Rome hotels

By Lee Marshall, your Rome expert

I write for Conde Nast Traveller, Daily Telegraph, Departures, .... Read more
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#37/40
expert-rated hotels in Rome
Expert overall rating:4.2 (out of 5)

This family-run two-star near the station is clean, friendly and offers great value for money.

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Price from: £120
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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.

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Years of travel writing have given me a certain instinct for what works and what doesn’t. Though I like hotels that look good, looks are not enough to make my list: hotels that get it right usually do so, in my book, because they are welcoming, because they have a good vibe, because they’re located in a street where I’d live if I could afford it, because you don’t feel ripped off when you come to pay the bill.

I’ve tried to make the list varied. There are bright designer B&Bs and ritzy five-stars, places with 24-hour room service and others that provide little apart from the key. I make no apologies for slanting the list in favour of the more beautiful parts of Rome’s centro storico: the way I see it, if you’ve come all this way you want to feel you’re in Rome, not stuck out in an anonymous modern suburb or in transit-hub limbo. If there’s one thing this list is not, it’s perfect. So please do let me know if you’ve had a bad experience in one of my recommendations – or a good one, for that matter.

I do keep an eye on TripAdvisor ratings and comments – these are invaluable, especially for the insight they give into a hotel’s service, as experienced by dozens of users over several nights. But TripAdvisor has its limitations too – the main one being that it gives too much subjective information on hotels, and not enough context. Location, history, perhaps a sentence about the owners, if they have had interesting lives – I for one appreciate this when I’m hotel hunting as much as the strictly useful stuff – like free wifi or low-season discounts.

Simonseeks has given star ratings out of five for all accommodation recommendations. With hotels, these will tally with the hotel's official star rating where it exists. Where a hotel has no official star rating, and in the case of b & bs and hostels, the experts have made a judgment as to how many stars the accommodation deserves, in terms of comfort, level of facilities and so forth.

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