The Grand Hotel Rimini (Italy) is the only five star-hotel in town, at the sandy beach of the Adriatic. Renown for its elegance and classic style it will always be remembered for one of its most notable patrons: Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini.
The Grand is the only five-star hotel in the city, as well as the only hotel on the coast with its own private beach. Most popular during the summer season, the hotel was designed by the South American architect, Paolo Somazzi in the Italian Jugendstil, called Liberty style. It was inaugurated on July 1st 1908. It soon became the haunt of noble families of Europe. Monarchies had ten more years until the end of World War 1, the "great war", that would end it all for most of them, in 1918. The Habsburgs came, the Turkish court, and the "Kings of the stage", lead by tenor Enrico Caruso, the first superstar of opera in the world.
A serious fire destroyed the two decorative domes which adorned the roof in July 1920: the domes were never replaced. Before he found his own tragic end, Benito Mussolini is confirmed to have arrived by water airplane to spend a night with his lover at the Grand Hotel. Maybe that was the reason, why the hotel was badly damaged during World War 2. It was reconstructed in the 1950s, right in time to become home to Egypt's King Farouk, who is said to have been seen in the grand ball room with nothing else but a turban on his head.
In 1994 the Grand Hotel Rimini was recognised as a national monument and it is under the protection of the Superintendent of Fine Arts. Next to the Grand Hotel stands the Conference Centre, built in 1992 and equipped with state-of-the-art technological equipment. It is open all year long to host meetings and conferences at national and international level. This new conference centre eventually safeguarded the existence of the Grand Hotel. So did its famous international clientele, including guests such as the Japanese Crown Prince (today Emperor) Hirohito, US-minister of foreign affairs Henry Kissinger, rock legend Joe Cocker, the Dalai Lama, Demi Moore and skier Alberto Tomba. George Bush met Mikhail Gorbachew here an Lady Di - legend has it - spent nights on the phone with her lover Dodi before taking the servants stairs down to the pool in the morning for a relaxing swim.
After a series of management and owner changes including the the Jannotta family from Castione della Presolana-Bergamo and the Bernardi family from Rimini, the Grand Hotel has now been acquired by Antonio Batani, who had bought it for €64m (US$ 101m) in December 2007.
The atmosphere at the Grand Hotel is unique. Regulars are pampered season by season. Maitre d'hôtel Matteo De Maio even keeps records of the birthdays of the dogs of his patrons. On that day the four-legged friends receive an extra portion of dog biscuits while Maio bows to the dog's master, explaining: "it's your dog's birthday, Sir."
With rooms decorated with Venetian and French antiques of the XVIII century, its original wooden floor (parquet) and Venetian chandeliers restored to its former grandeur, the restaurant and banqueting rooms, its furniture, paintings and the lights, it bear witness to one of the great sons of the city of Rimini: Federico Fellini.
The great Italian filmmaker grew up in Rimini. As a poor child, he often looked through the gates of the hotel in awe, dreaming of a life of luxury like the hotel's guests. These childhood memories inspired some of his most successful films. The Grand Hotel is featured particularly in his film Amarcord, where it is in the background of some of the film's most memorable scenes.
Fellini himself loved to be a guest at the Grand Hotel once he was successful, and stayed in his favourite suite 315 on a regular basis. Today you can request to stay in that room, American tourists pay US$1,000 and more per night to get that special kick. It was actually in this room, while talking on the phone, where he had the collapse that ultimately led to his death. The friend he was talking to on the phone was confronted with a sudden silence from the other end, and called the Grand Hotel back immediately to ask them to check to see if Fellini was all right. They found him lying on the floor, and he was rushed to hospital. He later died in Rome.
"My big goal is to bring back the two distinctive domes of the original building!" promises owner Antonio Batani.