Mamma Mia Rome hotels can be expensive! But having some knowledge of when to visit, where to stay and what to expect when you get there will help you make an informed decision on how much to spend and where.
Types of hotels in Rome
The Hotel Modigliani has three stars.
Hotel Star System
Like in many countries, hotels in Italy are ranked from 1-5 stars. But Italian rating system is set by the government—and rankings are based on a checklist of amenities which includes things like room size, lobby size, and even lobby location (like whether the lobby is on the ground floor of a building). What the ranking system doesn’t account for is charm or rustic character or historical features.
For this reason it’s uncommon to see small hotels in Rome's historic buildings with more than three stars. Many hotels with excellent amenities, great service and stacks of charm occupy old buildings that don’t allow for expansion. They can never raise their star rating (under the current system) even if they offer excellent accommodation beyond those with a higher ranking.
To be classified as a hotel in Italy, an establishment must fulfill some basic requirements: It must have at least seven rooms, sanitary amenities (i.e. bathroom with shower and toilet) should be available for every 10 beds, and there should be a communal area and a sink with hot and cold water in every room. Hostels and B&Bs have different requirements.
Another point: It's quite common to find a Roman building hosting as many as five small "hotels" (or “pensiones”) under one roof. This makes for some confusing entryways and lots of signs in the hallway. It's important to note that the "birds of a feather" maxim does not apply in Rome. Two pensions separated by only a floor and ceiling can be worlds apart in every way other than location.
So what does this mean for your Roman holiday? Don’t automatically assume that 1- and 2-star hotels in Rome are squalid. In fact, some really cute, atmospheric places in Rome recommended by EuroCheapo are 1 and 2 stars. Do some research and you might score some major bargains by booking at hotels with fewer stars.
Here's a quick overview of what you can expect to find from each class of hotel:
The one-star Hotel Boccaccio is a charmer.
Doubles €40 - €100
One-star hotels in Rome hotel will generally offer no frills, and the quality of such establishments varies wildly. Some are wonderful family-run charmers – others are much seedier and best avoiding.
Legally one-star hotels have few basic requirements. They must have a reception that is open at least 12 hours a day. Rooms need to be cleaned at least once a day and sheets must be changed once a week.
That’s about it. Don't expect many amenities, there probably will not be a TV or air-conditioning or an in-room bathroom. You’ll almost never get breakfast. These hotels are usually really small and occupy a part of a floor of a building. They don’t usually have communal areas either.
See our recommended one-star hotels in Rome.
The two-star Antico Borgo di Trastevere has a rustic charm.
Doubles €45 - €160
Two-star hotels in Rome also offer "no frills" accommodation. The difference is that two-star hotels must have an elevator if there is no ground-floor entrance; change of sheets at least twice a week. A two-star rating will likely mean slightly more space and a small in-room bathroom. Breakfast is not usually included in the room price—although it may be available for a cost. They will not have air-conditioning.
Surprisingly, there is often not much price difference between double rooms in one-star and double rooms in two-star hotels. So you might be better looking straight at two star hotels if the idea of one-star places freaks you out.
Antico Borgo di Trastevere is good example of a quality two-star in Rome. By virtue of its historic building, the Antico Borgo lacks the comforts you’ll get in other hotels—there is no elevator or communal area or soundproofing. But its exceptionally clean, in a great location and exudes rustic charm.
See our recommended two-star hotels in Rome.
The Hotel and Hostel des Artistes is both a three-star hotel and a hostel.
Doubles €70 - €200
Picking a three-star hotel in Rome is similar to participating in a hotel lucky-dip. The style and quality of establishments varies so wildly it can seem like there is no consistency to the star rating at all.
There are some basic requirements for three stars in Italy: they should have a bar service, receptionists should speak at least one foreign language; the reception should be open at least 16 hours a day; personnel should wear a uniform and a high percentage of the rooms should have a private bath. Internet access should also be provided, but not necessarily in-room wireless. A communal area (for breakfast) is almost always required for 3-star hotels, and breakfast is generally standard (although you may have to pay extra).
A three-star rating does not necessarily mean a hotel is a "quality" pick, as cleanliness, modernity and charm are not rated. A bad three-star will usually be a lot worse than a good two-star (and you’ll pay less at the two stars).
See our recommendations for great three-star hotels in Rome.
Four and five-star hotels
Doubles €200 ++
Four- and five-star hotels are the high end of the hotel scene–offering the most luxurious establishment with modern comforts not found in smaller hotels. Rooms are well-sized and include bathrooms, the reception will be open 24 hours a day, staff will be multilingual, air-conditioning and heating will be provided and sheet and towels will be changed daily.
Many other comforts are also offered - buffet breakfast, swimming pool, valet parking, spas, dry cleaning, in-room wireless and internet, cable TV and soundproofed rooms.
Expect to pay a lot for a 4-star hotel in the city centre, although they may almost affordable during the low season. Five-star hotels in Rome rarely are affordable and we have completely ignored them on EuroCheapo.
See our limited list of affordable four-star hotels in Rome.
The Daphne Inn Veneto is a classy guesthouse near the Spanish Steps.
B&B and guesthouses
Bed and breakfasts and guesthouses are generally privately owned houses with room for up to six people. They are not usually given a star rating in most Italian regions. Breakfast is almost always offered (although it may be pre-packed and rather uninspiring, due to Italian food hygiene laws).
B&Bs are considered the most charming type of accommodation—they're often located in cozy (read: small) buildings in historical or atmospheric neighborhoods. The owner or owners are usually around to help guests out and make their stay more comfortable.
On the flipside, B&Bs in Rome can be surprisingly expensive and lack amenities. For example, bathrooms are often shared and there is usually no "reception," per se (guests may be given keys to the building or be required to return by a certain time). But the upside is that these establishments usually offer a personal, "home away from home" experience in ambient surroundings that many travelers adore.
B&Bs and guesthouses may also have rules that don’t apply to bigger establishments, about noise levels or bringing guests into rooms.
Read our list of recommended B&Bs in Rome.
There is no shortage of youth hostels in Rome. These budget-oriented, sociable establishments where guests rent a bed in a dormitory (or small private rooms) are scattered around the historical centre and the neighboring suburbs. Bathrooms and other amenities such as lounges (and sometimes a kitchen) are shared by guests, and are especially popular with younger travelers keen to meet other travelers (some hostels even have age limits). Hostels often organize social gatherings (such as pub crawls) and a couple even have pizza nights.
There are good and bad hostels in Rome—and the good ones go bad quickly and the bad ones often improve. It’s always good to talk to fellow travelers and do your research when choosing where to stay.
See our recommended youth hostels in Rome.
Another option are single-sex establishments popular with solo travelers. A good example in Rome is La Foresteria Orsa Maggiore, a peaceful, female-only Trastevere abode housed in a stunning 17th-century structure was once a convent.
Read more articles from EuroCheapo about planning the perfect trip to Rome... for every budget!
• Rome hotel overview: What to expect in your room.
• When to visit Rome: High season, low season and shoulder season.
• Rome budget tips: Free sights, discounts and tourist passes... revealed!