I’m always asked where I stay in Rome. Over the years I have made some excellent friendships so I usually stay with friends if they offer. If you don’t know anyone in the city (or even a short distance outside it), chances are you’re going to have to make do at a hotel or hostel, rent an apartment for your stay, find a bed and breakfast, or perhaps finding lodging in an agriturismo.
- Staying in a hotel
This is probably the easiest option. Hotels tend to be in the thick of everything and don’t require renting a car. Hotels often offer tourism services such as a tours of nearby monuments, shopping trips, as well as rides to and from the airports in Rome. Hotels tend to be very secure in Rome, but theft is known to happen as it can anywhere in the world. Don’t just stay in a hotel because you think it’s the safest option. Hotels in Rome tend to be expensive. The rooms are smaller. Air conditioning is not a guarantee. Some hotels have bathrooms which must be shared by the other guests on the floor. Always check with the hotel about the details – don’t leave it to the brochure or web site which can be vague. For a decent hotel in Rome, expect to pay between $100-300/night/room.
I don’t have a list of possible hotels ready yet. As I don’t stay in them often when I go to Rome, I’ve been having to rely on others. If you’ve stayed in a hotel in Rome that you liked, please leave a comment on my blog with some information on the hotel as well as your experiences there!
The hostel isn’t just for the young, and it is usually your most inexpensive option for lodging. Hostels in Rome cater to all kinds of people – young and old. Many hostels in Rome offer discount accommodation ($20-30/night), but this can range anywhere between a small room with just a bed to a cot in a dormitory. If you plan to be out and about all day (or night!) and have no plans to return to your room during the day, then the hostel is for you. Remember, for $20-30/night, you really do get what you pay for. Some hostels offer smaller rooms with hotel amenities. Always be sure to ask what is provided and what is not. Many hostels don’t want guests lingering in their rooms after 9:00am – some hostels may have specific times that you must vacate the premises so that the maids and housekeeping and do their cleaning. Every place is different so find out the rules and restrictions before you pay. If returning to your room to nap is a necessity for you, or perhaps you require a more secure premises, I would avoid the hostel. Hostels tend to be noisier as people are coming and going at all hours of the night.
Hostels are also the best option for impromptu trips and when you need last minute lodging.
- Rent an apartment
If I can’t stay with my friends in Rome, I usually will rent an apartment for my stay. Apartment rentals have more bang for your buck but are also harder to find. In my opinion, this alternative works best if you can speak some of the language since many owners do not speak English. Many Romans rent their unused apartments for tourists. There are a few good web sites out there (list will be forthcoming!).
If you decide you want to rent an apartment, shopping around is very important. Don’t just jump on the first deal you find. Chances are, there will be something cheaper. Expect to pay more for an apartment during peak times (summer, Christmas holidays, etc.). But during the low season, many apartment owners slash their rates to entice travelers.
Apartment rentals are ideal for long and short stays. Don’t be deterred if you only plan to be in Rome 3 or 4 nights. But many landlords have minimum stay requirements so always be sure you know what the requirements are before you agree to anything. Also, deposits are typically required to hold the apartment and can range from 10-50% of the total cost of your stay. CHECK AND MAKE SURE THAT YOUR DEPOSIT IS REFUNDABLE. A majority of apartment owners WILL NOT refund your deposit if you cancel your stay. When you pay a deposit, be sure to request a receipt. A receipt should outline whether the deposit is refundable or not. If if is not, make sure you get some trip cancellation insurance so that you can get your money back should you have to cancel at the last minute. Find out what is/is not included. Some landlords limit the amount of electricity, water, hot water, etc that you can use during your stay. If you go over, you’ll have to pay the difference. Are sheets/linen/towels included? Is there a washer in the apartment? Are you allowed to use it? Don’t assume that you are entitled to anything. ASK ASK ASK!
Many of you are probably thinking “I’ll never rent an apartment in Rome now” but please don’t be discouraged. I would suggest renting an apartment if:
- You plan to be in Rome longer than a week
- Have DEFINITE travel plans
- Need/want the added privacy and security of staying in an apartment
- Bed and Breakfast
Bed and breakfasts are a cross between a hotel and an apartment. These are plentiful in Rome (and Italy) and are also cheaper alternatives to the hotel. They tend to provide a room as well as a meal (usually breakfast). Like the hostel, you probably cannot hang around the room all day and are typically permitted only during the evening hours.
Forthcoming will be a list of bed and breakfasts in Rome.
The agriturismo is becoming a popular industry in Italy. In an article written by the Associated Press this year, agriturismi are a growing industry among Italian farmers who are trying desperately to make end meets. There are various kinds of agriturismo. They typically reside outside of the city and give you a chance to explore the countryside as well as escape the traffic, noise and pollution of the city — which really is the whole point of taking a vacation, isn’t it? :)
There are dozens of agriturismo outside and around Rome and give the traveler a chance to see a different side of Italian life – perhaps the more authentic side. Prices can be quite modest, if not cheaper than your stay in a hotel or apartment, and the agriturismo is not so far out from the city/airport that you can’t rent a car for the day and head into the city.
Your options for accommodation are endless. Be sure to choose the option that works best for you, and your situation!
NB: I get a lot of requests from people asking me for specific places to stay. I can only give suggestions. The reason for this is simple. The last time I told someone where to stay, they had a horrible time, and I’ve never heard the end of it. The moral of the story is this – If you want some advice or a suggestion or two, please email me, but unless I’ve personally stayed there, I can’t really say if it is a good place or not. And if I have stayed there…just because it I had a good time, doesn’t mean you will. Always treat recommendations as they are. The ultimate choice on where you stay and go is yours. :)