Posted: 2/2/2020 | February 2nd, 2020
Rome is a city that sparks a thousand mental images. From ancient structures like the Colosseum or the Pantheon, to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, to the Vatican — not to mention tons of pasta and other delicious food — it has it all.
But planning a trip to Rome can sometimes be a pain.
Where should you stay? What are the best neighborhoods?
Rome is huge. It has 15 municipi (administrative areas), with the city center municipio alone divided into 22 smaller districts.
Whether you’re after a more historical area or something more local-feeling, or whether you are keen to experience great Italian food or Roman nightlife, there is a neighborhood in this amazing city to suit you.
To help you figure that out, here are some of my extensive thoughts on the best places to stay during your time in Rome based on my years of experience visiting there:
Trastevere is filled with narrow, cobblestone alleyways that run past buildings decorated with tangled ivy and vines. It makes you feel like you’re back in a medieval city.
For many centuries, Trastevere was a working-class district, but in recent years, it’s become a bohemian hotspot for foodies and tourists wanting to see beyond Rome’s big-name attractions. At night, you can mingle in the Piazza di Santa Maria with crowds of young locals and students enjoying the nightlife, eating, and drinking. And if you climb the nearby steps of Gianicolo Hill, you’ll reach a spot with views across Rome, including the Pantheon and the Capitoline Hills.
Best places to stay in Trastevere
- BUDGET: Hostel Trastevere – This hostel close to grocery stores and public transit has a great outdoor terrace common area with shade sails to keep you cooler in summer, and a cheap buffet breakfast, as well as fast Wi-Fi and air-conditioning. Rooms sleep a maximum of five people. The beds are comfortable too.
- MID-RANGE: Trastevere’s Friends – This B&B is quiet, with spacious double rooms, making it especially popular with couples. The rooms here are light and bright, and most include ample wardrobe space for unpacking. The place is clean, and the owners and staff are extra-friendly.
- LUXURY: Trastevere Royal Suite Trilussa – This luxury hotel has views over the Tiber River and is central to all the amazing restaurants and cafés of Trastevere. Each room is uniquely decorated with paintings or ornate mirrors. Breakfast is included in your room price.
The very oldest part of Rome is Monti, which is full of winding cobblestone streets and antique stores. Local residents are often creative types, and they’ve made sure there are plenty of quirky cafés, intimate bars, and independent businesses for you to explore. You can wander the streets past endless shades of pastel-colored walls, and browse the clothes and jewelry at the Mercato Monti vintage market.
Best places to stay in Monti
- BUDGET: Palladini Hostel Rome – This might be a hostel, but it hasn’t skimped on the décor, with stylish black-, red-, and white-themed communal areas and artwork and chandeliers in the private rooms. It’s just 200m from Termini station so it’s really easy to access any public transport option you might want.
- BUDGET: Hostel Alessandro Downtown – Cleanliness, a friendly staff, and a social atmosphere make this a good choice. It’s a great place to stay if you want to meet other travelers, either in the hostel itself or the bar, which is popular with many backpackers exploring Rome.
- MID-RANGE: Apollo Rooms Colosseo – Clean and new, with friendly owners and a gelato bar at the back of the building, this property has a vibe that makes up for the fairly small (but tastefully decorated) rooms.
LUXURY: Monti Palace Hotel – This stylish hotel includes a wholesome buffet breakfast and a rooftop bar with gorgeous views of the city. The rooms are spacious, sleek, and well lit.
Prati is close to St Peter’s Square and the Vatican — it shares a border with the northern end of the Vatican State — and includes Via Cola di Rienzo, which is one of the most well-known shopping streets in the city for high-end brands. Prati is also an area where you’re less likely to find hordes of tourists, and it’s great for imagining what life would be like if you were a wealthy Roman.
Best places to stay in Prati
- BUDGET: Arts & Rooms – This is a great budget option, with fast Wi-Fi and a communal kitchen filled with snacks (guests get use of the coffee machine too). It’s elegant, with simple but tasteful furnishings.
- MID-RANGE: Luxury on the River – Despite its name, this place comes at a mid-range price and is located in a historic building overlooking the river. It has helpful staff and a varied breakfast, plus the rooms are quite large. There’s real Italian flare to the décor and a cozy lounge and library.
- LUXURY: Hotel NH Collection Roma Giustiniano – This four-star hotel with spacious rooms is a great value. All its rooms have gorgeous parquet floors, and many have balconies with great views. There’s also a small gym and a restaurant on-site.
Ostiense is a half-hour bus ride south of the center of Rome, but it’s a great neighborhood for a less touristy experience. Formerly an industrial area, it’s had a hipster makeover and is famous for its street art, food, and nightlife. On Via Giuseppe Libetta, you’ll find many of Rome’s best nightclubs and music venues. There’s even history here: the ancient Pyramid of Cestius, made of white marble blocks.
Best places to stay in Ostiense
- BUDGET: Verrazzano 37 Guest House – This small place offers four comfortable rooms with modern furniture, a shared kitchen, and free Wi-Fi and is right near a 24-hour grocery store. It has nice double rooms, making it especially popular with couples on a budget.
- MID-RANGE: Gasometer Urban Suites – Created out of a former factory in 2018, this spot features stylish and spacious rooms, and you can access a shared rooftop terrace with great views (and also a gym).
- LUXURY: Sheraton Roma Hotel – This luxury hotel and conference center has a fabulous pool area and is great for a summer stay, especially with kids. It’s less Italian in style than other accommodations in Rome but makes up for it with spacious, quiet rooms and excellent breakfasts. There’s a lot of garden greenery and even a small wooded area surrounding the hotel, so it feels like you’re much further from central Rome than you actually are.
Testaccio, a 20-minute walk south of the Colosseum, is an edgier district, a former slaughterhouse area now adored by foodies. It’s not necessarily full of Instagram-worthy architecture, but it’s really got heart.
There are a bunch of art museums and other sightseeing spots in Testaccio, but the best reason to stay here is the food, from the Testaccio Market with its gourmet street food stalls to spots like Da Remo, which many people claim has the best traditional pizza in Rome.
Best places to stay in Testaccio
- BUDGET: I-sleep B&B – This budget accommodation is in a really convenient location, but it’s still reasonably quiet. A light breakfast is included with your room rate. Most rooms are decorated in a modern black-and-white style and are clean and comfortable.
- MID-RANGE: 149 Guesthouse – Really helpful staff make a stay here great, and the espresso machines and jacuzzis are also a bonus. It’s in a classy building; rooms with balconies look over the leafy trees along the street. If you’re there on a Sunday, make sure you check out the outdoor Porta Portese flea market nearby.
- LUXURY: Seven Suites – You’ll get very good value for these spacious, modern rooms and a good breakfast in the café at the front. It’s recently renovated, with classy bathrooms and really comfortable memory-foam beds. It’s a small property with just six rooms, so it’s quiet.
Less than a 15-minute tram ride from the center of Rome, Pigneto is a colorful neighborhood full of interesting graffiti, street art, and murals that’s had a hipster makeover in recent years. Some people call it the Brooklyn of Rome, and I think that’s a fair description! It’s filling up with trendy bars and restaurants and often gets labeled Bohemian, although it’s a real mix of small, older homes and new apartment buildings. It’s also home to lots of small cocktail bars and cafés and other great spots for some people-watching.
Best places to stay in Pigneto
- BUDGET: Relais Villa Fiorelli – This is located in a quiet spot on the Piazza di Villa Fiorelli. It has simple, modern rooms with free Wi-Fi, some with balconies looking over the lush garden. Room rates include breakfast served either in your room or outside in the garden. The recent addition of the new Line C Lodi metro station makes it even easier to get into central Rome from here.
- MID-RANGE: Eurostars Roma Aeterna – Right on the Piazza del Pigneto, this hotel is in a former pharmaceutical factory. Inside, rooms are decorated with minimalist but stylish décor and photography. It offers a great breakfast, and there’s a well-equipped free gym too.
- LUXURY: Hotel Latinum – This boutique hotel of just twelve rooms has a special glass floor so you can see what lies under it, thanks to some archaeological excavation — a great way to remind you of the history of Rome even when you’re back in the hotel. It’s an elegant spot with beautiful wooden furniture, and the rooftop terrace is a good place to relax.
The Tridente area has plenty of tourists coming to see the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, but there’s also amazing shopping and fancy hotels and restaurants. Strolling back to your accommodation in Tridente, you’ll pass historic sites, old architecture, and endless options for dining.
Staying here means you might not get a particularly local feel for what it’s like to live in Rome, but you’ll be near many of the places you’ll want to visit, and you’ll get a taste for where wealthy Romans live.
Best places to stay in Tridente
- BUDGET: Crispi Relax – Less than a five-minute walk from the Spanish Steps, this guesthouse is great value for such a central location, with clean, air-conditioned rooms, though they’re relatively small (not surprising for the area). Some rooms have balconies for some extra space, and you can take in the views of what’s happening right there in the center of the city.
- MID-RANGE: Condotti Hotel – Also just around the corner from the Spanish Steps, Hotel Condotti is a small and elegant boutique hotel with an entrance off a quiet street, beautiful décor, and lots of added extras. If you’re traveling with kids, you can stay in the adjacent building in suites made of two connecting double bedrooms.
- LUXURY: Hotel d’Inghilterra Roma – This hotel close to the Spanish Steps and the Via del Corso shopping street, located in a beautiful 16th-century building, offers affordable luxury compared to some really pricey places in this part of town. The staff are very attentive, and the hotel restaurant, Café Romano, gets rave reviews. Each of its 88 rooms is decorated with its own style and charm.
Parioli is a largely residential, quieter part of Rome, but is less than a half-hour ride by metro or bus into the center. It’s full of gardens and parks, and its southern boundary runs along the Villa Borghese gardens. It’s typically home to some affluent locals with classy-looking apartment buildings, and if you’re planning a longer stay, it’s a great base that offers a taste of semi-suburban life in Rome.
Best places to stay in Parioli
- BUDGET: Hotel Delle Muse – This family-run hotel offers free Wi-Fi and an on-site restaurant. There’s a large covered terrace garden where you can eat lunch and dinner. The staff are really helpful, and there’s a bus stop nearby. Rooms are fairly small and a little dated, but it’s a clean and comfortable place at a good price.
- MID-RANGE: Parioli Place B&B – Friendly staff, great breakfast, and modern black-and-white interiors make this a solid mid-range choice. The roof garden is a lovely spot, and you can opt to eat breakfast up there, too.
- LUXURY: Hotel Lord Byron – This is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World yet is actually great value. The marble bathrooms are decadent, and the mahogany and rosewood furniture lends a completely charming art deco atmosphere — you’ll feel a little like you’re sleeping in a gallery. The hotel also has a lounge bar and the award-winning restaurant Sapori del Lord Byron.
9. San Lorenzo
If you want to stay somewhere with a student vibe, then San Lorenzo is it, near the Sapienza University and walking distance east of the city center. The neighborhood was bombed heavily in World War II and was never rebuilt quite as well as other areas, but what San Lorenzo lacks in prettiness it makes up for with fun.
There are lots of shopping options both for new Italian fashion and vintage clothes, great cheap pizza, and cool bars. Head to the Via dei Volsci and Via dei Sabelli to see where the young people of Rome enjoy a night out.
Best places to stay in San Lorenzo
- BUDGET: The Yellow – Situated on the university side of the central Termini railway station, this hostel is popular with backpackers looking for a party atmosphere, and it has local live music in its bar. There are other added extras, like yoga sessions on the rooftop or on-site Italian cooking and pasta-making classes. The staff are really friendly and responsive, and the place often ranks highly in votes on Rome’s best hostel stay.
- BUDGET: Alessandro Palace Hostel – This hostel offers lots of extras, like a rooftop bar with shady spaces to sit and relax, a gym, and two restaurants. The dorm rooms are quite roomy.
- MID-RANGE: Hotel Laurentia – Right in the liveliest part of San Lorenzo, this hotel has fine rooms and a delicious breakfast. The rooms (ranging from singles to quadruples) are spacious for the price, with a simple but elegant look. The dining area is quite different, with large brick arches dividing it into somewhat separate sections for some privacy.
- LUXURY: Hotel Royal Court – A very good value, this four-star hotel on the Termini Station side of San Lorenzo has an art nouveau look, with wood flooring and period furniture, and many of the rooms have really unique furnishings. The rooms and bathrooms are large; the quadruple rooms are a great option for family trips.
Rome is a big city with lots to see and experience, so figuring out which neighborhood will work best for you is partly about deciding whether you want to indulge in regular restaurant meals or nightlife, or be near plenty of the historical sights or try some more local neighborhoods for a “when in Rome” kind of experience.
If you have a longer stay, you can always consider starting in one of the inner city neighborhoods while you see the most famous sights, then having a few days a little further out to enjoy shopping and dining among locals.
Whatever you choose, Rome is a simply amazing city, and I’m sure you’ll be impressed with it!
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