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.com, Homeaway.com, and vrbo.com, 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 its standard practice for them to collect 30% of the total rental amount upfront 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 emergency. Most apartments come with information sheets that list neighborhood shops and services.

Recommended Agencies
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Cross Pollinate
(www.cross-pollinate.com; 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 (www.gowithoh.com; tel. 800/567-2927 in the U.S.) is a hip rental agency that covers 12 European cities, Rome among them. Eats & Sheets (www.eatsandsheets.com; tel. 06-83515971) is a small boutique collective comprising a B&B and a handful of beautiful apartments near the tourist center. The plain-dealing staff of Cities Reference (www.citiesreference.com/en/rome; 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. Rental in Rome (www.rentalinrome.com; 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).

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Monasteries & Convents

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.

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.