Best area to stay in Rome
Make an informed choice where to choose your hotel accommodation in Rome
On this page we make an attempt so the first time visitor to Rome can make an informed choice of the best area to stay in Rome. There are literally hundreds of hotel accommodation options in Rome, each one of them meeting the needs of a particular market.
There is no universal “best” hotel or “best” district to stay in Rome, there are better districts than others for your own individual preferences and budget.
Want a benchmark hotel district to beat? - It has to be around Termini Station
In terms of numbers, the largest accommodation district is around Termini Station, just to the south of the ancient city centre.
Termini Station is the main transport hub in Rome City Centre. The two metro lines intersect here and the main central bus station is in front of the terminus.
Termini is also the terminus of most long distance trains out of Rome on the Italian rail network. Trains to Fiumicino airport and the cruise port Civitavecchia also run from the station and the airport buses to Ciampino and Fiumicino terminate here.
In short, unless you use a taxi or are on a tour bus, Termini Station is likely to be your gateway to Rome. As the main transport hub, if you are independently minded you will probably pass through Termini on a daily basis wherever you stay.
In terms of logistics, ease of visiting Rome's main sights and transfers to the airports, cruise ports and inter-city trains, Termini is the best hotel district to base yourself in Rome.
The station is quite a modern affair with lots of shops, travel agencies, fast food, even a supermarket on several levels.
Types of Rome hotels
Rome hotel districts
Major hotel chains In Rome
Rome hotel types
Termini is the public transport hub for Central Rome. From Termini it is possible to go direct by the limited Rome Metro service to the Colosseum, Spanish Steps and Vatican. The dense network of buses will take you everywhere else.
Termini is also the main start point for the multitude of Rome Hop on Hop Off sightseeing buses.
Termini Station Rome
Accommodation here spans all the hotel sectors from hostels through to luxury hotels. On the east and west sides of the station are a myriad of tight streets on a grid pattern, crammed with hotels and restaurants of all types.
It is a bustling place with lots of people going about their business at all times; typical of areas around a cities main railway station everywhere.
Partly because of the number of hotels in the immediate vicinity, room rates are very competitive. If value for money is at or near the top of your priority list, the Termini hotel district is again a benchmark to beat.
The budget accommodation as a broad guide resides down each side of the station. Out the front of Termini Station past the bus station towards Piazza Repubblica things are more spread out and there is a more upmarket, elegant feel. Here is where a lot of the four star hotels are found.
Want a familiar branded hotel chain you have heard of?
In the centre of Rome there are very few large chain hotels with familiar brand names, nor large modern towers.
At present the only global chain with a relatively large presence in most districts is the Best Western Hotels franchise. Best Western hotels are independently run and use the Best Western franchise name for marketing and sales and some global parameters like free wi-fi.
Do not count on the Best Western hotel in Rome being similar to the one you know back home.
Chains like Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Holiday inn, Hilton and Marriott have most of their sites well outside the city centre near the orbital ring road. Sightseeing from these locations can be very tedious.
Several of the chains like Marriott and Sofitel do have a city centre location site but a trophy hotel in the exclusive Via Veneto district, beyond most people's budget.
There are also at present no low cost budget chain hotels in the centre.
The odds are, that if you are going to stay in the centre of Rome where the sights are, you will stay in an independent hotel in an oldish building perhaps smaller in terms of number of rooms than if you are used to staying in chain hotels.
Is there a “downtown area” I can walk to all the sights from?
Hop On Hop Off
The main area where leisure visitors spend nearly all their times is quite compact, but there is no downtown area in the North American sense. You will spend a big proportion of your time on your feet to get around. Walking is also the best way to visit and experience the best of Rome.
In terms of sights the central area is the ancient city, just south of the River Tiber. This where you find the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and Spanish Steps. It is a maze of narrow streets with just a few arteries where dual lane traffic and buses can travel. There are very few hotels in this area, the hotels that are there tend to be small, boutique style hotels. We do have a page highlighting a short list of hotel accommodation in the ancient city of Rome.
On the other North side of the River Tiber and the ancient city is Vatican City, and adjacent to it the Prati hotel district in a middle class neighbourhood. This is great for the Vatican and a 10/15 minute walk to the ancient city. The Colosseum and Roman Forum are the other side of the ancient city from the Vatican, as is Termini Station, the main transport hub which for most people is too far to walk.
South of the ancient city is the Colosseum and Roman Forum. There is a hotel district around the Colosseum that stretches about 1 km from the Colosseum to Termini Station. The ancient traditional Rione Monti district around Cavour Metro station is a gem of a district for those seeking an 'authentic' Italian neighbourhood experience.
Staying in this area is the opposite of staying around the Vatican in terms of logistics, the Vatican is too far to walk for most, but you have Termini Station adjacent very close.
Just to the east of ancient city is the Via Veneto which climbs out from the ancient city to Villa Borghese, Rome's largest park by far. This Via Veneto hotel district is Rome's most exclusive and where you find most of Rome's most expensive hotels.
As said at the top of the page the largest hotel district is the Termini Station hotel district. Although there are no A list, not to be missed attractions around the station itself, all public transport fans out from here and you can get where you want to go quickly and cheaply using Rome's excellent cheap but crowded bus and Metro network. Termini Station is also where all of Rome's hop on, hop off sightseeing buses set out from.
Room rates & seasons
Room rates are highly volatile in Rome, dependant on the season.
The peak season for room rates shoulder the height of the summer in late July and August, so the peak rates are late May, June, early July, September and October. At this time room rates can be double or more than in the winter months. Trying to find a family room at the peak times is problematic, unless you book well in advance at these times.
The month of May and April (outside Easter) can be a good time to visit with reasonable room rates and comfortable temperatures. The end of the year can be very wet and the height of summer too hot to sightsee in comfort.
Inner suburb hotels - a value for money solution
You do pay a premium for staying in the centre of the city of Rome, especially so at the busier times of year.
The solution for many is to stay outside the city centre.
Unfortunately many of the 'resort hotels' with well known brands are in isolated locations. You end up planning your day around restricted hotel shuttles or paying a lot out on taxi fares. Unless you can get a hotel near a Metro station or suburban railway station, the transfer into the city can be time consuming and stressful or expensive, local buses can take an awful long time to get you into the centre.
The answer for many is to look at hotels within easy walking distance of a Metro or rail station. We have a page dedicated to highlighting some of the best value hotels in the inner suburbs.
Staying around the Vatican
Prati District: typical street in Rome
The main reason, for some the only reason, to visit Rome is to visit the Vatican. It is on the northern border of the ancient city, on the other side of the river.
There are hotels around the Vatican, mostly to the east of it where Prati a middle-class suburb built on a grid pattern is located. The picture right is typical of what you will see for block after block. Nothing very high rise or modern.
Accommodation is of all grades, but there is a very good selection of small family owned bed and breakfast accommodation with just a few rooms.
The Rome Metro has several stations in the district and there is a constant stream of buses shuttling between the Vatican and Termini Station through the heart of the city. All the popular hop on, hop off buses of course visit this area so although across the river from the city you are not cut off.
Staying around the Colosseum
Down the hill from Termini Station, at the southern tip of the ancient centre is the Colosseum and Roman Forum. Mid way between the two is the Rione Monti district - for most people the nicest district to stay in this part of the city.
The district tucked between via Nazionale and via Cavour, has kept intact all its enchanting beauty and this is thanks to its lovely narrow side-streets and superb examples of architecture almost around every corner.
The area has a village like atmosphere with plenty of small café’s and quite a lot of oriental restaurants too.
Ancient City: small hotel in Rome
Accommodation is mostly in small establishments that blend in rather than stand out and range from cheap family bed and breakfast to boutique hotels.
Staying in the Ancient City
The ancient city centre itself has perhaps, given the narrow lanes and ancient buildings a surprising choice of accommodation, especially around the Trevi Fountain/ Spanish Steps district. As well as being fascinating from a historical perspective, this is a very high class shopping district and very popular restaurant area as well.
Given the age of the buildings, you won't find large hotels here with plenty of facilities, but you will find 'character' smaller establishments.
Villa Borghese & Via Veneto
Perhaps the most exclusive area to stay is around Villa Borghese and Via Veneto just to the east of the ancient centre. Many of the trophy hotels in Rome are located at the top of Via Veneto, adjacent to Villa Borghese, the equivalent in Rome of Hyde Park in London or Central Park in New York.
Here you have the best of both worlds. Perched up here on the hill you are just ten minutes' walk from the ancient centre, Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain and the recreational bolt hole that is the Villa Borghese, where you can easily find your own secluded corner and some peace and quiet.
This area is relatively spread out with elegant villas, top of the range restaurants and shopping. If money is no object, or you want to make your visit to Rome really special, this is a good place to look.