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Roman Holiday

March 30th, 2009

Sachi and I are still trying to nail down the accommodations of our long-overdue honeymoon. We will be in Rome in late April, but it’s turning out to be harder than I thought to find a good place to stay. Hotels in the center of town are nice, but are far too expensive. At first I thought the prices were for the full five days, but the sites keep that nebulous just long enough to try to get you hooked; when I found out that 300 Euros was what these hotels charged for a day instead of all five days of our stay, that dropped out as an option. We found a great hotel in central London for a better price than anything that’s turned up in Rome, even outside the city center.

Apartments are available for rent around the city center, but they too tend to be overpriced. My sister stayed there when she went, but that was a better solution for her family as it was four people. The only affordable (under 100 Euros a day) apartments I can find lack both laundry and Internet, which are not exactly deal-breakers but do put a damper on things.

Hotels outside of city center look better–I found an acceptable place not too far out of town for about 105 Euros a day–but it is all a bit disappointing. One would think that something for less than $130 a day would be halfway decent, but not that I can find.

We’re still trying to figure out which to go for–the more centrally-located and cheaper apartments downtown, or the nicer, more-fully-equipped, catered hotels just outside of the city center which are nonetheless a short bus trip away.

Anyone with suggestions would be very much appreciated!

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  1. Karen Poza
    March 30th, 2009 at 01:47 | #1

    Hi Luis,

    Ah, internet in Rome. On our last visit I was using my Palm TX, and finding an open wireless network to piggyback on so I could send email updates was tough – I would leave our apartment and wander through the neighborhood checking for networks. Then I’d have to perch on a stoop somewhere while I connected and sent my emails…

    In Israel, and even Egypt, we found more wireless networks than in Rome. And in Rome cafes will not have free (or any other kind of) wireless. It is not cool to sit at a cafe with your laptop. It’s Rome, not Silicon Valley. We saw NO ONE doing this while we were there, and the one time we had a laptop out in public, people stared.

    My understanding is that 3G works in Europe, and if that’s the case, I’d suggest using your iPhone for any internet based activities.

  2. Paul
    March 30th, 2009 at 05:52 | #2

    I stayed in a place in Rome near the train station. It was actually pretty good, considering the price.

    What it really depends on is what you want your room for, and how fancy. Do you just want a place to sleep and shower? In that case, you can get a perfectly servicable room at a budget hotel that’s going to run more like 80 to 150 euro a night.

    Rome, I found, was (like you found) a pretty dang expensive city for hotels. I also thought that the public surface transportation was lacking a bit- slow because the city’s streets are such an ancient mess. (The subway, on the other hand, is pretty good.)

    I’d strongly suggest that you guys stay in the central areas and do a LOT of walking before you go (start NOW!) so you can just walk everywhere; there’s an incredible amount of stuff packed within a reasonable-if-you’re-in-shape walking distance.

    (I’m talking here of stuff that’s within a 20 to 30 minute walk, but since Rome is relatively hilly compared with other cities, a 25 minute walk is more strenuous there than other places.)

    Try going to http://www.hostels.com and do a search. You hear “hostel” and you think about college kids smoking dope in the stairwells and sleeping on bunk beds in a room with 12 other beds/people, but I found they have a LOT of B&B types of places (at least for Italy) along with small budget hotels and guesthouses there.

    Plus… ratings and reviews, which are always preferred in making your choice.

    These budget types of places will usually be pretty small rooms, even the doubles. The beds won’t be as comfy. You want to be sure to get one that’s en suite, because sharing your bathroom/shower sucks. And they’re often up a couple of flights of stairs in a building that might or might not have an elevator; the one I stayed in had an elevator cab that was literally just barely big enough for two people, or me and my big suitcase.

    (Some just use a hoist-type of lift for bags; hook them onto the wire and the guy boosts them up through the central stairs for you.)

    BUT… my place was also cleaned every day, the people (eastern European of one type or another) are friendly and while they might not have great English (or much at all) they will try and help you, and most of all it was reasonably priced.

    The neighborhood around Termini (the train station) is a bit rough; not “I’m afraid to walk on the main streets” rough, but when the sun goes down, along some of the side alleyways, there might be some girls just kind of hanging out and looking for a ride, if you know what I mean. The main streets- plenty of people around, even relatively late, so you’re safe. Side streets/alleys? Ehhh… don’t take shortcuts.

    Of course, within a block or three, there’s also a big glitzy shopping mall with luxury-level stores (Prada, Gucci, etc) and a movie theatre and what is possibly the world’s most expensive McDonald’s. (Well, maybe in Europe, anyway.)

    So it’s an interesting mix of folks. :)

    Anyway, that’s my suggestion. Hit hostels.com or hostels.net (different sites) and search them for hotels, guesthouses, and B&B types of accomdations. Heck, even have a look at actual hostels; many call themselves a hostel but offer private rooms and are really more like a hotel.

    Use the reviews section. Oh, and another tip- Google the joints you’re interested in and see if they have their own web site. Finally, while the bookings through the main web sites are usually fairly reliable, if the place you want to get has its own site, or even just a phone number, booking directly with them is probably a better bet- less chance of a “lost” reservation or any confusion.

    If you want to splurge, I can hook you up with a room at the Marriott Grand Hotel Flora, right smack in the middle of town… but it’s 290 euro a night. Email me if you want more info. http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/romdt-rome-marriott-grand-hotel-flora/

  3. Luis
    March 30th, 2009 at 11:35 | #3

    Karen: I’d love to do 3G while in Rome, but Global Roaming charges are prohibitively expensive. I might have to either log off while in Rome, or else find an Internet cafe close to where we stay.

    Paul: thanks for the link, I’ll check that out. A mid-town apartment very much has its appeals. Right now I am waiting on a return email from one of the apartment sites. Seeing as how it’s our honeymoon, however, we might just simply splurge on a relatively nice hotel (we found something called the Hotel Villa Carpegna that seems decent, for 105 Euros a night), but not as nice as the Marriot–which I found before, it was the one where I thought the listed charge was by the week, not the night. Ouch!

    But it’s good to know that Rome is indeed a very expensive city and I’m not really missing something.

  4. Paul
    March 30th, 2009 at 16:08 | #4

    Well, look at it this way. For the same time period (I used April 20 through 25th), Ginger or I can get a room at the Ginza Marriott for 171 bucks. The Rome Marriott? 385 US dollars. Ouch is right!

    Agree with you on the 3G- they kill you on international data useage if they’re anything like AT&T is. There are several internet-by-the-hour types of places near the budget hotels and hostels, such as the district immediately around Termini. And the one I used will do your laundry for you too!

    Then again, it’s a honeymoon; since you’re not dedicated to your blog-every-day goal like you were before (and with WP you can cheat and prewrite them and schedule them to appear later anyway) maybe just forgetting online life and enjoying Italy is a notion.

    It took a couple of days and then I really grew to enjoy Rome. Venice, I liked immediately, but Rome took a day or three to enjoy. Rome is actually fairly compact in the core of the city; it’s kind of dirty, and the drivers are amazingly aggressive, but… man, it’s Rome. ROME. :)

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