Where to stay in Rome for a budget base in the Eternal City

Boutique Hotel Campo de' Fiori
Boutique Hotel Campo de' Fiori

Rubbing shoulders with Rome’s historical and cultural draws (classical ruins, Renaissance palazzi, art-packed museums and magnificent Baroque fountains) is a buzzing contemporary city of great cheap-and-charming neighbourhood trattorias, quirky little shops, fantastic markets with great street food and a hopping aperitivo scene. To this mix, add a veritable host of hotels that suit independent travellers seeking top places to stay at a reasonable price, and it all combines to make Rome a great destination for the budget traveller. It just proves that you don't have to splash out or compromise on quality; you can find cheap hotels in Rome that don't scrimp on stylish comforts. Here's our pick of the city's best budget boltholes.

Have a peer into the past with a cosy stay at this retro hotel. Besides a few modern amenities, all elements of this hotel date back decades, and the vintage look pays homage to various, mostly American, design trends from the 1940s to the 1970s. Collections of toy cars, coffee mugs and books add to the vintage vibe. Stepping into one of the rooms was like a trip back in time to an Italian grandmother’s home; memory foam beds are modern and comfortable, however. There’s lots of space allows for lounging on wood and fabric chairs and the various communal kitchenettes and gathering space presents a social atmosphere.

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The unapologetic Old World romance of Hotel Campo de' Fiori is a standout. An ivy-covered façade, Pompeii-red walls, tufted velvet galore – this is Rome at its most classic. Interiors are saturated in old-school elegance, from the rich velvet and silk furnishings to the gilt mirrors and chandeliers. The rooms are similarly grand, with canopy beds and surprisingly sleek black-and-gold bathrooms. Upgrade for a chance to enjoy the view from the flower-filled private balconies. The sole contemporary flourish is the stylish rooftop terrace that extends over three levels and offers some of the best views over this part of the city.

The best hotels in Rome

Just steps from some of Rome’s most iconic sights, exciting restaurant scene, and vibrant nightlife, Residenze Argileto offers all you need for both going out and staying in. It’s right on the border of trendy Monti – just a five-minute stroll from the Colosseum and Roman Forum, some of the city’s most famous archaeological sites. The funky, peacock-themed organic bistrot is a fun hangout, as is the lovely rooftop terrace, furnished with a hot tub. The hotel’s pocket-sized spa matches the informal yet curated feel of this renovated 18th-century townhouse, with rough tobacco-coloured stone and soft candlelight.

The best boutique hotels in Rome

Hotel Modigliani has upped its game from reliable yet démodé to elegant and airy, positioning itself as one of the best valued options in the Piazza Barberini area of Rome's historic centre. The bar serves a free welcome drink and snacks in the evenings, which guests can take to the delightful outdoor courtyard to enjoy alfresco. The rooms and bathrooms are bright, airy spaces with white-lacquered wainscoting and furniture, a muted sand-and-buff palette, and polished travertine floors – all of which make the rooms seem larger than they are. The garden-facing rooms with private balconies seal the deal.

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The Nerva Boutique Hotel is a cut above your average three-star accommodation in Rome. It has the air of a stylish townhouse, stellar staff, and one of the best continental breakfasts in town. Fresh-cut flowers and art books abound, and a deliciously inviting fragrance wafts through the whole hotel. Staff will happily arrange private guided tours, personal shoppers, spa appointments, fresh flowers and wine, and even a welcome basket of treats and champagne. Throw in a location straddling trendy Monti and the Roman Forum and refined rooms with high-quality fittings, and you have the ideal pied-à-terre in the Eternal City.

The best luxury hotels in Rome

One of those friendly neighbourhood b&bs that garners fierce loyalty, Suites Trastevere is an excellent budget choice deep in the funky Trastevere district, known for its bustling restaurant scene and nightlife. Marco, the one-man owner, manager, and concierge who genuinely loves interacting with guests is the definition of hospitality. Rooms are decorated from floor to ceiling in trompe l'oeil scenes of Roman landmarks, a design choice that might have veered into kitsch were it not for the deft hand and muted palette of artist Stefania Savioli. The bright, contemporary communal kitchen serves great coffee.

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This small three-star hotel is in the heart of Rome’s unassuming Celio neighbourhood. The area has the atmosphere of an authentic Roman neighbourhood, and is unexpectedly quiet, despite its proximity to some of the city’s most popular and crowded sights, including the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Circus Maximus. The hotel has an old-fashioned earnestness that makes up for its lack of cutting-edge design. Its convenient location, just steps from the Colosseum, and a surprising range of amenities make it excellent value.

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Relais Le Clarisse is a good option if you are looking for affordable historical accommodation on the other side of River Tiber. The location is what makes this hotel, as it’s surrounded by medieval architecture, local bistros and antique shops. The hotel itself is tucked away behind former cloister grounds. Rooms are large for such an ancient structure, some with traditional wooden antique furniture and wrought-iron bed frames. The highlight has to be the internal courtyard with ancient olive trees, once the monastery’s herb garden, and is always open for guests to sit and relax with a glass of Prosecco or with an espresso.

Prices cited on Booking.com are subject to change in high season and during popular holidays and events.

Contributions by Nicola Ferlei Brown, Lee Marshall, Rebecca Winke & Eileen Cotter Wright

Prices cited on Boooking.com are subject to change in high season and during popular holidays and events.