Mexican mother and a French father, architect and designer Hugo Toro shares with Orient Express a love of culture, encounters and travel. He is the interior designer behind the creations of the Gigi restaurants in Paris, Val d’Isère and Ramatuelle, as well as exceptional apartments and Parisian mansions. Recently he ventured to London where he designed Booking Office 1869, the new 19th century ticket office restaurant at St Pancras Station, and last summer Hugo Toro designed the set design for the pop-up d ‘Orient Express at La Samaritaine in Paris. An obvious collaboration at the center of a space inspired by the world of the Orient Express, which presented the brand’s first collection of travel objects entitled Steam Dream, created in collaboration with 18 houses and craftsmen.

“We are thrilled to work with Hugo Toro to capture the timeless essence of the city of romance and legend within the Orient Express La Minerva. After making his first foray into the Orient Express designing our pop- up at La Samaritaine, this remarkable designer continues his journey with us in Rome.His passion for history, his sensitivity and his ability to elevate a historic environment with a new contemporaneity will help us create at Orient Express La Minerve one of most enchanting destinations in the world. says Stephen Alden, CEO of Raffles & Orient Express.

“The history of La Minerva will be revived in the hands of Hugo Toro, during this period of rebirth of the city of Rome. It is a chapter that is part of a dynamic global project for the tourism sector, linked to the launch of Orient Express La Dolce Vita trains, which will connect the country’s cities of art and culture with its small villages through an integrated ultra-luxury offer for travelers who choose to explore and discover Italy » , said Gilda Cotzias, head of real estate and construction at Arsenale SpA


Founded in 2020 by Annabel Holding and Paolo Barletta, Arsenale is an Italian company that continues to establish itself in the world of luxury hotels. Their main objective is the improvement of the Italian tourism sector, through two main divisions: Hospitality Hotel and Resort, focused on the development and management of hotel facilities in synergy with the most renowned luxury brands in the world, and Hospitality Travel Itinerary with Orient Express La Dolce Vita, the first sustainable rail tourism project in collaboration with Orient Express, Trenitalia-Gruppo Ferrovie dello Stato and Fondazione FS.


Accor is a world leader in the hotel industry with 5,300 establishments and 10,000 restaurants in 110 countries. The group has one of the most diverse and integrated hotel ecosystems in the industry, comprising more than 40 brands of luxury, premium, midscale and budget hotels, entertainment and nightlife venues, restaurants and bars, branded private residences, shared accommodation properties, concierge services, co-working spaces and more. Accor’s unparalleled position in lifestyle hospitality – one of the fastest growing categories in the industry – is led by Ennismore, a joint venture, of which Accor holds a majority stake. Ennismore is a creative hospitality company with a global collective of entrepreneurial, founder-driven brands with purpose at their heart. Accor has an unrivaled portfolio of distinctive brands and more than 230,000 employees worldwide. Members benefit from the company’s comprehensive loyalty program – ALL – Accor Live Limitless – a daily life companion that provides access to a wide variety of rewards, services and experiences. Through its global sustainability commitments (such as achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, global elimination of single-use plastics in its hotel guest experience, etc.), Accor Solidarity, RiiSE and ALL Heartist Fund initiatives, the Group focuses on driving positive action projects through business ethics, responsible tourism, environmental sustainability, community engagement, diversity and inclusiveness. Founded in 1967, Accor SA is headquartered in France and is listed on the Euronext Paris Stock Exchange (ISIN code: FR0000120404) and on the OTC market (Ticket: ACCYY) in the United States. For more information, visit group.accor.com or follow Accor on TwitterFacebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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