Choosing a hotel in Rome, Part I

Hotels, Things to Do, Travel Tips, What's New — By Erica Firpo on May 3, 2010 at 11:09 pm

It’s not easy to choose a hotel in Rome, a city rich in every kind of lodging possible from hostels, convents and bed & breakfasts to luxury hotels and one-of-a-kind boutique apartments. To help you in your hotel search, you must follow identify what you like and where you want to be.

First and foremost, you need to identify what kind of lodging you like .  Ask yourself the following questions: do like you laid back living or over the top opulence? Is maid service a must have or would you prefer making your own coffee in the morning? Do you want a view? Do you want a terrace? Is all you need a place to rest your head? Do you need television, internet, wifi? Could you see yourself staying in a convent—even if it’s luxe?  Think about it– this is where you will hang your clothes, wash your face and sleep for the next few days.  It’s important to assume that Rome is light years behind your local Marriot and smaller, but far prettier and more refined.

Though Rome is a large city, most prefer to stay in the small historic center and surrounding neighborhood areas. The area within the city walls, the 3rd century Aurelian walls that border the older part of Rome, has been Rome’s preferred local for centuries.  To the present day visitor, this area is the most logical– all monuments are close by, public transportation is easy and walking home is possible. The top three areas are  Centro Storico, Trastevere/Testaccio and Vatican City/Borgo and tend to be the main areas on a typical hotel map.

Centro Storico, as per NileGuide, includes several coveted neighborhoods from the posh and pricey Piazza del Popolo and Piazza di Spagna, to the noisy Campo dei Fiori and the picturesque Piazza Navona.  All of these mini-areas can boast Rome’s best shopping and restaurants.  Turn any corner and its a snapshot moment.  Microcosm Monti is nestled in the area just above the Roman Forum, a favorite for its local flavor and proximity to all things ancient.  Celio, behind the Colosseum, is a quiet neighborhood close to two wonderful parks (hint: families). The Ghetto, along the Tiber river and next to Piazza Venezia, is another local favorite.  The Ghetto has restaurants and some shopping, but more importantly beautiful medieval buildings and a tranquille atmosphere

The Borgo is the medieval neighborhood in front of Vatican City, and has quaint hotels but limited dining and shopping options. It is easily accessible to the rest of the city as it is just across the river from the Centro Storico and down the street from Trastevere, an old Roman neighborhood congested with tourists. Trastevere has an old-fashioned flair, and some of Rome’s more picturesque buildings, so if you can survive the tourists (just like the Centro Storico), this is the place for you. Just above Trastevere is the Gianicolo (Janiculum hill), a quiet area with spectacular views of the city but horrific public transportation access. Across the river from Trastevere is Testaccio, a working class neighborhood and up-and-coming area. The majority of Rome’s nightlife centers around its main strip, via Galvani, so Friday and Saturday nights can be congested.

Photo by Melissa Bel

Tags: Hotels, Travel Tips