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Our Experience Staying in an AirBnB in Rome

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Welcome to my series on our 10-day trip to Rome and India where I’m sharing a peek into our trip — where we went, what we learned, and how we saved money. For details on why we went to Rome and India, read this post.

Since there were six of us going to Rome and India on this trip — two couples and two kids — we realized that it might be cheaper and smarter to split an AirBnB apartment rental together than to get multiple hotel rooms. It’s not something we’ve done much before, but we ended up loving this option!

I didn’t get any photos in the actual apartment, but you can see photos of the inside here. It was the perfect arrangement for all of us.

Jesse and I took one bedroom and the bathroom closest to it and Jamie and Drew took one bedroom and their kids shared the other bedroom and then they all shared the other bathroom.

The apartment had this old elevator that was so fun to use! And the views out the windows were gorgeous (see the photo at the top of the post!)

The apartment was situated right in the heart of the Jewish quarter and we were able to walk to the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Vatican City, the Spanish Steps, and more from it. Plus, within a few blocks, there were many different shops, cafes, and restaurants.

(The view out our window one morning — it was so idyllic!)

The apartment was extremely clean and they had tea and coffee on the counter and water bottles, juice, fruit, and milk in the fridge. Plus, they had towels, soaps, and shampoos in every room — just like a nice hotel! And the hosts were very gracious.

The only two issues I would point out that we had were:

1) They asked us to pay an additional $42 tourist tax when we arrived. They hadn’t mentioned this to us before and they asked for it to be in cash. We felt a little bothered that they hadn’t mentioned this and didn’t include it in the apartment fees. However, it is on their site, so it’s possible we just missed it there when we booked. And it’s possible that the government requires this to be collected separately and that it can’t be collected as part of the AirBnB fees. But I still would have appreciated it if they would have mentioned it and let us know they would need it in cash when we checked in.

2) The bathtub leaked when we drained it. We let them know and they came to check on it and offered to call someone to come fix it, but it was the second day and we just decided that Jesse and I would take “sink baths” (there wasn’t a shower in our bathroom — though there was a sprayer in the bathtub). They were very gracious and apologetic about this and I’m guessing they got it fixed as soon as we left!

Many of the buildings in the Jewish Quarter had little gold plates in front of them with names of Jews who were sent to the concentration camps during the Holocaust. It was so sad and such a poignant reminder of the turmoil and heartache from history that these buildings could recount if their walls could talk.

Rome has so many fun outdoor cafes and restaurants!

We’ve only splurged on two meals on our entire trip and this was one of them! We went to Ba’Ghetto Milky — which was just a few blocks from our apartment and specializes in Roman Jewish Cuisine and Middle Eastern Cuisine. We loved it and the service was fantastic!

Fried artichoke hearts are really common on most of the menus and it’s one of the things I fondly remember from my time in Rome!

My salad was so delicious — I was just sad I couldn’t finish all of it!

But of course, I had to save room for Tiramisu! 🙂

All in all, we LOVED going the AirBnB route and not only was it very economical, it also allowed us to feel a little bit more like we were getting a true Rome experience by staying in such a beautiful old building and area!

Have you ever stayed in an AirBnB rental? We haven’t done this much, but I think it’s something we’ll definitely consider doing in the future since this worked out so well!

I’ll be back tomorrow with a post all about our time in Rome — where we went, what we learned, and how we did it on a small budget!

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  • Melissa H says:

    We stayed at Air BnB while in Thailand and all accomodations were great. However it was a struggle to find where we needed to go. We would show the taxi driver our address and on a couple occasions they were like I don’t know what/where that is. Very disturbing when you don’t speak the language, etc.

  • Robin says:

    I have, also, stayed at an AirBNB in Rome and the cash tourist tax is definitely a thing there, along with many cities in Italy. Hosts definitely need to be up front about it. There are so many sections on AirBNB listing that I usually end up re-reading them about 5 times to make sure I haven’t missed anything.

    • Lynn says:

      Agree. The cash tourist tax is something we’ve run into before as well. We’ve found it’s always in the information somewhere, just maybe not obvious. I think sometimes we become used to airline ticket prices that have all taxes and fees included in the price that we forget that not all markets/industries function the same.

    • Terri says:

      Same here. We stayed in an amazing AirBNB in Venice. We had a 2 bed 2 bath, beautiful apartment to ourselves right off San Marco Square in the heart of shops and restaurants and it was cheaper than getting 2 hotel rooms. And yes, the tax is a thing in Italy and many other European countries. We are staying at a HomeAway in Lisbon, Portugal over Thanksgiving, and it has the same type of tax up front in cash.

    • I know that I’m going to read the listing a LOT more carefully next time now that I know!

  • Susan says:

    Love your pictures! The food looks wonderful! I don’t think I would have handled the bathtub leak as well as you guys did! I don’t deal well when basic things don’t work properly. However, I guess it was better to have a bathtub issue then a toilet issue.

    • Yes! I’m grateful it wasn’t a toilet issue! And when we went to South Africa, we didn’t have electricity or hot water for much of the time we were there — and we knew we were heading to India where our bathroom accommodations would be much a lot more primitive, so we figured this would be great preparation!

  • Guest says:

    Haven’t ever used Air BNB but we’ve used VRBO many times and enjoy that when traveling. Sounds like your setup was better than the hotels we stayed in during our trip to Rome in grad school. Unfortunately my memories of Rome are not fantastic because it was crazy hot with no air conditioning and one of my group was pick pocketed. I loved the rest of Italy so I probably just need to give Rome another go. 🙂

    Also, I LOVE fried artichokes. It continues to boggle my mind how sweet they become when fried!

    • We’ve heard you have to be careful of pick-pocketing — I’m so sorry your group experienced that! And not having air conditioning or being crazy hot can definitely ruin an experience!

  • Gabrielle Lynas says:

    We also did an AirBnB right down the street from the Colisseum. Great experience and felt like we were immersed as locals. Rome is a beautiful city and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there or anywhere else utilizing AirBnB!

  • Chanda says:

    We love using VRBO, which is similar to Airbnb, but you always have the whole unit to your self and it is almost always someone’s second property not their primary residence (Airbnb can often be a room in a home where someone is still present in the home, or they live there but find somewhere else to sleep while you stay in their rooms.). I always read reviews thoroughly, look closely at pictures,and ask lots of questions. We have been thrilled every time with great locations, great accomodations, and amazing prices!

  • Gina says:

    Stayed in one in Houston over the past week. It was incredible! 2 bedrooms for $60 a night and we had free reign of the house (except master bedroom). So much better than the first experience I had in one.

  • Ruth firl says:

    I’m so glad you tried out Airbnb.
    My husband and I have recently opened our basement apartment up to Airbnb and have met many wonderful people.
    It is a great community.

  • Jen says:

    We pretty much always stay at Airbnb if we are going to be somewhere for more than a night. It is more economical for us because we can prepare some of our meals at the house. It is also really nice to have the extra space and experience a different neighborhood outside of where hotels are located.

  • Heather says:

    Airbnb is the way to go with a family and/or if you are wanting save money. For kids, it’s soooo nice for them to have an apartment or house, maybe even a little yard, to run around in. Much better than being cooped up with kids in a hotel.

    For saving money, even if the rental price isn’t much cheaper than a hotel, you save so much by having a kitchen and being able to avoid a lot of eating out. Also, if there is a washer & dryer you can pack less for your trip and have the freedom of travelling light!

    We used three different Airbnb’s on a 2 week trip to France last summer with our 4 kids. We also had a few snafus (broken dryer), but would still do it again. Haven’t tried VRBO, but it sounds like it has the same advantages.

    I’d rather do a hotel for one night stays, though, as it is a little simpler.

  • Addy says:

    We love staying in Airbnb’s and we always use the option of having the entire place to ourselves. Most recently we stayed in a 5 bedroom, 5 bath house on a wildlife estate in Kenya for about $200/night. There were 11 of us – 4 adults and 7 kids – which made this option a perfect choice. The house was as nice and modern as anything in you would find in the US, but there were a couple of little quirks. First, we had to bring our own drinking water (which we had planned for) and second, apparently top sheets and wash cloths are not common there. Had I read the comments more thoroughly, I would have seen that previous US guests had mentioned both of those things, but it was really no big deal. Our next Airbnb adventure is in a tiny house in Florida!

  • Lana says:

    Our daughter’s family are missionaries in Germany and they live downtown in a gorgeous apartment that looks very much like the one where you stayed. They have a shared green space in the back and have a third floor terrace that spans the width of the apartment. Their street is beautiful and quiet and they have a German bakery right down the block.

    Our last Airbnb experience was less than stellar. It was dirty and bug infested and there was so much decorative junk on every surface that you couldn’t even find a place to set your phone down. The bedroom was cooled by an very loud window unit that kept us up all night. We haven’t yet decided to risk another stay since the place had a five star rating which it obviously was not.

    • Yuck — I’m so sorry you had such a bad AirBnB experience — especially on the 5-star rating! 🙁 Yikes and good to know.

      And your daughter’s apartment sounds absolutely amazing!!

  • Jessica says:

    We’ve stayed in several, in several different cities in the US. Loved them all <3

    My mom actually is an AirBnB host now in Gunnison Colorado if you're ever up that way. Her house is GORGEOUS.

  • Kerri says:

    Our AirBNB stay was in New York a few years ago. We were aghast at the prices for Manhattan hotel rooms and we were staying several nights, so my husband found a listing in Queens for $50 per night for a single room in an apartment with a shared bathroom. Like you, we did have a problem when we arrived: the lock on our door was broken. The owners were mother and son Bosnian refugees and the son responded to our problem immediately. He and his mom gave us a free bottle of wine for our troubles, since the repair took awhile. Everything else went smoothly. We really felt like New Yorkers because we were in a real neighborhood with access to a full kitchen where we could prepare meals. We rode the subway and used the extra transportation time to people-watch. I’d definitely do it again.

    • I love it! It sounds like you had a great trip!

    • Julie says:

      We had a lovely stay in Manhattan with our children; possibly the price was so low since we made reservations only a couple days in advance. It was helpful that my husband and I had been to NYC a couple years earlier and had a good feel of the city and where we wanted to go with the children.

      Our AirBNB stay in Onekama, Michigan was nice but I didn’t enjoy the cleaning required before we left; it this required everywhere? On a happy note, we loved the village of Onekama and consider it the Hamptons of Michigan.

      • Jordan says:

        Different host have different requirements for how they want the lodgings left. It is typical to have to do some tidying but usually you can’t have to do too much cleaning. I’ve stayed in lots of AirBnBs and if you know how to look you can find really great deals on really nice accommodations! -Jordan, MSM Team

  • Sarah says:

    We have loved many HomeAway and VRBO rentals. We’ve never done AirBNB as every time I go to search, I haven’t found their filters as helpful. Fir example, you can’t search waterfront.

  • Lori says:

    Hotel rooms to accommodate my family of 4 are hard to come by in Italy. We used AirBnB in Florence, Sorrento and Rome.
    I quickly leaned that is best to use the instant booking option and read through their cancellation policy closely. It’s different for every place.
    Reading through previous user reviews can help you get a feel for a place.
    We found small tokens that represented our city. We have them to our hosts, and I’m so glad we did! They knew we were bringing our kids, so one place stocked the pantry with a bottle of wine for the grown ups and a juice for our kids.
    We would find a grocery store closed to our apartment so that we could but snacks and food for breakfast. It made food so much more economical and we feel like it was an added cultural experience! Did you know there is a grocery store across the Piazza at the Pantheon?

  • Robyn says:

    We stayed at a HomeAway rental this year for a few days and really enjoyed the experience. We appreciated having a place to go and be when we were done sightseeing for the day. We had access to a pool (shared, but we never saw anyone else), so we’d let the kids swim while we sat in the courtyard and relaxed. We figured having breakfasts and dinners at “home” helped make up for the extra cost (over a budget motel room). The hostess was thoughtful and pleasant, and we were just amazed at how she’d thought of everything anyone could possibly want and had it available in an easy-to-find place. I think any time we’re taking an urban type vacation where camping isn’t a good option, we’ll look for a HomeAway rental again.
    Just today a friend of mine shared about a terrible experience she had with AirBnB and is still trying to get resolution on. The rental wasn’t as described, lots of issues, and when she politely tried to resolve the problems the host demanded she leave immediately and sent a strange man to watch them and enforce the order. It’s such a bizarre story I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t know this friend to be an honest person. It’s definitely turned me off AirBnB for good. She’s shared her story here:

  • Shara says:

    We have been Airbnb hosts of our lovely 1865 farmhouse here in Minnesota since August and wonder why we didn’t do it sooner! (Especially during the Super Bowl!) We love meeting people from all over the world, our house has never stayed cleaner and the extra cash is pretty sweet too! If you are ever in the Twin Cities area, look us up! “Come for the bed-stay for the bathroom” We’d love to host you!!

  • Del says:

    As a family already living overseas while serving with a non-profit, we have used airbnb, booking, and holiday lettings. While there have been a few bumps here and there, overall we have had positive experiences and have stayed in some very unique places. We have saved a lot of money not just on lodging costs, but also on food as we normally eat in or pack two meals. Sometimes we go to a nearby grocery store and buy “easy to make food” for the third meal. It is especially nice to have room to spread out and to not have to share a room with one of our children. 🙂 It allows more flexibility for varying bed times/wake up times. We’ve also appreciated washing machines as it means less to pack.

    It is very important to read all information (more than once!) and to read reviews. Yes, an extra tax (sometimes in cash) is not uncommon around Europe, but it is important for them to note this. We had a recent experience where even a hotel wanted the tax in cash and would not include it in the room cost, so there must be a law/rule about this in some places.

    We would not have been able to afford to go on trips if it weren’t for these types of rentals, so we’re very thankful for them!

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