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Rome
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Where to stay in Rome

Figure out where to stay in Rome with this guide to the Eternal City’s most magnificent neighbourhoods

Written by
Natalie Aldern
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Choosing where to stay in Rome is no easy task. The Italian capital is massive, and the eternal battle between ancient history and modern neighbourhoods isn’t about to end anytime soon. That throws up plenty of difficult questions to answer for the prospective visitor. Do you blow the budget on a boutique hotel near the Forum? Or cosy up with the Eternal City’s edgier residents? Or do you simply book one of the best hotels in the historical centre and get focused on monument bingo?

There are no wrong answers, in truth. No matter where you stay in Rome, you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied. Check out our guide to the five best neighbourhoods of the Eternal City, and let your heart (wallet and interests) guide you.

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Where to stay in Rome

Testaccio
Photograph: Flickr/Nicola Delfino

Testaccio

When in Rome, live as the Romans do. Though quickly rising to the ranks of seriously trendy, the city’s Testaccio neighbourhood has maintained some appealingly rough edges thanks to its working-class history. Once home to the largest slaughterhouse in Europe, Testaccio is where many of the city’s culinary traditions have their roots. While laundry flaps outside, foodies flock to the area’s abundant restaurants for platters of oxtail, sweetbread and tripe. The affordable enclave feels miles apart from tourist crowds even though the Colosseum lies two metro stops away. 

EAT

Start your day at Tram Depot, a seasonal kiosk that has the area’s best outdoor seating from April to October. After a third wave coffee and an artisan cornetto (Italian croissant), make sure lunch plans include a meal at Flavio al Velavevodetto, a bustling trattoria known for its hearty Roman classics.

DRINK

Locals know that the best aperitivo in the area is to be had at Oasi della Birra, but for a more refined glass of wine, head to Taverna Volpetti. The bistro-style restaurant serves gourmet cheese and meat platters from the neighbouring Volpetti speciality food shop.

DO

Testaccio’s recent urban renewal is most apparent at the ex-Mattatoio, the former slaughterhouse that has been transformed into the setting for the contemporary art museum MACRO Testaccio. Along the way, stop at Monte dei Cocci, the neighbourhood’s namesake hill that is actually an archaeological site made up of 53 million broken Roman pots.

STAY

Chains have been slow to catch up with this rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood, but Re Testa, Testaccio’s only hotel, has simple contemporary rooms inside the Mercato di Testaccio complex.

If you do one thing…

Explore the Testaccio Market, which combines traditional Italian fresh market stands with street food stalls like the popular panini shop Mordi e Vai.

Trastevere
Photograph: Courtesy Flickr/Diana Robinson

Trastevere

Once considered the wrong side of the river, Trastevere has established itself as one of Rome’s most charming quarters. The area is filled with small ivy-draped lanes that spiral away from a lively central square. Some of those scenic alleyways are, admittedly, packed with boisterous students seeking abundant drinks and late-night crowds, but Trastevere still manages to hold on to plenty of authentic appeal. Most of the pubs and bespoke boutiques are north of Viale Trastevere, while the area to the south boasts better restaurants and quiet bookshops. 

EAT

Join the line of hungry Romans queuing up for crispy thin pizza at Ai Marmi, or snag a reservation at Michelin-starred Glass Hostaria for a less traditional but impressively indulgent tasting menu that includes almond gazpacho with lychees and foie gras. 

DRINK

Inspired by Mexico City’s vibrant cantinas, La Punta Expendio de Agave serves excellent tequila and mescal based cocktails against a backdrop of adorably gaudy paraphernalia from south of the border. 

DO

Catch a live show at Alcazar, a former 1950s movie theatre turned into an intimate venue that hosts everything from concerts to vintage markets.

STAY

Housed in a building dating to 1122, Relais Le Clarisse was once a church cloister. The hotel still shares a wall with the original church, but the space has been recently remade into 18 rustic-style rooms.

If you do one thing…

Escape the crowds by climbing the Gianicolo Hill to take in the stunning views of Rome’s cupola-dotted skyline.

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Monti
Photograph: Courtesy La Taverna dei Fori Imperiale

Monti

Once a Bohemian enclave on the edge of the historic centre, fashionable Monti has recently moved slightly higher end. The result is a mix of vintage stores and family-run restaurants between upscale boutiques and vegan gelato shops. While the traditional neighbourhood has taken on a slight hipster tinge, it’s only a short walk from the Colosseum and remains an ideal base for exploring the rest of the city. Whether your jam is archaeological ruins, dangerously hip Brazilian sushi, or cheap drinks in the picturesque square, Monti has a little something for everyone. 

EAT

Elbow your way to the counter at Zia Rosetta for mini sandwiches with gourmet Italian fillings, or book a table at homey La Taverna dei Fori Imperiale and dig into cacio e pepe pasta topped with shaved truffles.

DRINK

Avant-garde Blackmarket has a mishmash of boho furnishings and a laid-back vibe that will make you want to get comfortable with another cocktail while a local band sets up in the corner. Serious wine lovers will feel more at home stopping for a drink at the intimate Al Vino Al Vino bar.

DO

Boutique-hop along Via del Boschetto, where independent designers have set up shop alongside retro furniture resellers.

STAY

The Fifteen Keys Hotel takes its name from the number of rooms it offers—15 unique and modern spaces inside a townhouse-style former office building. The updated design blends Danish simplicity with Roman pops of colour and original architectural details.

If you do one thing… 

The aforementioned La Taverna dei Fori Imperiale takes the cake; restaurants don't come much more romantic than this.

Tridente
Photograph: Flickr/Andrés Nieto Porras

Tridente

For those who can’t resist the siren call of central Rome, Tridente near Piazza del Popolo hits all the right notes. The neighbourhood splits away from the square along three main roads (hence its “trident” name), including Via del Corso—Rome’s most popular avenue for shopping. The affluent area is filled with luxury hotels and bustling crowds heading towards the Spanish Steps but also has modern galleries and artisan workshops tucked in along single-lane alleys. These surprisingly tranquil corners make Tridente perfect for visitors who want to be close to the action without sacrificing the Old-World charm that makes Rome such a unique capital city.

EAT

Settle in for a coffee between marble sculptures at Caffè Canova-Tadolini, where a neoclassic studio has been converted into a ritzy dining room. For more casual and comfortable fare in the otherwise swank neighbourhood, reserve a table for lunch at Gino al Parlamento.

DRINK

Nestled on the rooftop of Fendi’s central Palazzo, Zuma is a Japanese-inspired bar and restaurant. The dim zen-like space is where fashionable young professionals gather for a post-work cocktail with a side of edamame.

DO

Pass the Spanish Steps and continue to the Giorgio de Chirico House Museum. Preserved in all of its 1960s glory, the former home of the Italy-based artist features his personal art collection and studio.

STAY

The First Roma hotel has splurge-worthy rooms filled with modern masterpieces and an unbeatable rooftop bar with views for days.

If you do one thing… 

Brave the stairs to the Pincio Terrace and wander through the expansive Villa Borghese park.

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Pigneto
Photograph: Courtesy Rosti

Pigneto

Gritty Pigneto has long been a gathering place for artists and creatives along the eastern edge of the city. Once a favourite living set for Neo-Realist Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, the neighbourhood now serves as a canvas for street artists. Because Pigneto maintains some of its shabby splendour, the suburb is a magnet for hipsters who mingle with the families of former railway workers who originally lived in the Liberty-style villini (detached houses) that dot the neighbourhood. The area’s vibrant heart is undeniably along Via del Pigneto—a pedestrianised street that hosts a market by day but becomes Rome’s mecca for outdoor nightlife after the shops close and the bars open. 

EAT

Necci first opened in 1924 as a gelateria and has slowly but surely evolved into an all-around ideal neighbourhood hangout for any hour of the day. But the coffeehouse remains best for breakfast, when freshly baked cakes can be savoured on the plant-filled patio.

DRINK

Ring the buzzer and push through butcher's plastic at La Premiata sandwich shop to gain access to the trendy Spirito speakeasy, a New York prohibition-themed bar.

DO

Check out the street art on Via Fanfulla da Lodi before popping into Blutopia to peruse the music store’s impressive vinyl collection. 

STAY

Renting an apartment is the best way to get the full Pigneto experience, but Eurostars Roma Aeterna hotel has convenient and comfortable rooms steps from the neighbourhood’s main thoroughfare. 

If you do one thing...

Ride your fixed-gear bicycle to Rosti for cocktails on the patio.

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