Travellers keen to visit the Vatican may soon be able to stay just a stone’s throw from St Peter’s Basilica, but the new hotel plans have left some frustrated.
The Catholic Church’s Order of the Holy Sepulchre has signed a deal with Bill Gates, once the world’s-richest-man, allowing a Four Seasons hotel to open just metres from the historic religious site.
The new hotel will open on the renowned Via della Conciliazione, the road leading to the basilica.
Previously, the building was a family-run hotel – the decision to allow a multi-billion pound company to take over the space attracted considerable criticism throughout the deliberation process.
The Renaissance-building is owned by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, who operate across the Middle East and Cyprus.
Before making the decision, the owners elected an international commission to analyse the multiple offers they received for the space, in order to provide transparency and impartiality.
The contract is worth $52.4 million (£42.2million), and will last 27 years.
The new space will include a spa, gym and multiple restaurants, with catering by world-renowned chefs.
However, campaigners have taken issue with the luxury chain taking over a space just metres from where many homeless people take shelter for the night, in the shade of surrounding buildings.
They’re concerned those who frequent the area will no longer be welcome once the hotel opens its doors.
The Catholic Church says profits made from the deal will go towards projects in the Holy Lands.