hotel recommendations

These are the places where I personally stayed at during my trip to Italy in 2002. Because I traveled during October, which is considered peak season in terms of hotel rates, the prices are sligihtly higher than that during other times of the year. All of these hotels are rated three-star (***) bexcept for Hotel Oceania in Rome, which is a two-star (**). I find this government-rated star system very handy because it gives you a guideline of approximately what you can expect in terms of service and amenities. All rooms mentioned below are furnished with two twin beds, and the floors are European-style, which means "1st floor" is really the 2nd floor in the U. S.


Hotel Botticelli ***
Via Taddea, 8, 50123 Firenze
+ tel, + fax
€199 per night; Room 104, 1st floor

Very friendly and helpful staff. Great breakfast (cheese, prosciutto, ham, apple Dannon yogurt, etc.) and unforgettable capuccino. One block north of Mercato Centrale (where the excellent restaurant Trattoria Zà-Zà is). Five-minute-walk from the Duomo and ten from the Uffizi. Small bathroom & room, but very clean and comfortable (though some of the rooms we passed by seem to be bigger). The only hotel that had consistent hot water for all four days. Mini-bar in the room. No in-room safe (or there may have been a €3 charge; can't remember), but hotel concierge can keep valuables for you in the hotel safe free of charge. Highly recommended.

Possibility of choosing this hotel again on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 being the highest): 5


Hotel Aberdeen ***
Via Firenze, 48, 00184 Roma
+39.06.482.3920 tel, +39.06.482.1092 fax
€129 per night; Room 32, 1st floor

Lovely, large room and sparkling clean bathroom. Very comfortable. Has mini-bar next to the desk, and there's a self-number safe in the closet. Good breakfast (ham, cheese, roll). Inconsistent hot water. Free, convenient Internet access in the lobby. The Defense Ministry is right across the street, so soldiers and policemen are constantly patrolling the neighborhood and we felt very safe. Grocery stores and a tobacco shop are right around the corner. Bus and metro stops are two blocks away on Via Nazionale. The Coliseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and Via Veneto are all within walkable distance (around 15 minutes). Highly recommended.

The €129 rate quoted above is for Rick Steves readers. Normally the hotel rate may be slightly higher.

Possibility of choosing this hotel again on a scale of 1 to 5: 5

Hotel Oceania **
Via Firenze, 38, 00184 Roma
+39.06.482.4696 tel, +39.06.488.5586 fax
€135 per night; Room 6, 3rd floor

Stefano the hotel manager is very warm and helpful, as are other hotel staff members. Best hard pillow. The room is big and has a very high ceiling, but unfortunately the small bathroom had a very unpleasant smell for the two nights we were there. The hot water was quite inconsistent; you either get burned or freeze to death. There was no meat at breakfast (I'm a big meat eater so this is the first thing I look for each morning). The elevator was small and rickety, but serviceable when lugging heavy suitcases up to the 3rd floor. Very helpful to have a free, self-number combination safe inside the closet. It's on the same block as Hotel Aberdeen above, so again it's in a very safe neighborhood, as the Defense Ministry is right across the street. There are grocery stores and a tobacco shop a block away. Three minutes away from bus and metro stops on Via Nazionale. 15-minute walk from the Coliseum; around the same distance to the Pantheon and Spanish Steps.

Again, the €135 rate quoted above is for Rick Steves readers.

Possibility of choosing this hotel again on a scale of 1 to 5: 3


Antica Locanda dei Mercanti ***
Via Tomaso, 6, 20121 Milano
+39.02.805.4080 tel, +39.02.805.4090 fax
€180/night; Room 31, 3rd floor

Pictures of the rooms on their website are nothing like what we got. Unlike the richly furnished and warm rooms shown, Room 31 was stark and had no carpet (there was a thin rug between the two beds), curtains (a thin piece of white fabric covered the windows; the room got pretty bright when the sun came up), TV (we entertained ourselves by listening to the radio that had a bent antenna), nor fridge. The phone was analog so we were unable to use our calling cards to call home. What's more, we were attacked by FOUR mosquitoes while sleeping on our first night there. Thankfully we were able to find and kill them all at 4 in the morning. Like two of the hotels above, the shower had inconsistent hot water. The staff was friendly but forgetful — they offered to get us a taxi for the next morning, but when we showed up there was no taxi; one was secured within five minutes, however. The location is fine; it's right off the very busy Via Dante and only five minutes away from the Duomo.

Possibility of choosing this hotel again on a scale of 1 to 5: 1