Hotel Santa Maria
Trastevere, literally translated as "across the Tiber", is the most delightful and authentically Roman neighborhood of the city's historic center. Tourists flock here to stroll down the narrow cobblestone streets, visit artisan's shops, dine in one of the many excellent sidewalk trattorias, or just to watch the daily life of the locals.
What a pleasure to have discovered Hotel Santa Maria! Native Romans, Paolo and Valentina had the ingenious idea of transforming a plot of open land between the jumble of ancient apartment buildings into a unique one-story hotel with rooms looking out to two courtyards with orange trees. Taking advantage of his experience in architectural studies, Paolo designed the complex himself, then supervised the four-year construction.
The couple welcomes travelers as private house guests, serving a buffet breakfast with freshly baked cakes either out in the courtyard or in the breakfast room/wine bar. Before going out for dinner in one of many nearby favorite restaurants, guests may enjoy a glass of wine with nibbles from a nearby bakery. Bedrooms, each with its own entrance from the outside, are identically decorated in pale yellow, with a splash of color on matching bedspreads and curtains, and enjoy amenities such as air-conditioning, mini-bar, and TV. Garage parking is available.
Residenza Paolo VI
A wonderful alternative in the area of St Peter's basilica right within the Vatican City walls is the Residenza Paolo VI, special because of its unique position right at the edge of one of the world's most famous monuments. This seemingly modern building from the facade is actually of ancient origins, evident in sculpted Roman columns preserved within walls at the entrance.
A small front courtyard leads to the main door and elevator which takes you past Vatican office spaces and photos of past Popes to the third floor reception area. The classical music playing sets the calm mood of the place and half of the bedrooms are lined down two narrow hallways with white tiled floors, reminiscent of the monk's cells from times past.
New guestrooms are classically appointed with reproduction antiques, oriental rugs and chandeliers. The twenty nine rooms are concentrated on the two upper floors with the corner junior suites having privileged views through Bernini's colonnade to the Basilica's impressive facade. A wood-paneled breakfast room on the top floor offers a buffet in the morning as well as light meals, but the best feature is the rooftop terrace lined with six small tables, which overlooks a larger private terrace with fountain, and potted palms.
At this height, the view reaches the top of the colonnade straight out to the cupola, magnificently illuminated at night, for a superb close-up look at the sculpted details of Michelangelo's masterpiece. The friendly staff is ready to assist with local arrangements.