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Italy Q&A: Accommodation Options for a July Trip

This is one of my Italy Q&A posts. Antoinette says:

My family will be going to Italy for the the whole month of July and I’m trying to find good family hotels in the following places:

  • Centre of Rome
  • Another one in downtown Campobasso (Molise)
  • One more in Cosenza – near Amantea (Calabria)
  • And finally one in Sicily near the Lipari islands

Also, we need to rent a car as we will be driving from Rome all the way down to Sicily – and so I would like to know what car rental company you would recommend.

In case you need to know, my two daughters are 10 and 12.

Thanks for the email, Antoinette, and what a great trip – a whole month in Italy! It also looks like you’re doing quite an untraditional trip, hitting Rome and points South rather than Florence and Venice, which is cool. In general, the good news is that this means you’ll probably have better luck finding more inexpensive accommodation options – unfortunately, the bad news is that you’ll find fewer options overall, especially on the internet.

For instance, while you can easily find information about hotels in Rome, it may be harder to find hotels listings online for less-visited towns. We do have listings for hotels in Cosenza, however, so there’s a start! The town of Campobasso isn’t listed on the master list of Italy hotels, although I found a place you can search for hotels in Campobasso anyway, using a quirk in the searching system. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Begin your search here for a hotel in a city that is listed, like Rome.
  2. Enter your travel information in the search box in the upper right-hand corner of the page and click the “Search” button.
  3. The next page you get to will give you more options with which to narrow your search (such as what parts of Rome you want to look in, what your price range is, and looking at hotels with both two and three stars), so you can finesse your hotel search accordingly.
  4. At the top left of the page, you’ll see your basic search information with a link on the word “Modify” – if you click on the word “Modify” you can enter a different city name in place of Rome – like Campobasso.
  5. Change the travel information accordingly for the time you’ll be in Campobasso and then you’ll get the listings for the hotels in Campobasso (if they exist).

It’s a little inelegant, but it’ll get the job done – and BootsnAll partners with hotel booking providers who usually have some of the best rates you’ll find, so you can book with confidence. I haven’t visited Campobasso, Cosenza or Sicily personally, so I’m not able to offer recommendations for hotels in any of those locations, but in Rome I did visit several hotels and hostels on my last trip through the city. All the properties I visited were around the Termini train station – it’s mostly a safe area, but with kids especially I’d recommend sticking to the northeast area. Termini is a big bus stop for many of the bus lines that run through Rome, so it’s really easy to get from the hotels in that area to anywhere you want to go in the city.

If you’re looking for a more budget experience, you could book the two adjoining private triple rooms at M&J Place Hostel on Via Solferino. It’s a fun and social atmosphere, and when I was there a family group (with kids) had booked those two rooms. One drawback is that the rooms are right off the reception area, which is open 24 hours a day and can get a little noisy – so if you’re light sleepers it could be tough to block out the noise from the front desk. M&J is also popular with backpackers, which you may or may not think is an appropriate environment for your kids. There was nothing untoward going on there, don’t get me wrong – but it is a hostel that’s popular with young travelers who like going out for pub crawls and the like.

Not far from M&J there are a few budget hotels (in the one- to two-star range) which I visited – though there are countless more all the way up to the five-star range within spitting distance of the train station. In July you might have more trouble finding accommodation without booking ahead, but if you’re researching ahead of time you’ll have no shortage of choices. Some of the places I visited were:

  • Hotel Cervia – They were renovating some of the rooms when I visited, but they were only about a week or two away from being done with that project. They were super nice, and they even have a hotel dog!
  • Hotel Positano – Short walk from Roma Termini, they had a few dorm-style rooms all on one floor, and private hotel rooms everywhere else.
  • Hotel Continentale – In the same building as Hotel Positano, no dorm rooms.
  • Mosaic Hostel – Much quieter than your standard hostel, and geared toward families with private rooms – but no air conditioning, which could be awful in Rome in July.

Rome is one of those places that’s really spread out, with the main sights not really being within easy walking distance of each other (well, some are, but many aren’t). So when you say you want to stay in “central Rome” that could mean something different depending on who you’re talking with. If staying near the train station in one of the places I’ve mentioned isn’t what you had in mind, you can hunt for a Rome hotel in whatever neighborhood you’d like to stay in. Remember that you’ll pay much more to be within walking distance of any of the sights, however.

As for your other questions, I had other emails about them as well – so check out my advice for Italy car rentals as well as traveling with kids in Italy. Let me know if you have other questions, and have a great trip!