Where to stay: Rome, Italy

Posted on September 3, 2012

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We will soon be travelling to Rome.

Fontana di Trevi

When I started looking at accommodation it was totally overwhelming.

There are thousands of hotels in Rome. But where to start?

Open google maps and type in “Rome accommodation” and the red dots marking the hotels overwhelm the map.

The old standby Trip Advisor has over a thousand hotels listed.

Plus we have the added issue of needing a room that can accommodate 4.

The more I trawled the internet the less appealing it seemed to have all of us holed up in one small hotel room for six nights.

So I decided I needed to shift my focus.

In Italy there are other alternatives to hotels, such as B & Bs, pensiones (small hotels, often family run) or apartments. During the course of my research I read that there is actually a glut of apartments available for short term rental in Rome, as property owners saw the value in renting apartments to the many religious pilgrims coming to the city.

So we have decided to rent an apartment.

A few steps to narrow down the search included:

1. Location, location, location

My husband’s favourite architectural masterpiece in all the world is The Pantheon. So that became my focal point. And being near the Pantheon would mean we would also be walking distance to all the sights of the Centro Storico (historic centre) like Piazza Navona, Campo di Fiori, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Roman Forum, Coliseum.

2. Know what you want from your accommodation

If you need the security and comfort of a hotel with breakfast provided, room service, daily housekeeping and concierge there are so many hotels in Rome that there will certainly be something to suit your needs and budget. Some hotels in Italy may have a dependence attached. A dependence could be apartments or larger rooms or suites. If you prefer something a bit more quirky or in a trendy neighbourhood then a B & B or pensione might work. If you are a group or a family the space of an apartment could be just the thing. (Plus you get to live like a local, shopping at the market & cooking at home.)

3. Peace of Mind

It’s such a leap of faith. Landing in a foreign city and trusting that the accommodation you have booked is going to be OK.

For hotels there are lots of reputable booking agencies. And there are also a number of agencies that deal exclusively in apartment rentals. I checked out lots of them and also cross referenced their services by reading reviews on a number of different websites. I don’t take the opinion of one unhappy customer, I try to find a broader range of experiences. It seems pretty obvious if you have the time to search which agencies offer good service and those who fall short.

Eventually the apartment we chose I have booked directly through the owner. She owns a number of properties in Rome which are listed on a few websites. The properties all have good reviews from guests from all over the world. Our email correspondence has been efficient and friendly. But the best thing is she only wanted a small deposit with the balance paid on arrival. If someone asks for all the money up front then that can be a bit unnerving. What if they take the money and run?! Anyway once we have stayed in our Roman residence I will report back how it went.

4. Do your homework

I always cross check accommodation across a number of different sources for reviews and feedback and handy tips. Don’t just take the word of one source, find as many as you can. I usually start with Trip Advisor then back up with other websites such as Lonely Planet, Time Out, Rough Guide, Frommer’s or Fodor’s. Slow Travel Italy also has some good information. These resourceful websites can also be useful for finding city guides, maps, restaurants, cultural sights, opening hours.

City Guides in the major national and international newspapers are also a great source of information. The Guardian UK has lots of fabulous “10 Best” articles.

5. It’s all part of the adventure

If things don’t go according to plan… Go to Plan B! Sometimes we’ve arrived at a hotel and it has been so wrong. After a little tantrum (by me) and weighing up the options (say we’ve prepaid & can’t leave without losing our money) we might stay for one night then find a better option for the following night/s. At the end of the day where a crappy hotel might make a great dinner party story, the fantastic hotels I will remember forever.

Travel Notes:

A website where bookings are made directly with the owners is VRBO.com

Apartment rental agencies that get good reviews include:

airbnb.com

crosspollentate.com

Rome City Guides:

Sydney Morning Herald

Guardian UK

Telegraph UK

Personally, I like to book direct with a hotel (they will nearly always match online prices) but some hotel booking agencies that get the thumbs up include:

Booking.com

Hotel.com

wotif.com

Posted in: Italy