Pleasantly surprised by Rome’s City Guest House Hotel

Millions of visitors flock to Rome to get a glimpse of ancient life, for a better sense of history, or as a religious pilgrimage. The Eternal City is a living museum. But away from the major attractions like the Colosseum and the Spanish Steps, people – Romans – really live there. I would imagine that the average visitor to Rome does not venture far from the historical center or The Vatican to get a taste of residential, modern-day Rome. But that’s where we found ourselves during our four-day visit to Rome, in the Tuscolano neighborhood at City Guest House Hotel.

Tuscolano street scene | Rome

Tuscolano street scene | Rome

Our goal in finding accommodations in Rome was to stay within our budget (under 100USD per night), and that pretty much eliminated staying anywhere near the major sights. I’d been to Rome before so I knew what we were up against. Since it was important for us to not go over our budget, we knew we would have to trade location for price. We just happened upon the City Guest House website days into our search for accommodations. The selling points for us were the price and the hotel’s proximity to the Metro A stop (Numidio Quadrato), the subway line that goes right into the historic center of Rome and to The Vatican. Like any informed traveler, I searched for and read reviews of City Guest House; most were positive and spoke of the hotel’s affordability and friendly staff. There were, inevitably, also more negative reviews, one reviewer even commenting that the neighborhood around the hotel is “sketchy”. Tough call for us since we were traveling with our toddler, but the pros seemed to greatly outweigh the cons, so we booked City Guest House and crossed our fingers.

City Guest House Hotel | Rome

City Guest House Hotel | Rome

We arrived at City Guest House on a Friday afternoon, earlier than the posted check-in time. Our room was ready, though, so we quickly dropped off our luggage, and rushed back out to return our rental car at Termini Station. My first impression of the hotel and our room was that an Ikea catalog exploded in there. While Ikea designs and furniture may not suit the tastes of some people, I found it to be comforting, clean looking, and modern. There was a transit strike in Rome that day so we could not take the Metro and see for ourselves just how close City Guest House is to the Metro stop. Instead, after exploring Rome for the day, we took a taxi back to City Guest House from Piazza della Rotonda. It took about 45 minutes and cost 25€. That definitely put a dent in our budget but we did not have a choice when it came to transportation that day.

Saturday morning, fresh start and no transit strike, so we planned to ride the Metro to The Vatican. The receptionist at City Guest House gave us directions to the Numidio Quadrato Metro stop and we were pleasantly surprised by just how close the stop is to the hotel. We were even more surprised that the ride to The Vatican stop, Ottaviano, took only twenty minutes! It all went quite smoothly, even with Lucia and her stroller in tow, and again later that evening when we returned to the hotel. On Sunday, we took another adventure on the Metro, this time riding the subway to the Spanish Steps. Again, painless, easy, and quick; the ride between Spanish Steps and Numidio Quadrato was approximately ten minutes in either direction.

As for the neighborhood being “sketchy”, that couldn’t be further from the truth! Mark and I spent some time walking around Tuscolano, just having a look, and never once did we feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Tuscolano is a straight-up, residential and commercial neighborhood that just happens to be outside the historical center of the city. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to see a different side of Rome. We saw families taking bike rides; Mark and I found a park a few blocks away from the hotel and stopped to watch the older men in the midst of a competitive bocce ball match; we ate and shopped alongside the city’s residents. For once, I didn’t feel like a tourist; I blended right in with the Romans. To me, that’s a true travel experience.

Bocce ball game | Tuscolano, Rome

Bocce ball game | Tuscolano, Rome

But back to City Guest House… I would definitely stay there again. It was an excellent choice for us with a toddler, too, as breakfast is included and is served in-house (some hotels in Rome and in other parts of Italy offer guests vouchers for meals at nearby restaurants instead). The breakfast lounge was on the same floor as our room, too – even more convenience.

Here are other highlights of City Guest House:

Our room.  The hotel occupies three floors (3rd to 5th) of a residential building. Our room was on the 5th floor (the top floor); it had two distinctly separate sleeping areas, which was perfect since my mom was with us. She had her space, we had ours. We also had a private bathroom with a spacious shower, and a terrace that spans the entire length of the room. The terrace is huge and is accessible through sliding glass doors from the two different sleeping areas. Since the weather was glorious while we were there, we definitely took advantage of the opportunity to be outside!

The lounge. It’s the same area where breakfast is served, but it’s accessible to guests all day long. It’s called a “rooftop terrace” but it’s covered so there really isn’t the feeling of being outside on the roof. Nevertheless, it’s funky, stylish, and welcoming, and an optional space for relaxing other than your room.

City Guest House Hotel | Rome

Free and reliable Wi-Fi. Ok, this was a big deal for me, especially since we had spent the previous week in Tuscany with no Internet connection. When I say the Wi-Fi was reliable, I mean it. We definitely took advantage of it, too, to Skype or FaceTime with family at home.

Airport shuttle. Staff at City Guest House will arrange for airport pick-up and drop-off. We chose this option on the day we were to fly home. It was a lot easier than lugging all of our bags, Lucia, her stroller, and her car seat on the Metro to Termini, and then on the Leonardo Express from Termini to Fiumicino (the only possible route from City Guest House to Fiumicino). Our ride showed up on time and we arrived at the airport with no problem. The cost for the four of us and for all of our bags was 60€ – money well spent, in my opinion.

If you’re looking for a place to stay in Rome and you want to be steps from the major attractions, City Guest House is not for you. However, if location is not your top priority, you want comfortable and affordable accommodations, friendly and helpful staff, and to be a short Metro ride away from the historic center, give City Guest House a go. I’m glad we took the chance.

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