I love visiting Rome and we’ve been a few times now as I find it’s somewhere that I’m happy to go and explore time and time again.
For me Rome has a little bit of everything. There’s wonderful architecture, fascinating history, great food, brilliant bars and restaurants and it’s so easy to explore on foot.
I actually think my love of Rome started before I even visited as one of my all time favourite films is Roman Holiday, a 1953 American romantic comedy film directed and produced by William Wyler. It stars Gregory Peck as a reporter and Audrey Hepburn as a royal princess out to see Rome on her own.
Where to Stay
I always have a bit of a dilemma when I’m looking for somewhere to stay. I prefer smaller quirky hotels and I like them to have a bit of character, so this tends to mean I don’t usually end up with a Budget Hotel. However, I’ve come to realise that where I stay is very important to me even if we don’t spend a lot of time in the room I find the actual Hotel has a significant impact on my overall experience.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a bargain and if I can find a small quirky or slightly unusual Hotel or B&B I’ll book it.
Now you know my criteria for a Hotel or B&B you’ll understand why two of my favourite places to stay in Rome are Spagna Royal Suite and Hotel Locarno.
Spagna Royal Suite - Rome
This one was slightly more expensive than usual, but we stayed here when we visited Rome for my birthday and I just couldn’t resist booking somewhere that overlooked the Spanish Steps.
The main part of the Hotel is in an elegant townhouse close to the Spanish Steps. The Hotel décor is totally over the top but in a wonderfully extravagant way with plenty of quirky and unique touches; from gilt-edged chaises longues and stand-out sculptures to textured designer wallpaper.
Our Suite was just around the corner from the main Hotel and Reception and was just above the very fashionable shops on Via dei Condotti, directly overlooking the Spanish Steps.
To get to the Suite you had to take an old fashioned wrought iron elevator up. The Suite had a large lounge area, huge bedroom and enormous bathroom. The Suite was furnished in an Art Deco style and had large windows which opened out onto the Piazza di Spagna.
I loved everything about our Suite at the Spagna Royal Suite and it was worth splashing out on for a birthday treat.
Another of my favourite Hotels in Rome is Hotel Locarno.
Opened in 1925, Hotel Locarno, a four-star hotel in the historic centre of Rome, is a refined ‘guesthouse’: a gem of class and charm and authentic guardian of a certain era. The hotel has an unbreakable bond with the world of art and culture; over the years it has offered shelter for artists, film-makers, writers, musicians and travellers.
The Hotel is in an old building on Via della Penna, only a stone’s throw from Piazza del Popolo so in a very central position. The Hotel blends Old World charm and art nouveau elegance. The rooms preserve turn-of-the-20th-century decor, including lavish curtains, oil paintings, embellished ceiling stuccoes, and antique furniture.
Hotel Locarno is sophisticated and elegant and full of character, it has a timeless charm and has a relaxed atmosphere. I love the outdoor courtyard where you can have drinks in the evening or breakfast in the morning; and the secret roof garden is a wonderful place for a drink.
Our room was quite simply furnished with parquet wood flooring and decorated in tasteful cool calm colours, but our bathroom was wonderfully extravagant with old fashioned bath and original marble.
Although not a particularly small hotel it is full of charm and character and I love staying there.
My 10 Favourite Things to do in Rome
For me the best thing about Rome is that you can just wander around and explore the City. But if I had to choose my top 10 “Must See / Do” things to do in Rome, I’d start with these.
1. Eat Gelato – this is number 1 on my list as I am a huge Gelato fan. When we eat out in Italy I usually forgo the dessert in the restaurant as I’d much rather get a Gelato on the way back to our Hotel or B&B.
2. Colosseum – you can’t really visit Rome without going to see the Colosseum. It was inaugurated in 80 A.D. with 100 days of games, including gladiatorial combats and animal fights and it was the largest amphitheater in the Roman Empire.
3. Trevi Fountain – a gorgeous Baroque masterpiece with a marble statue of Neptune at the centre, surrounded by tritons. Legend has it that anyone who throws a coin in the fountain will return to Rome. It can get very crowded with tourists so go early in the morning or late in the evening.
4. Vatican Museums – the treasures housed in the Vatican Museums are stunning. When visiting don’t miss Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Other highlights in the 1,400-room palace include the Raphael Rooms, old master paintings, and antique sculptures.
5. St Peter’s Basilica – you don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate this magnificient piece of architecture. The original dates back to 349 A.D. when Constantine had a basilica built over the tomb of St. Peter, the first pope. The first church was knocked down to make way for the current one which was built in 1626.
6. The Column of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina – the column stands in Piazza Colonna and is thought to have been erected by Commodus in memory of his father and mother sometime around 180 CE. The column was inspired by its more famous predecessor Trajan’s Column which was built in 113 CE.
7. Aperitivo – the Italian happy hour, find a bar and have an aperitivo and you’ll find they’re served with snacks. The Romans love to have an aperitivo after work.
8. Villa Borghese – it’s nice to be able to wander through the green leafy park with it’s orange blossom trees and flower beds and you can even take a boat out on the lake.
9. Centro Storico – wander around the narrow cobblestone streets that make up Centro Storico. Here you’ll find lots of small boutiques and gelaterias, cafes and restaurants. You can start at Piazza del Popolo and work your way towards Piazza Venezia.
10. Take an Open Top Bus Tour – it’s a fantastic way to city from a unique perspective and you get to cover a lot of ground and give your feet a rest, you can always hop on and off if you want to explore further.
There are so many other things to see and do in Rome but the fun of visiting new places is to find some of them by yourself.
If you find you have a spare day when visiting Rome why not take a day trip to Tivoli and explore Villa D’Este and Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli which are both worth visiting and the train journey is fun and cheap.