Booking your first trip to Italy and aren’t quite sure what to expect or the best way to book? I’ve got you covered. After two years of living and traveling around Italy, I’ve stayed at many wonderful hotels. In this guide, I’ll break down what you should expect from hotels in Italy, plus I’ll include booking tips and my top recommendations in different regions.
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What to Expect from Hotels in Italy
The quickest way to be disappointed with your accommodations is not managing expectations. Things are different in Europe, and Italy especially. Most of the differences are welcomed and part of the travel experience. For me, the ideal scenario is a balance between having a local experience while still maintaining some comforts of home.
I always giggle and shake my head when I read TripAdvisor reviews where a traveler in Rome complains the room was “small” and there was no elevator. Unless you have pretty deep pockets, your hotel room or Airbnb is going to be “small”. Those luxury rooms you see on Instagram are just that… luxury rooms on Instagram.
In Italy, this is a completely normal distance between the bed and the wall…
Don’t be surprised when there’s not an elevator…. and when there is one, it (along with everything else) will be small. This isn’t the Marriott in Texas. Understandably, if the idea of climbing 4 flights of stairs exhausted after a day of trekking cobblestoned streets in Rome doesn’t sound appealing, check that “elevator” box under “facilities” and filter those properties out. Also, keep in mind that European floor levels start with zero, so the ground floor is 0 not 1.
Breakfast is usually included at most hotels in Italy. However, Italians aren’t crazy about eggs for breakfast. While some hotels in Italy will cater to tourists and have the full breakfast spread, you should expect yogurts, pastries, cornetti (croissants), seasonal fruit and coffee. Assuredly there will be coffee!
This breakfast from my hotel in Sorrento still ranks as one of the most impressive spreads I’ve seen.
Air conditioning! Don’t assume a hotel or an Airbnb has air conditioning. You’ll definitely want to check that box on those filters if you’re visiting during the summer. Italy can be sweltering and AC is a nice amenity to come back to after a long day of sightseeing.
I’m just going to tell you right now, wifi is not one of Italy’s strong suits. It might only work in the lobby and it probably won’t be as fast as what you’re used to having at home. Also expect some weird log in situation from an outside provider because the old man that has been running this hotel for 30 years in not interested in setting up his own wifi.
It’s not uncommon for the receptionist to keep your key when you leave the hotel. This is especially the case for older hotels with actual metal keys and not a key card.
Booking.com and TripAdvisor are two of my go to sites when searching hotels in Italy. I like that you can look at “Traveler’s Photos” on TripAdvisor to get a true sense of the hotel (not just the edited ones by management).
I like to book with booking.com because you can see all the different kinds of rooms they offer, photos and cancelation options in the grid. I always use the map layout feature on booking.com and sometimes they will have a better cancelation policy. Booking.com is also great for smaller properties or B&Bs that don’t have a website.
Be sure to compare against booking direct. The price can be cheaper and sometimes a free promotion is included. I’ve gotten free airport transfers, breakfast and upgrades for booking direct. However, sometimes it can be a hassle to book direct with a smaller property. Prepare to exchange a few emails and they’ll want you to email them your credit card number or call.
To really get the best deals on hotels in Italy, stay during the off season or shoulder season. I stayed at a hotel in Venice in January for 95 euro, compared to the 450 euro the exact room goes for in July!
I almost always travel with my dog Alfie in Italy. If you have a dog, be sure to email the hotel before you book and tell them so you both know what to expect. Sometimes there’s a fee and sometimes they prefer to put you in a room with hardwood floors.
My Personal Favorite Hotels in Italy
These are all hotels or Airbnbs that I have personally stayed at would recommend. I chose to stay at each of these accommodation and paid out of my own pocket.
For an amazing view of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, choose Tourist House Ricci. Be sure to book the “Superior One Bedroom Apartment” in a separate building.
I’ve stayed at Hotel Italia Siena in Siena twice. They have great customer service, ample free street parking and are very dog friendly. They provide a dog bed, water bowls and treats!
Borgo Il Melone is an excellent choice near Cortona. The property has a pool and you can still enjoy the countryside, but it’s only 2 km from the town of Cortona.
If you want a country experience, choose to stay in a villa or agriturismo for delicious and local food. Locanda Rosati sources all their food for their family style dinners from local farms around Orvieto. The rooms are a cozy atmosphere, but still modern.
For great central location in Rome, I’ve stayed at 9 Hotel Cesari several times. I’ve been coming back for their rooftop breakfast room and bar, nice views and friendly customer service.
Hotel Teatro Pace also has an excellent location near Piazza Navona. I chose to stay here for their affordable singles on a solo trip (no lift, but at least the spiral staircases are pretty).
I’ve also stayed at this quirky guesthouse in Trastevere. It’s the kind of place where the owner sits at the breakfast table with you, sharing insider tips and travel stories. They also have a cute little dachshund that Alfie quite enjoyed meeting.
Also Read: 10 Airbnbs with a Terrace in Rome
Amalfi Coast Area
I have a slight obsession with Positano and have visited several times as it’s only about 90 minutes away. While there are many amazing choices for all different budgets, Dimora del Podesta is the perfect guesthouse pick and Casa Albertina is nice hotel with stunning views.
Also Read: Where to Stay in Positano
Of all the places I’ve stayed in Italy, the breakfast and views at Surriento Suites are still memorable. Read my full review of this amazing bed and breakfast in Sorrento here. You can also book this one on Airbnb.
In Capri, Hotel Weber Ambassador has a beautiful view of Marina Piccola and a free shuttle up to the main town center. It’s an easy walk down to the beach, but Alfie preferred to relax on the terrace…
A masseria is a similar concept as an agritourismo. Masseria Il Frantoio is still one of the best meals I’ve had in Italy since moving here. Every single ingredient was either from their organic farm or sourced from somewhere nearby in Puglia. The owner says he doesn’t think of the property as a hotel, but as his home that’s he’s sharing.
For an AirBnb in the charming town of Ostuni, choose this one for a special rooftop terrace, authentic decor and excellent location. The staircase up to the studio is a little steep, so it might not be the best choice for everyone though. This host was also super sweet!
The staff at Hotel Bisanzio really made our stay in Venice memorable. They were so kind and upgraded us to a terrace room overlooking the courtyard because we had our dog, Alfie. The room was wonderful and the hotel is in the perfect location. It’s walking distance to everything, yet it still feels quiet and secluded.