Italy is opening up and throngs of tourists are heading there. Many to Rome and experience one of the most incredible cities in all of human history. But where should you stay? How do you plan on seeing all that Rome has to offer. The first piece of advice is that you will not see everything on one trip. Kati and I have been there numerous times and still discover new and exciting places to go. Our second piece of advice is that the people and food are as important in this city as the monuments. Watching a football (soccer) game with a bunch of Romans or having a gelato while sitting on the Spanish Steps is what every holiday should be. Great people. Great food. In a great city.
Rome is the home of the Seven Hills, the Dolce Vita, and the Vatican. And for a while at least, it can be your home too. Rome is one of the world’s biggest tourist destinations and for a city that is almost entirely made up of a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is easy to see why so many people come to Rome. Rome is the ancient heart of the Roman Empire and with its old history, much of which is still intact and adds to the city’s indistinguishable charm. With an influence spanning over 2800 years of history, modern Rome is an eclectic mix of cosmopolitan living set against a backdrop of one of the western civilization’s greatest cities.
Staying in a major tourist hub like Rome offers a vast array of accommodations to choose from so knowing what to look for ahead of time can make or break a great Roman holiday. The Termini railway station has plenty of hotel options and you’ll be near public transport, which is nice but these hotels are frequented by tourist groups. For first-time visitors to the city, staying downtown is your best bet because many of the city’s biggest attractions are within walking distance, though be prepared to pay a bit more for the convenience. Meanwhile, frequent visitors to the city might already have a favorite place to stay. On the opposite side of Termini are smaller, quieter, and fairly inexpensive hotels, but naturally, if you’re looking to splurge there’s plenty of that too.
The Bee Hive: Topping the list consistently as one of the best hostels in Rome, The Bee Hive is a favorite place for many who find themselves coming back again and again. Located near public transport links such as the metro and the train station, The Bee Hive caters to a more mature crowd and leans more on a relaxing and chill atmosphere. If you’re solo traveling through Rome, this spot is a great option as there is a strong communal vibe here along with plenty of opportunities to meet other travelers. The hostel offers cooking classes on-site, as well as a communal garden courtyard, and organic café. Fresh produce is delivered every day and sourced locally so the breakfast options and snacks are all fresh and healthy. The Bee Hive offers female-only accommodations and guests should note that it really isn’t a party hotel so you’ll never really have to stress about too much noise or raucousness.
Legends: One of the most affordable spots in Rome is also one of the best for those looking to see the city on the cheap. Legends has all the makings of a typical hostel but adds in a few cool perks along with it. Guests here will get a free daily breakfast, free WiFi access, and there is no curfew or lockout, so if you’re a night owl looking to stay up all night, you’ll feel right at home here.
Camping Tiber: For a more unique place to stay, camp on the banks of the legendary Tiber River. Camping Tiber offers the best of both a cheap place to stay and camp along with being near public transport so everything the city has to offer is a short metro ride away. There are different styles of accommodation available such as RVs with a kitchen, twin bedrooms, or tents, all of which will be provided before you show up so you don’t need to bring your camping gear. What makes Camping Tiber stand out is the amenities on-site which include a private bar, swimming pool, and free WiFi.
The YellowSquare: If happy hour doesn’t end then neither does the party. The YellowSquare is the party spot in Rome and as such leans more on the younger crowd. With nine-hour-long happy hours, beer pong tournaments, and nightly DJs, the party at The YellowSquare practically never stops. However, if you are looking to relax (and maybe sleep off a hangover) the hostel offers spacious private rooms with en-suite bathrooms, air-conditioned dorms, and daily breakfast for about 3$USD.
Generator Rome: Located a short ten minutes away from the Termini rail station, Generator Rome is more affordable than it has any right to be. Walking in, you’ll notice it right away with the tiled floor lobby, leather sofas, Chinese lanterns, and carved wooden bar with green stools. The hotel is oozing with cool and the clientele here is a mix of young travelers, and businessmen. For 40 Euros a night, the hotel offers private guest suites with en-suite bathrooms and showers, a work desk, and plenty of space to store your things.
Hotel Maalot: Located in the heart of the historic district and just outside the Trevi fountain, you’ll be near all the points of interest while you stay at Hotel Maalot. But just because you’re in the heart of the city, doesn’t mean you can sit back and relax a bit. That’s where Hotel Maalot shines. Drawing in a younger sophisticated crowd the hotel offers rooms that are each individually designed and outfitted with unique artwork and furniture. The restaurant and lobby area is where the hotel’s sense of style really stands out with low ceiling fans overhanging tiled tables and emerald-green sofas. Along the walls, you’ll find contemporary American artwork sitting alongside 14th-century frescoes above zebra-print chairs.
- K. Place Roma: You don’t have to be a star to get the star treatment. At J. K. Place Roma everyone is a celebrity. The hotel is stylish leaning on classical-Italian-meets-contemporary style with white marble sculptures, tiled floors, bronze lamps, and chic furniture. Guest rooms include spacious workstations with polished mahogany desks, thick cream-colored curtains, a walk-in wardrobe so big it can be its own room, and a private balcony. Bathrooms are decked out in marble and include waterfall showers. But the experience doesn’t stop there, head down to the J.K Lounge Café and enjoy a breakfast of fresh fruit or an evening snack of truffle fries and a glass of wine.
Gran Meliá Villa Agrippina: In a city like Rome that is often dense with tourists, Gran Meliá Villa Agrippina is the oasis in the chaotic hustle and bustle. Summer in Rome is a beautiful time of the year but it can get pretty hot, luckily the Gran Meliá Villa Agrippina is there to keep you cool and refreshed. An olive-tree-lined driveway stretches past manicured gardens towards the pink palazzo where you’ll find the hotel. Premium rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows, entertainment hubs complete with large screen TV and iPod dock as well as elegant bathrooms with either deep soaking tub or rainfall shower. Lounge by the outdoor pool and soak up the sun or relax with a private massage. Gran Meliá Villa Agrippina offers a resort-style experience right in the heart of the city.
DoubleTree by Hilton Rome Monti: Feel like you’re staying somewhere upscale without paying the upscale price! The DoubleTree by Hilton Rome Monti has created a beautiful space right outside of the Villa Borghese that has employed local artists and designers to create a hotel that truly reflects modern Rome. The polished wood floors, elegant green velvet sofas, and large windows make the space feel like a boutique hotel while the rooftop terrace is covered with potted palms and canopies for shade. Grab a drink at the rooftop bar in the evening followed by a dinner at Mamalia which serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and has a host of delicious pastries to try.
Palazzo Manfredi: The property where this hotel now stands began its life in the 17th century. Designed as a palatial villa, in 1748 it was then redesigned into a hunting lodge for the noble Guidi family. In 2002 the property was purchased by an Italian Count and turned into a five-star hotel. Not only does the hotel radiate with opulence but it is basically a historic site in itself. Murano-glass chandeliers hang in the lobby while 16th-century artwork adorns the walls. Silver-lined picture frames fill the space with priceless artwork while leather chesterfield armchairs sit next to glass cases displaying diamond-encrusted jewelry (which is available to purchase, by the way). Sitting right next to the Colosseum, archaeological excavations were done and a formerly secret underground passage was discovered leading from the hotel’s basement to the Colosseum.
But what about the hotel itself? Well, the Palazzo Manfredi will have fans of old-school luxury feeling great. Warm accented rooms lead to designer bathrooms equipped with spacious walk-in showers, marble sinks and some even include a private hot tub and sauna. Rest your head at night on a pillow of your choosing from the pillow menu and stare out onto the Colosseum just a stone’s throw away. For the foodies out there, the rooftop Michelin-star restaurant is worth it just for the unobstructed views of the Colosseum across the street.
Rocco Forte House: Located overlooking the Piazza di Spagna, staying at the Rocco Forte House is less like staying in a hotel and more like staying as a guest of some rich nobleman. Built inside an 18th-century palazzo, the Rocco Forte House consists of five apartments, a communal rooftop pool, free WiFi, and a best of all a chef and sommelier on speed-dial.
Because of the small number of available rooms here, it should come as no surprise that getting a spot here is an exclusive endeavor, and celebrities, film stars, and musicians tend to book these apartments. Check-in here is smooth and discrete and the manager is ready on-site to give you all the details you need to know about what’s happening in the city. The apartments themselves are designed with bold antiques and opulent furnishings. A living room, two bedrooms, and a kitchen is included as well. Since there is no restaurant, simply call up the private chef to cook you dinner while you wine and dine in your private dining area.
The St. Regis Rome: All over the world the St. Regis name is known for its style and luxury. After attending the opening of the Ritz Hotel in London, the then president of Italy wanted something similar in his country. In 1894, the hotel had its grand opening featuring guests such as Kaiser Wilhelm II, King Umberto I, and Pope Leo XIII. All rooms featured electric lighting, private bathrooms, and the hotel was one of the first to feature elevators, one of which is still even in use.
In the modern era, the hotel continues to wow everyone who visits and also continues to bring in notable guests such as actors like Brad Pitt and George Clooney, writers like Leo Tolstoy, and heads of state like Queen Elizabeth, and Princess Grace of Monaco. Walking in, you’ll need a moment to take in the grand and expansive lobby with its shimmering floor, gold trimmings, pristine walls, and massive glass dome ceiling. If you’re looking to explore the ground make sure to pass through the library and admire the pastel walls, red velvet couches, and sculptures. Finally, when you get to your room the grandeur continues. Rooms are decked out in powder blue hues and terracotta reds. Resorted Venetian chandeliers hang above hand-engraved mirrors, and contemporary artwork along the walls adds a bit of unique flair to the space. Meanwhile, the bathrooms are just as big as you’d expect with luxurious black marble tubs and designer-brand toiletries.
Our Final Word
Is Rome touristy? You bet. Does it become overcrowded? Absolutely. Is it a place you should go to? Yes, yes and yes. Get off the beaten path and discover your own Rome. This is a city that is thousands of years old and there is something to see on every corner and in every nook and cranny. Find out where the locals go to eat (ask your hotel or someone working in your hotel), and head there. Skip any place that has a tourist menu. Head to the monuments before or after the bus loads of people are there. Take the city at your own pace and you will start to live la dolce vita.