Where to stay in Italy

How to find the perfect place to stay in Italy, whether you prefer traditional hotels or a more interesting option like a rental villa, agriturismi, hostel, residence, campground, castle, or convent

Hotels in ItalyAfter you take care of the transportation costs (plane ticket, railpasses, rental cars, etc), the single biggest expense on your trip will probably be for lodging. Luckily, this is also one of the easiest places to cut down your budget.

You could spend $400 to $800 on a posh hotel in Rome, go around the corner for a $90 double in a simple, moderate family-run B&B, or check into a hostel for $25 a night.

The variety of accommodation options is astounding, and that's what this section is for: a summation of you lodging options, and individual pages describing each in detail along with resources to help you track them down and book them.

My general advice? Don't blow your budget on a high-test hotel. Treat your lodgings as merely a place to lay your head for the night. After all, ideally you'll send almost every waking moment out and about, seeing the sights, enjoying the restaurants, and whiling away the afternoon in a café, returning to your room only to wash out a few pairs of socks and underwear and then crash after a vacation day well spent.

Best bets for solo travelers
Singles can avoid the high premium at most hotels by booking a bed, studio, or single rooms at:
That means the only truly important requirements are that your lodgings be clean, comfortable, central, and cheap (in that order). Don’t get too worked up over the place's look or amenities. The good news is, that sort of accommodation is widely available—it just isn't always easy to find.

That's why this section covers not just the best hotels in Italy (and how to find them), but also two dozen alternatives to hotels—from rooms for rent and B&Bs to agriturism farm stays and villa rentals, with apartments, castles, convents, and camping thrown in between. There are even eight ways to stay for free.

Where to find hotels in Italy

Top 10 lodging tips

Use a better booking engine

Use better booking engines. The best hotel booking sites can often undersell the rates the hotel itself charges by a good 5% to 15%. Notice I say "the best booking engines." This rarely means the big three (Orbitz.com, Expedia.com, Travelocity.com) or the major hotel sites (like Hotels.com).

You need to use a true Italy specialist booking engine like Booking.com, or a budget specialist like Hostelworld.com (which actually lists more inexpensive hotels, apartments, and B&Bs than it does hostels) or the last-minute site Laterooms.com.

I'm serious. That's why I've partnered with those sites. On may last Italy trip, I found—and booked—every single hotel through Booking.com because it had a better selection and lower prices than any other source (guidebooks included). » more

Where to book Italian lodgings

Free options

What are Italian hotels like?

Learn what Italian hotels are like. Enjoyment of any vacation is 80% perception—your mental state and the expectations you bring along with your luggage. Set your expectations realistically, and reality can only surpass them.

Just about every complaint I've ever heard or read about hotels in Italy stems from a single misperception: people somehow expect every hotel to be a Sheraton (or at least a Red Roof Inn). Don't go expecting a cookie-cutter American-style chain hotel and you won't be disappointed with Italy's tiny rooms, tinier bathrooms, curtain-less showers, and other European quirks.

Know what you're in for, and instead of lamenting the lack of HBO and matching queen beds you'll start seeing the lovely Italian touches: the hand-hewn ceiling beams, ancient terracotta floors, charming peasant-style furnishings, and doorways and windowsills that were carved by the same Renaissance stonecutters with whom Michelangelo was raised. » more

Look beyond hotels

Look into alternative accommodations. Hotels aren't the be-all and end-all of lodging options in Italy. In fact, for the most memorable trip, you might want to make them your fallback choice when it comes to looking for a place to stay for the night.

Why? Because hotels are usually among the more expensive options available, and yet are rarely the most fun or remarkable.

All things being equal, given the option of a study, reliable, but unremarkable standardized hotel room, wouldn't you rather stay in a nearby medieval castle, or on a working farm or vineyard, or in a family-run B&B, or perhaps even with some Franciscan monks in a historic monastery?

Even if you follow my own standard advice and consider your lodging to be just the cheapest comfortable place you can find to lay your weary head for the night, if you could get a bed that's both cheaper and in a more interesting setting, why not go for it? » more

Among the other options:

Check out the aggregators

Use an online personal shoppper to do your searches for you. Aggregators—HotelsCombined.com, Momondo.com, Vayama.comLink, Dohop.com—are kind of search engines of the search engines, canvassing most of the major search sites and booking engines out there and presenting the results side-by-side so you can comparison-shop quickly.

Try a bidding site

Try your luck with opaque/bidding sites. Booking with the opaque fares sites Priceline.comPartner or Hotwire.comPartner can often save you up to 50%—though most of the hotels offered will be big chain hotels, not mom-and-pop joints. Click on "more" to learn more about how they work (this is a page about using the services for airfares, but the process pretty much works the same for hotels): » more

Don't get star-struck

Don't book more hotel than you need. Don't get star-struck.

Hotels will be rated from one-star (simple) to five-star deluxe (posh). The difference has little to do with comfort, charm, or location and everything to do with how many amenities are on the checklist.

In other words, a crummy, bland hotel on the outskirts of town can add minibars and satellite TV channels and bump up to three– or four-star status (and prices), while a charming little inn—simple (no minibars, no satellite channels...heck, no TV), but clean and comfy, with friendly owners and a central location—might rate only one star.

Me? I'll book the one-star hotel every time. I mean, do you really need the minibar? And you came to see Italy, not sit around watching TV, right?

When I want to book a hotel, I look for the four Cs, in this order: Clean, comfortable, central, and cheap. "Charming" is also a nice touch, but only after the first four "C" needs have been met. » more

How to lower your hotel costs

Whittle down the price. There are tons of ways to lower the "rack rate" of a hotel room (besides using a booking engine).

  • Check the hotel’s website for deals, often offering amazing bargains (up to half off) found nowhere else.
  • Ask for least expensive room (amazing how often the priciest room rate is quoted first).
  • Learn to share the bathroom down the hall for 20%–50% off ("shared baths" are are rarely shared by more then 2–3 rooms).
  • Avoid the overpriced breakfast in favor of a cheap croissant and cappuccino at the corner bar with the locals (or, if you can’t get out of paying for the hotel breakfast, pile extras into a napkin for a picnic lunch later).
  • Crowd the family into one room (a quad or large double room with two cots will cost less than two doubles). Offer to pay cash and you'll often find €5 to €15 magically knocked of the rates.
  • And, of course, bargain with them (half-empty hotels will usually make you a good deal).
  • » more
Stay nearby

Consider staying with the neighbors. Everything in town either booked or way too expensive? Consider shaking up at a hotel in the next town over.

It may be cheaper, and nets you two cities for the price of one, with the second city often being a far less touristy one.

That said, you will miss out on any nightlife in the main city, and will spend a bit more time commuting—don't bother with anything more than a 30-minute commute by train. (Also, factor in that daily price of a train ticket into your calculations of how much you're saving.)

This technique doesn't work so well for Rome (nothing that interesting is close enough), but can work gangbusters for Venice (stay in Padova/Padua) or Florence (stay in Prato or Pistoia; with a car, you could even stay in the Chianti—bonus!). And why not stick around Milan just long enough the great sights, then hie out for gorgeous Lake Como to spend the night? (Bonus: Como is actually closer to the Milan Malpensa airport than Milan is.)

» more

Avoid the hotel rip-offs

Avoid the minibar, telephone, and laundry service. These are all ludicrously overpriced.

I call all of these hotel scams & rip-offs. Anything in the room that they can hang a price tag on, avoid it. Same thing goes for hotel breakfasts (get a cornetto—croissant—and cappuccino at the corner bar for half the price) and hotel garages (admittedly convenient, but the public lot will be up to 1/5 the price). » more

Useful Italian
Useful Italian phrases and terms for lodging

English (Inglese) Italian (Italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...a hotel un albergo oon al-BEAR-go
...a B&B un bed-and-breakfast oon bet hand BREK-fust
...a rental room un'affittacamera oon ah-feet-ah-CAH-mair-ra
...an apartment for rent un appartamento oon ah-part-tah-MENT-toh
...a farm stay un agriturismo oon ah-gree-tour-EES-moh
...a hostel un ostello oon oh-STEHL-loh
How much is...? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
a single room una singola OO-nah SEEN-go-la
double room for single use [will often be offered if singles are unavailable] doppia uso singola DOPE-pee-ya OO-so SEEN-go-la
a double room with two beds una doppia con due letti OO-nah DOPE-pee-ya cone DOO-way LET-tee
a double room with one big bed una matrimoniale OO-nah mat-tree-moan-nee-YAAL-lay
triple room una tripla OO-nah TREE-plah
with private bathroom con bagno cone BAHN-yoh
without private bathroom senza bagno [they might say con bagno in comune—"with a communal bath"] SEN-zah BAHN-yoh
for one night per una notte pair OO-nah NOH-tay
for two nights per due notti pair DOO-way NOH-tee
for three nights per tre notti pair tray NOH-tee
Is breakfast included? É incluso la prima colazione? ay in-CLOO-soh lah PREE-mah coal-laht-zee-YOAN-nay
Is there WiFi? C'é WiFi? chay WHY-fy?
May I see the room? Posso vedere la camera? POH-soh veh-DAIR-eh lah CAH-mair-rah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
Is there a cheaper one? C'é una più economica? chay OO-nah pew eh-ko-NO-mee-kah

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