This is the first time we have visited Rome and booking a hotel is always chancey, but reading the mainly good reviews about River Palace Hotel on Via Flaminia we decided to give it a go and booked our room via Expedia, and I'm glad we did. The hotel caters for all sorts of visitors, during our stay there were Italians, Germans, Americans and British. The hotel is located in an excellent location on a one way street and a tram line. The hotel is oddly arranged between two buildings, one very old and one more modern. You had to get the lift to the first floor, then walk 'into building no.2' to then access floors 2 upwards. You can take the lift (which is tiny) or walk the pretty marble stairs which is what we did most of the time.
Upon arrival the staff were very helpful and friendly, gave us a map of Rome and highlighted the best tourist areas. We were kindly given a free room upgrade from Superior to Deluxe and stayed on the fourth floor, which was a good start to our Rome break. The hotel decor by the main reception is pretty & 'old school' but the rest of the interior of the hotel could do with a refurb as it does look a little tired i.e redecoration of walls & replacing the well trodden carpet. The room was very small. Be aware that due to the small room there is limited hanging and drawer space, so don't cram the suitcase full of clothes as you'll have no-where to store them all. However, the room was very well equiped with a stocked mini-bar, glasses, snacks, bottle opener, d-gowns, slippers, ginormous bed (must have been a Queen), matress was firm & comfy. There was quiet A/C in the room which kept the room at a permanent warm temperature all the time which was good. The bathroom was very pretty, all pink marble, with a large hand wash basin, bidet, toiletries, hairdrier, bath with shower above; the best bit however was the amazing shower - roasting hot water at any time and the water pressure was fabulous. One interesting feature was that I had a bath and a large dead ant came out the tap! The bathroom again did need some refurb attention, such as the grouting and clear silicon sealant hanging off from the shower door. The bedroom and bathroom was incredibly clean, which is very important. The room had views of the one-way street outside and there are two windows. The windows did open wide fully and had no window restrictors on them (this couldn't happen in the UK due to h&s) but I loved the fact you could open them wide and people watch below, plus ventilate the bathroom when needed. The ceiling of our room was painted and was very pretty but there was a smoke/heat detector flashing red and green right above our bed in the painted ceiling which made the room look like a disco in the dark! The street is very busy outside with commuters & shoppers, and the no.2 tram terminates just outside the hotel. Some people I notice on here stated the tram was noisy but we didn't think so - not compared to the other noises going on inside the hotel. The windows are double glazed UPVC and keep most noise out. Another bonus is that aswell as voile for privacy from the building opposite, there are also blackout curtains and then nice heavy curtains on the inside with pelmet, so you can sleep without the sun shining through in the morning. The beds were always crisply made up every day, and left the room neat & tidy, the housekeeping even folded my clothes on the bed! Early evening housekeeping comes round & gives each room an accurate weather forecast for the next day and a bag of tasty chocolates. There is also a safe for your passports etc and sky tv, although no English chanels you can get MTV and free live UK Premierleague football matches (with Italian commentry). There is free wi-fi available although during most of our stay the signal was non existant in our room but good in the bar, but on the last day there appeared to be a different signal which was very strong in our room. The reception give you the password. There was adequate electrical sockets in the room so we could easily charge up phones/camera battery etc with your adapter.
Our only real gripe/complaint about the hotel was the various loud noises! Other guests don't seem to be mindful that there are actually people inside rooms and have full on convos outside your room in the corridor. It must be awful if your room is on the main thoroughfare to the bar/breakfast room. There were various banging noises from above, next door, below, and footsteps going up and down the marble stairs, so much so they would awaken you. The emergency exit doors to the stairs were constantly banging heavily shut all times of the night, and our room was right next door to this. In the morning, the maids/housekeeping had a wall mounted internal telephone in the corridor just outside our room, which kept ringing all the time, every day, so no chance of a decent lie in from say 8am. Our first night there was also a drunken Italian man singing sort of opera in the street below at 3am, which was not the best after our flight! Although there is not much the hotel can do about the 'people' noises, I think a suggestion could be to put up some notices on all the fire doors and in the corridors to remind people to be considerate to others, especially between 11pm - 8am.
The breakfast facilities were fabulous; yoghurts, fruits, cereals, juices, pastries, little cakes, salmon, meats, cheeses and hot scrambled egg, cooked ham, diy toast etc. The coffee was disappointing considering everything else tasted very good and it was Rome! You could have as much as you liked and really fuelled you for the busy day ahead. There was even Prosecco too! The breakfast room was very nice, with fabric type stripes on the walls and two pretty ornate gold mirrors at one end. The tables were well placed in the space with neatrly folded crisp linen napkins and friendly staff.
The bar in the evening was also fabulous; half price cocktails from 6-10pm, so they were originally 10 euros down to 5 euros each - bargain. They were very nice, very alcoholic and strong = perfection! The 'bar snacks' you may have seen mentioned before in previous write ups were also lovely, and if you'd had a full on lunch, you could survive the night with these - olives, pistachios, tomato & bruschetta, little volauvants, things on bread - really tasty. The bar wasn't especially busy on the whole although at times you'd have to share seating areas with other guests. In the main seating area there are very comfy sofas and cushions, and a lovely grand piano in the corner, which sadly no-one played, which could of made a really good ambience. The bar & seating area was pretty, with marble floor and marble columns that made the area feel open and comfy.
The location of this hotel is PERFECT for sightseeing and infact you are actually staying in the more upmarket part of Rome. Turn right and roughly 100m up the road is Piazza del Popolo, which is very pretty with the fountain and statues and the main square to the lovely shops. In the square there is the Porta del Popolo (by Michaelangelo) and the Santa Maria church - which is beautiful inside, albiet miserable stern attendants! There are three roads off from the square, and from there you'll find Gucci, Fendi, Armani, Prada, Versace, Lois Vuitton, Herve Lager, Chanel etc plus smaller and cheaper boutiques, and lovely Italian leather shops. The Italian shops hold a yearly sale from roughly 4th Jan for two weeks only, check out the 'Saldi' (sale) signs in the shop windows and you can grab a bargain. The square always has police there at night and feels very safe. If you continue along these roads using a map you will find The Spanish Steps. The hotel is also right next to the Villa Borghese gardens, which are a must visit and upon strolling around you'll come across pretty statues, fountains, cafes, museums etc. Next to the hotel (as you go out turn left) is a bank & ATM which is handy, and opposite and across the road is a tabac type tiny shop that sells transport tickets (with a large 'T' outside), one ticket does all - tram or underground (Metro) or bus for 100minutes of travel and is 1.50 euro. There is also a little shop close by this one that sells all sorts of dried pasta, bottles of water and Prosseco/beer for the hotel room (cheaper than minibar). Right by the Piazza del Popolo is the Metro (tube) and you can get on/off here and visit anywhere in the guide books. We took it every day to see the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona (my favourite place) Colloseum etc. To get to The Vatican, if you turn left out of the hotel and walk down the road, cross a road an outside a large white building is the bus/tram stop. You can get on the no.19 (bus or tram) to The Vatican, or similarly get the Metro, as the stop is also very close. St Peters Basilica was fantastic but there were big ques even in January to bag check through security, so go early. Also go to The Vatican Museum (up the hill) that houses the Sistine Chapel, which was fabulous. There were long ques at the Colosseum and Roman & Imperial Forum, and it was very blustery in that part of Rome so take a good coat in winter months.
Finding places to eat in the evening was challenging, as most places that looked good outside (menu & price) were completely full with Italians (must be good!). However, using the guide book and by chance, from the main three streets from Piazza del Popolo we found these three delights that did the best tastiest Italian food and not too pricey - Al 34 (number 34 via Mario de Fiori), Il Brillo Parlante (number 12 via della Fontanella) and a lovely Trattoria - La Buca di Ripetta (number 36 Via di Ripetta) which did gorgeous homemade pasta dishes. It is mindful in saying that I learnt some Italian phrases like "do you have a table for two please" etc but honestly there is no need because all restaurants/trattorias we visited for lunch or dinner had very good English speaking skills and 90% menus have the Italian dish and the English underneath.
Things to watch out for on your trip are the hawkers/street sellers. Than can be VERY aggressive and target all tourists, trying to sell toys that fly in the air, brollies etc. The two to watch out for are in the Piazza del Popolo - the seller gives the lady a rose 'for free' then follows you relentlessly until you then give him a 'tip'. Also on the Metro (tube) there are singers and/or violinists with an amplifier, they'll do a few tunes and go round begging, then they'll get off and onto the next train etc. Outside all of the tourist places there are men selling fake designer bags, begging homeless and people selling 'tour guides' around attractions; my advice is to buy tickets in the formal way and don't be put off by outside guides yelling "You english?" and striding over to you. Also, there are no public toilets that I saw generally about Rome, only in the tourist area locations themselves.
Our trip from the Rome F. airport to the hotel was interesting as we got a shuttle bus/shared minibus with two other holiday makers and it was 30 euros flat rate all in for the two of us. Go to the ticket office at the airport train station and it's on the right hand side in a booth. It made for an interesting journey and we were unfortunately dropped off last at our hotel, so we were in the minibus for roughly an hour, but we did get to see all the sights - good and bad, including Colosseum etc. The driving was 'interesting', slightly crazy (!!) and very bumpy in the minibus!!! For our return journey from the hotel to the airport we decided on booking a private hire taxi via the hotel, which turned out to be a good idea. We met Mr Alessandro Marconi, our driver, who was lovely, spoke excellent English, and had a lovely black Mercedes with leather seats, was 30 mins early (!) and drove us to the airport in style. No crazy driving and very friendly and reliable. I would recommend him. Cost was 55 euros which we were happy to pay, journey from hotel to airport was about 30mins and he knew exactly what terminal we needed to be at due to our travel operator and dropped us off at the departures entrance, his details are - email@example.com and +39 3328 60 88 148. You can book him to pick you up or drop you off - highly recommended!
The hotel room cost via Expedia DID NOT include a room tax charge per person, so be mindful of this, as its a few extra euros per person per night.
Overall lovely hotel, yes it does need a series of refurbishment works and it was noisy in parts so we did get bad night sleeps, but the main thing is it's comfy, clean and provides good breakfast and boozey cocktails!! We will definitely stay here again BUT see if we can get a more quieter room next time not near a corridor internal phone or exit door. No-one seems to complain about this in other reviews so it might be a one off just affecting us. Enjoy River Palace Hotel!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.