First time Rome visitor looking for hotel and "can't miss" restaurant recs

My wife and I are planning a 6 day trip to Rome end of May, sandwiched around visit to Paris. While been to many other places in the northern half of Italy over the years, the only other time in Rome was more than 35 years ago right after college, so we are basically first-time visitors.

Looking for a) suggestions for a hotel [preferably in the $200 - $350 / night range] and also best area(s) to stay in as a “first-time” visitor, and b) suggestions for “shouldn’t miss” restaurants at all price levels. Definitely looking for a mix of traditional/old school, as well as maybe a couple more recent/trendy, though in all cases Roman/Italian focused vs. more cosmopolitan. FYI, neither of us are big on offal.

I was in Rome over Thanksgiving with my cousin who had never been there before. I wrote it all up. A couple of places were disappointing to me (including the fancy/stuffy place we went for Thanksgiving dinner), but most of it was pretty fantastic. I wrote it all up: [Rome] Trip report in bites - #17 by ninkat

Pizza in Rome is really a night time thing (though by the slice in bakeries for basically take out is a fine lunch, IMO). Some pizzerias open at lunch, but catering mostly to tourist crowd. One we didn’t get to (really off the beaten track but great pizza, only see locals there) Pizzeria Ostiense.

I don’t know a thing about hotels, as I try to stay somewhere near Piazza Navona/Campo de Fiori, my preference is to stay in one of the little streets or alleys in that area. More recently by the Roscioli families restaurants, as I tend to like their caffe for morning coffee and their bakery for pizza/snacks. Also, it’s near the river where I like to go for my morning runs.

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I liked staying at the Fifteen Keys, which isn’t too far from Termini Station.
My room was around $300 a night. Prices may have gone up.
If I was choosing by neighbourhood, I would probably prefer staying a little closer to the Spanish Steps, Travestere or the Jewish Ghetto. I chose the Fifteen Keys because I wanted a Boutique Hotel that was walking distance from the main train station on that trip.

There’s a food hall called Mercato Centrale, attached to Termini Station, which orders Bonci pizza by the slice, as well as round pizzas. Those were the best pizzas I found on my trip in 2017.

My only high end meal in Rome was at Roscioli, which I definitely recommend .
I want to visit Armando al Pantheon some day.

Lots of threads on this board.
Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina [Rome, Centro Storico]

Rome recommendations

[Rome] Trip report in bites

Armando al Pantheon [Rome, Centro Storico]

Time flies.

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Thanks for the suggestionshad already added Roscioli and Armando Al Pantheon to my research list, so good to hear more votes

Much thx ninkat. Your write-up already in an open tab in my browser, but I had not yet gotten through it!

Our go-to has been the Albergo del Senato, but I checked on line and it seems to be both mostly sold out and around $450/night. If it was me, and the price was doable, I’d attempt a phone call or other direct communication anyway & see if they could figure something out. Its a really nice place, next to the Pantheon & only blocks away from Armando al Pantheon. Great roof deck with drinks too, but only for those staying at hotel. I’d also take a look at airbnb/VRBO type apt. rentals in this area.
We’ve stayed at a bunch of other places in various areas of Rome, but none that I think are suitable for first timers who want to be centrally located. However, if you otherwise strike out, take a look at the 3 Aventino hotels. ( All 3 are within a block of each other in a residential neighborhood. They problem is that they’re on a hill, making any walking a little tough. They seem to have availability and are well within your. price parameters, but will probably require an Uber to sites, restaurants, etc. Walkable to Testaccio or even the Pantheon or Trastevere if you’re good walkers.
Sorry I couldnt be of more help on the hotels. I’ll look back at some of the restaurants we loved that werent offal based :wink: to see what I can recommend.


I’ve stayed a few times at Donna Camilla Savelli as I like having breakfast in the beautiful courtyard and I like it’s slightly out-of-the-way location. I also like Hotel Nerva, in ancient Rome close to Monti, again on a sort of tucked away street.

I hit the usual spots (that were open) this past August: Cesare, Roscioli, Pizzeria Emma which can be hit or miss but I’ve only had one not-so-great experience, Antico Arco. Except for Roscioli, I had been to all these restaurants before, so I guess not much in the of exploration. In the past have enjoyed Il Sorpasso, Retrobottega, Armando several times though it’s been years, L’Arcangelo (one amazing lunch eight? years ago or more). Had some really good gelato at Otaleg, kind of a brunch gelato as I was walking by late morning and decided to pop in.


Although I ended up canceling the trip, I had booked at Relais Giulia which is on one of my favorite streets in Rome. The Washington Post had an article about that (wonderful) neighborhood, Regola. It’s near the Tiber, Campo di Fiori, and Navona. Lots of great walking streets with small stores and craft shops. Don’t know how Covid has impacted that.

I’ve rented an apartment in that area too but it no longer seems listed. Parione is the other neighborhood. I much prefer those areas to near the Spanish Steps. Trastevere can be fun too.

And, Andy, just returned from Barcelona and am dreaming about Quim’s foie gras with the mushrooms and onions!!


We spent 10 days in Rome last Spring and my favorite meal was lunch at Colline Emiliane. Even though it is not traditional Roman food, every dish was excellent as was the service. Reservations are a must.


I’ve stayed at 2 of the 3 Aventino hotels and they were lovely! It is definitely not ideal to have to walk up the hill post-dinner to get home but in general we found them pretty easy to walk from - and lots of good food options right next door in Testaccio.


Sofitel Roma Villa Borghese Hotel.

Recently remodeled, and the staff was accommodating to the point of being embarrassing. Heated bathroom floors and fabulous views were nice bonuses. Breakfast buffet, while a buffet, was also splendid, and a few days we even had pastries from Linari’s.