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A Dream Vacation
Italy is a dream destination for most people. It's filled with history and the hotels, when chosen well, can only add to the experience. If you choose the right hotel you'll really feel like you've stepped back to a time to when art and architecture were not only respected, but revered. Hotels in Italy can be luxurious, beyond anything you might imagine. You can also find rustic, older, quainter, or affordable options in most of the big cities.
It is still Europe however. Anticipate smaller rooms and cramped bathrooms. American are often surprised by the small size of their room. Often the showers consume the entire bathroom and you may find water spraying everywhere. In some of the older and more budget accommodation it's also good to confirm that the hot water works.
It is possible to find budget accommodations in the most convenient locations, so you don't have to sacrifice convenience for price. Shop around and make sure you'll be staying in the neighborhood that you desire. Also ask for a room with a view. Views can vary dramatically from room to room, so be sure and make your desire known early.
Research Your Options
In larger cities, it is typically best to book your reservations in advance. Rooms fill up and arriving without reservations can be quite overwhelming, even if you have a guide book. Hotels and hostels typically aren't clustered in one neighborhood, and are often tucked away down back allies where they are easy to miss. It will save you a lot of time and pain, as well as some money, to go ahead and make reservations in advance.
Like most touristy areas, traveling in the non peak seasons will save you a lot of money. Look for deals on hotels online, and if you're only traveling to one or two cities, look into booking your hotel and plane ticket as a combination package. This will save you money if you're looking to stay at a mid-range to high end chain hotel. Budget hotels rarely participate in these packages, and locally owned, boutique hotels, are often excluded as well.
In smaller towns it may be possible to show up and meet a local at the train station who has a room for rent. This is always a gamble, so make sure you understand the location you're traveling to and only consider doing this if you are arriving early in the morning. If you arrive later at night, there's a good chance that all of the rooms have been rented out.
Accommodation in Italy is much like the accommodation you would find elsewhere in Europe. The rooms can be small and the bathrooms cramped, but they typically have a lot of character. Location and views are perhaps the most important criteria so do some research and don't forget to request a room with a view.
It is possible to find short term apartments in many cities in Italy. They often come with a kitchen so you can cook your own meals, but don't let this discourage you from eating out in some of the country's wonderful restaurants.
In the smaller towns you may be able to stay with a local for a lower price. This experience typically surpasses anything you might find in a hotel, so it's worth trying at least once.
Many people fly in and out of Rome during their trip to Italy. It's a beautiful and historic city and it's easy to spend days wondering the streets here. Many hotels embrace the history of the area and use it to add ambiance and character to the rooms. There are also many small, locally owned boutique style hotels that are tucked away down alleyways. If you're looking for a backpacker hostel, you will also find plenty of those, but many are overcrowded and quiet loud. If you're traveling as a couple but want an affordable place to stay, skip the hostel and head for a small, cheap guesthouse. You'll get more value for your money and you'll pay about the same as you would for a hostel.
While the hotels are spread out throughout the entire city, there are some neighborhoods where you'll find a particularly high concentration of options. Just southwest of the Termini railway station you'll find plenty of large hotels that are a good option for larger groups of travelers. On the other side of the train station there's a higher concentration of smaller hotels that are affordable and appeal to budget conscious individual travelers. Another great area where you can stay is in the downtown area near the Pantheon. From this location all of the attractions are walkable and you're really in the heart of the action. You'll have to pay a little more, but many people think it's worth it.
The price of hotels in Florence is on the rise. If you're looking for a true budget option you might have to look outside the historic center of the city. There are some affordable options around the train station, but do keep your wits about you as this isn't the safest area in Florence. There are some chain hotels nearby as well, but if you really want to stay in a major chain do take note that most are pretty far outside of the city and some are concentrated by the airport. A local boutique hotel isn't only more interesting, it's also far more convenient.
One option to try and save a few bucks is to stay at a hotel that is geared toward business travelers. You'll get a better rate if you're in town on a weekend. Also look into making reservations online as this is where you'll often find the best deals.