I would summarize as follows:
- First time visitors to Rome - Centro Storico
- For those wanting to be close to Vatican city - Prati district
- For best of the boutique hotels - Area around Spanish Steps
- For those wanting to stay in a short term apartment - Testaccio district
- For those looking for active nightlife - Trastevere
- Area to avoid - Neighborhood around Termini Station
Rome is a fairly compact city with most attractions in relatively close proximity to each other in an area called historic center (Centro Storico) on the eastern bank of the Tiber. Colosseum and Vatican city are at the extreme ends of a tourist’s Rome but can be reached in fifteen minutes by car, or about half an hour using the public transport.
Centro Storico is the best location to stay in Rome
Especially if it’s your first time in Rome and you’re looking to check the city’s most well-known attractions off your bucket list, then the Centro Storico is where you want to book your hotel. Centro Storico is easily the most central place to stay in Rome. However, Centro Storico is not cheap, or quiet. Expect a busy and relatively expensive stay, and lots of tourist activity.
Popular hotels in Centro Storico:
- The Adriano
- Hotel Senato
- Hotel Raphael
- Abruzzi Minerva
My favorite is Hotel Adriano, for example, just a five minute walk from the Pantheon and the Via del Corso.
Centro Storico is central but can get very touristy. If you are looking for areas that are non touristy, you should consider Prati district. Prati is closer to Vatican city than to the Rome’s city center. However, the area is well served by Metro A line and Piazza Risorgimento bus depot, which means most of the city’s top attractions are easily accessible.
The Prati district is largely residential and well known for its authentic eateries; L’Isola della Pizza, or ‘Pizza Island’, offers abundant antipasti and remains one of my favourite places to eat near the Vatican Metro. Prati is also home to Triumphal Regional Market, one of the largest markets in Rome. The market stocks everything from fresh products to clothes, bags, shoes & games.
Hotel Metropole is my prefered choice in Prati neighbourhood. It is a modern hotel with friendly staff and incredible accessibility for travellers with limited mobility – the hotel also boasts an excellent restaurant! The nearby Lepanto Metro station offers access to the city’s transport system.
Avoid staying around Termini Station
Despite being the city’s transport hub, the area around Termini Station isn’t necessarily the best place from which to set out experiencing the city. While most attractions are within walking distance from Termini, the area is one of Rome’s more unreliable and degraded.
Pickpockets and petty criminals operate here, taking advantage of the density of people moving around the station. There are a large number of hotels in close range of the station, which mostly cater to visitors on a tighter budget.
San Lorenzo, the alternative district
Marketed as an ‘alternative’ side to Rome, San Lorenzo is fairly distant from most of Rome’s top sights, and lacks the strong public transport connections of neighbourhoods on the other side of the Termini train station. There are buses and trams available, but there are no Metro lines. The area is popular with students, and as a result can be very noisy in the evenings and into the night.
For many, Trastevere is the best location to stay in Rome as a tourist. The area is almost equidistant from city’s major sights. An old working-class enclave, Trastevere comes alive at night. Alongside the trattorias, which stay open into the evening, the area is filled with bars and nightclubs. Tourists and Romans alike flock to the neighbourhood to try a multitude of craft beers and cocktails. If you’re not looking to get too experimental, a Peroni should cost you less than two euros.
If you’re looking to stay in Trastevere, I recommend Hotel Trilussa Palace, a very friendly hotel with tram access to the city’s historic centre.
Area around Spanish Steps is most charming
The other area you could consider is one around Spanish Steps and the nearby Via Veneto. The area is home to many elegant and luxury hotels.
Hotel Piazza di Spagna, Hotel Daniels, and Hotel Portrait are right to next to Spanish Steps and are all great hotels. If you are looking for boutique accommodation, you must check into Crossing Condotti.
When you are in Spanish Steps, an absolute must-see for lovers of poetry is the Keats - Shelley house, situated just at the corner as you begin climbing the steps.
Historic Center, for those who want to stay comfortably close to the most interesting things to visit.
Rione Monti is an area of the center a little shabby and full of character, there are bars, cafes and boutiques.
Trastevere is a youthful area with bars and is ideal for those looking for nightlife. In some places it is noisy.
Flaminio, well connected to the Historic Center, is a practical neighborhood for families. It is quiet and there are several things to see: the Auditorium Parco della Musica, the Maxxi, the flea market of Borghetto Flaminio and "Explora" the Children's Museum in Rome.