We often use Rome as our launching pad for long-distance flights to Asia. Many of the bigger airlines offer a variety of flight options starting or ending in Rome. As a result, prices are often cheaper than flying out from other European airports, since many Rome hotels & guesthouses can be booked at quite reasonable rates.
If you’re a food and culture buff, what better place to start or end a journey than Rome?
To keep costs to an acceptable level, we’re always on the lookout for a good, well-located hotel or guesthouse and reasonably-priced restaurants. Our budget for a Rome hotel is anything between €50 to €75 per night for a double room (including taxes, etc). If breakfast in included, so much the better.
For restaurants, we’re looking to pay the same: Somewhere between €50 to €75 for an evening meal for two including wine. For lunch, around €30 to €50.
This brings our daily budget to around €75 per person, excluding transfers, entrance fees and of course shopping. We are often pleasantly surprised at the excellent value and service we receive in Rome on this level of budget.
In this article, we start with a few Rome hotels & guesthouses we’ve visited. After that we take a look at some really excellent restaurants, and a few sightseeing activities that fit comfortably into a short 2 or 3-day break.
Rome Hotels & Guesthouses: The Lancelot – Colosseum Area
Everyone knows the Colosseum – possibly the most-visited monument in Rome. There are plenty of guesthouses and hotels within 5 minutes walk of this famous monument. The closer you get to the Colosseum, generally the higher the prices. However, there is a wealth of sightseeing in this area.
For a first trip to Rome, it’s worth paying that bit extra for the convenience of having it all on your doorstop. On subsequent trips, you can choose hotels further from the center, but closer to alternate sightseeing venues.
The Lancelot is no longer a particularly cheap hotel. I first visited it in 1980 when it was called Pensione Lancelot. At that time, I stayed there for around 2 weeks in high season and it didn’t break the bank. Over the years, prices have risen. Now, a 2-week stay in high season would cost a small fortune.
However, this hotel has lost none of its charm and character. Ideally located on the Via Capo d’Africa, within sight of the Colosseum, the Lancelot and their staff provide an excellent introduction to Rome.
The price we paid at the Hotel Lancelot was €460 for 4 nights for a double room with breakfast. Well over our budget, but good value for money for this charming hotel and the truly excellent breakfast (a sumptuous buffet including fresh salmon). Note that if you book many months in advance, you can get substantial reductions with delayed payment.
Immediately after booking online, we received an email from the hotel giving us useful information and directions.
Our room was well-heated (a requirement in November) with a comfortable bed.
At 7.30 pm they serve a three course evening meal around traditional round tables, where you can meet fellow travelers and experience the true convivial Lancelot spirit. The cost for the three course meal inclusive of wine and coffee is €25 per person all inclusive. They also offer a special Half Board package at a reduced rate of €18 per person per meal if you have dinner at least three times during your stay.
If required, they can arrange for a fully licensed pick-up service from the airport to the Lancelot for €50.
Antica Dimora Contessa Arrivabene – Vatican Area
If your interests in Rome are more centered on St Peter’s and the Vatican Museum, there are some reasonably-priced hotels within walking distance. A guesthouse well-worth visiting is an establishment rejoicing in the name of Antica Dimora Contessa Arrivabene.
This used to be a private villa. It must have seen some wild times in the 1920s, if the paintings in their sumptuously decadent rooms are anything to go by. Both the rooms and the paintings are huge, colorful and immaculately well maintained.
The house is located in a quiet area of Rome, 20 minutes walk from metro Cipro and 30 minutes walk from the Vatican. We took along a map to find the place, which is advisable since this house is tucked away in a sleepy, leafy suburb.
The house is imposing, surrounded by beautifully maintained gardens within secure walls. The gardens have a variety of trees, including lemon trees, and herbs and spices. If the weather is good, the extensive gardens are really worth visiting.
There are a small number of very large guestrooms, and a library on the ground floor. A grandiose staircase in the center of the house leads to the upper level guestrooms. Each guestroom has a unique character and layout. There is also a terrace on the roof for the use of guests. The roof terrace would be a very relaxing place to have breakfast, weather permitting.
The service at the Antica Dimora Contessa Arrivabene was excellent, as was the breakfast which was served in our room.
All this for €68 per night (including taxes).
When booking a Rome hotel, you need to take into account additional taxes which can inflate your final bill by anything up to 20%. However, if you book directly with this establishment, you may be able to get a discount.
Although the area is quite secluded, there is a nice little snack bar nearby on the main road that is open at lunchtime. Next to this, there’s also a Pizza restaurant that’s open in the evenings.
B&B La Rotella Nel Sacco – Termini Area
For easy access by bus or train to the airports, it can be useful to stay somewhere in the Termini Central Railway Station area.
Here, we weren’t so lucky when we booked the B&B La Rotella Nel Sacco.
The first of our many issues with this B&B was finding the place. We’re pretty good at reading maps, but in the end had to ask the local tobacconist for directions. He responded happily – as he clearly had done many times before – and directed us to an obscure doorway on the next street.
The B&B entrance hall is pleasant and clean. We were greeted by a smiling and animated hostess who enthusiastically explained the local transport options.
We were told there were 7 rooms, and were given a small room in the basement.
The room had a tiny ensuite bathroom. There was also a small empty fridge. On top of the fridge we found our breakfast for the following day. This comprised 3 or 4 plastic-wrapped cakes and croissants, 4 small wafer biscuits and 2 sachets of coffee, 1 tea-bag and no milk. There was a kettle to boil water, but no bottled water. We were told we could use tap water.
After our first night, we noticed a couple of extra plastic-wrapped croissants had been added to the pile, but nothing else. Part of the reason we chose this B&B was because the rate include ‘breakfast’. This is a long way from what I would call breakfast. We ended up buying our breakfasts in the local cafes instead.
There was a small TV in the room with several dozen Italian channels (and 1 in French). The double bed was 2 singles pushed together, covered with a sheet and blankets (no quilt). The mattress was thin and uncomfortable, with just 2 very small, thin cushions.
The only natural light
Wafer-thin mattress & pillows
60+ more channels like this...
All in all, we had the impression that everything at the B&B La Rotella Nel Sacco was done on the cheap, to really minimize costs, regardless of the inconvenience to guests.
Located in the basement, our room had almost no natural light. It was also noisy from the other rooms and the front door to the building. In the mornings we were woken by our hostess, again enthusiastically delivering the same extensive monologue to guests right outside the door to our tiny basement room. This area she uses as a ‘reception’.
The only positives we found about this guesthouse was a good shower with hot water, and it is handy for the train station.
Unfortunately this doesn’t make up for the other issues. Better to pay another 10 or 20 euros elsewhere for a proper room with a decent bed and breakfast. We paid a total €98 (low-season, tax included) for 2 uncomfortable nights.
Rome Hotels & Guesthouses – B&B Roma Insieme
More a guesthouse than a hotel, B&B Roma Insieme is located in a quiet area of Rome just south of the Vatican City.
The nearest metro station is Valle Aurolia. From the metro station, it is just a 15 minute walk to the Insieme guesthouse. We had been asked to send a text to the management 20 minutes before we were due to arrive, which we did.
Luckily, we had checked out the building on Google Earth, so we weren’t surprised that the place just looked like an ordinary apartment block. We arrived on time, and waited outside the locked gate for 10 minutes until the lady owner arrived.
The owner led us inside to our room through a succession of 3 locked doors. Inside, Insieme was clean, bright and modern. The 6 rooms are arranged around a common area where breakfast is served between 8:00 and 8:30 am. Breakfast comprised a selection of fresh croissants with tea or coffee.
Our room was bright and pleasant, with a comfortable bed and french doors leading onto a balcony.
As far as Rome hotels & guesthouses go, B&B Roma Insieme is good value at €46 per night for a double room, including taxes and breakfast.
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