Hotels in Rome’s centro storico are notoriously overpriced, and all too often the grand exteriors and lobbies of historic buildings give way to bland modern rooms. Our selections here made the cut because they offer unique experiences, highly personalized service, or extreme value—and in many cases all of the above.

Room rates vary wildly depending on the season, and last-minute deals are common. For example, a room at a hotel we classify as “expensive” might be had for as low as 99€ if said hotel has empty beds to fill. Always book directly with the hotel—you’ll usually get a better rate and the chance to build some rapport with reception staff.

Breakfast in all but the highest echelon of hotels is often a buffet with coffee, fruit, rolls, and cheese. It’s not always included in the rate, so check the reservation options carefully. If you are budgeting and breakfast is a payable extra, skip it and go to a nearby cafe-bar, where a caffè and cornetto (espresso and croissant) will likely be much cheaper.

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Most hotels are heated in the winter, but not all are air-conditioned in summer, which can be vitally important during a stifling July or August. Be sure to check before you book if it’s important to you.

Self-Catering Apartments

Rental apartments have some great virtues: They’re often cheaper than standard facilities, and they let you save money by preparing at least some of your own meals.

Nearly every vacation rental in Rome—and there are tens of thousands of them—is owned and maintained by a third party (that is, not the rental agency). That means that the decor and flavor of the apartments, even in the same price range and neighborhood, can vary widely. Every reputable agency, however, puts multiple photos of each property they handle on its website, so you’ll have a sense of what you’re getting into. The photos should be accompanied by a list of amenities. Goliath booking sites Airbnb, HomeAway, and Vrbo, platforms that allow individuals to rent their own apartments to guests, have thousands of listings in Rome. These will often be cheaper than apartments rented through local agencies, but they won’t be vetted, and sometimes you’re on your own if something goes wrong.

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If you decide to rent through one of the agencies below, know that it’s standard practice for them to collect 30% of the total rental amount up front to secure a booking. When you get to Rome and check in, the balance of your rental fee is often payable in cash only. Upon booking, the agency should provide you with detailed “check-in” procedures. Tip: Make sure you ask for a few numbers to call in case of an emergency. Otherwise, most apartments come with information sheets that list neighborhood shops and services. 

Recommended AgenciesCross Pollinate (tel. 06-99369799), a multi-destination agency with a roster of apartments and B&Bs in Rome, was created by the American owners of the Beehive Hotel in Rome. Each property is inspected before it gets listed. GowithOh (tel. 800/567-2927 in the U.S.) is a hip rental agency that covers 12 European cities, Rome among them. Eats & Sheets (tel. 06-83515971) is a small boutique collective comprising a B&B and a handful of beautiful apartments for rent near the Colosseum. Cities Reference (tel. 06-48903612) offers no-surprises property descriptions (with helpful and diplomatic tags like “better for young people”) and even includes the “eco-footprint” for each apartment. You can expect transparency and responsiveness from the plain-dealing staff. Rental in Rome (tel. 06-3220068) has an alluring website—with video clips of the apartments—and the widest selection of midrange and luxury apartments in the centro storico zone (there are less expensive ones, too). 

Monasteries & Convents

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Staying in a convent or a monastery can be a great bargain. But remember, these are religious houses, which means the decor is most often stark and the rules inflexible. Cohabitating is almost always frowned upon—though marriage licenses are rarely required—and unruly behavior is not tolerated (so, no staggering in after too much limoncello at dinner). Plus, there’s usually a curfew. Most rooms in convents and monasteries do not have private bathrooms, but ask when making your reservation in case some are available. However, if you’re planning a mellow, “contemplative” trip to Rome, and you can live with these parameters, convents and monasteries are an affordable and fascinating option. The place to start is www.monasterystays.com, which lays out all your monastic options for the Eternal City.

A Note on a Notte in Rome

The Rome City Council applies a sojourn tax of 3€ to 7€ (depending on hotel class) per person, per night. Many hotels will request this fee in cash upon check-in or check-out; this is perfectly normal. Children ages 10 and under are exempt.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.