There’s nothing quite like waking up in the centre of Rome, throwing open the shutters and watching a Baroque piazza come to life; or sipping an aperitivo in the evening on a romantic terrace, watching the sun set over the Eternal City’s ageless roofs and cupolas.
But you do have to pay for the privilege: Rome’s average hotel room rates are among the highest in Europe, with very little available for less than €100 a night. A dip in demand caused by the financial crisis has helped to lower prices a little, but only away from high season – which in Rome essentially covers the whole extended summer from mid-March to early November, with the exception of August, when there is little or no business trade, and many tourists stay away because it’s too hot.
Three golden rules if you're looking for bargains
So if you’re looking for bargains, there are three golden rules: first, consider a winter break (though be aware that there is a mini high season around Christmas and New Year) or an August visit; second, shop around and keep an eye out for special offers; third, don’t be afraid to bargain, either by email or over the phone. Rome accommodation is not the seller’s market it once was, and most hoteliers are prepared to knock something off in order to secure your custom – especially for stays of three nights or more.
Things to consider before booking
Rome now has a swathe of what you might call ‘boutique B&Bs’- charming boltholes of often six rooms or less, sometimes on the higher floors of centro storico apartment blocks. These can be lovely, intimate places to stay if you don’t need 24 hour room service and other such perks, but don’t expect them always to cost less than proper hotels: with so few rooms they have less pricing flexibility, and away from peak periods you’ll sometimes, paradoxically, find better last-minute rates at four- or even five-star establishments that have a lot of rooms to sell.
Finally, think carefully about where you want to be based. The area around Termini station is handy if you’re using the train to get in or out of town, but it can be a little soulless by day and seedy at night. It’s not nearly as characterful or romantic as the centro storico proper – in other words, the area that takes in Via del Corso, the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Campo de’ Fiori, the Borgo enclave in front of St Peter’s,the Aventine hill and Trastevere. It may take a little longer to get to or from that train – but unless you’re in a rush or don’t want to shell out for the taxi fare, the extra distance and effort is well worth it.