Although there are world-class luxury hotels and charming B&Bs slightly outside the centre, the only way to truly experience this city is by staying in the historic heart of Rome.
Roman life is lived in the side alleys, in the squares or piazzas, so the best way to get around is on foot. Traffic can get crazy so you don’t want to waste too much time in a taxi and the Metro is where a lot of tourists get pickpocketed if they don’t look local.
While many cities in the world have a historic centre that appeals only to tourists and culture lovers, Rome boasts historical attractions, hipster cool cafés, family-friendly spots, high-end luxury, rustic food markets and local hangouts all mixed in together.
Steer clear of the suburb of Termini; even though it is near the main station and seems convenient if you’re in the city for one night with an early flight, the hotels will leave the romantic Italophile severely disappointed. If you want to be near the station, opt for the impossibly cool and picturesque area of Monti, arguably the best spot in Rome for young artists and fashionistas.
Don’t be tempted to stay in Borgo Pio if you’re interested in visiting the Vatican; it’s rife with restaurants where the menu is in seven languages and every store is targeting the heavy tourist trade. A better option is Via Giulia, which is just across the river. The walk to the Vatican is so enchanting you will want to make a day of it.
If you’re looking for a serviced apartment or B&B, try searching the site linked to the free press magazine Romeing, run by young trendy Romans and expats who know the city better than anyone. You’ll find many of the apartments in the hipster neighborhood of Monti but if you prefer something a little more traditional, try Via Giulia. It has the benefit of being right near Campo Dei Fiori so you can pick up some fresh produce from the famous food market and cook in your apartment kitchen.