Vatican Museum B&B
Viale Vaticano, 97 Rome
Date of Stay: 10 Sept 2011
Unless substantial physical and security upgrades are made to this property, I can not recommend it to anyone. The last three days of our European vacation were ruined by staying there. We ended up hot sweaty sleep deprived zombies. I should have been forewarned about the situation when Rudi refused to accept credit cards and instead required an up-front 33% of the total cost cash deposit to be wired directly to his bank account. Because of this requirement, in addition to normal foreign exchange fees, an extra fee was charge by my bank to wire the money to him
Location: 500 feet from Vatican Museum and 5-10 minutes walk to buses and Metro.
Cost: 10 Euros or more a person less per day then surrounding hotels
Rooms: were clean and had a safe
Owners: Rudi and Claudia. They were helpful with sightseeing tips (public transport, recommended cheap restaurants, markets). They kept the room clean and the small refrigerator stocked with juice, water, etc. It was a nice touch they supplied free postcards.
MAJOR, Constant and at times VERY LOUD Street Noise 24 hours a day.
The Vatican is like a rock in the middle of a stream. Since traffic cannot go through Vatican, it flows around it. The large high walls of the Vatican and building along this street act as amplifiers and make the street noise even louder and more ear piercing then it normally would be. It is a major through street with an endless stream of cars, large trucks, buses and motorcycles/scooters traveling down it at all hours of the day and night. My experience was the worst were motorcycles/scooters, many seemed to have no mufflers. You would start to drift off to sleep and suddenly rrrrrRRRRROARRRRRrrrr. Add to this howling dogs, loud conversations of people (especially the loud and rowdy groups of teenagers) passing by your window and car alarms going off due to vibration and noise of passing traffic, etc.
No Air Conditioning (AC).
This would not be a big factor if one were out in the Tuscan countryside. But for six or more months of the year Rome is hot and humid. Added to the fact it is a only a few blocks from Tiber River (adds even higher humidity levels) and sits on a street where on one side the sun heats up the 100ft+ high dark brown walls of Vatican, in the middle the black asphalt road and on the other side of the street stone walls of multistory hotels and business. The result is 10 to 15 degree increase in the surrounding already uncomfortable temperatures. This excess heat continues to radiate from the stone and asphalt long into the night. It was always fun to come back from a hot sweaty day sightseeing only to find your room is even more hot and humid then where you had just come from.
Rudi solution was to provide a single small fan for each room (all of which vibrated loudly when operating) see fan1.jpg. When asked, Rudi’s answer to why he had no AC is that he had lived in the house 6 years and never had AC and we should not need it. The house had thick walls and they should keep you cool.
Thus you had two choices due to No AC- both equally bad if you were trying to sleep or be comfortable. The 1st was to try and cut down on the amount of street noise by closing your windows and depend on a small fan that was not powerful enough to cool things down, but only to vibrated loudly and recirculated the hot humid air. Talk about hot, sweaty and sticky. The second option was to open your windows and try and get some fresh air. The problems with this is that you got all the street noise and fumes from the traffic and see my comments below about Personal Security Issues. My wife became nausea and started feeling sick because these fumes and the only thing Rudi could suggest was she should take medicine.
Personal Security Issues.
Vatican Museum B&B(VMBB) has substantial (over 1 inch thick) burglar bars on front windows and front door ( See image Burg-bar with close-up.jpg) and strands of barbed wire along the side of building (see Past_barbed wire.jpg ). Usually such substantial protection features indicate a serious crime problem. What is particular worrisome is the easy access that anyone now have to get into any of guest’s bedroom windows. If one were to look at Goggle Maps Street View of VMBB location (made over a year ago) one would see barbed wire blocking any access routes to bedrooms on ground floor. Today part of that barbed wire barrier (nearest to the bedroom windows) has been removed (see image Today_missing barbed wire.jpg ). Because of this and the fact each window has a ledge large enough for someone to stand on, currently anyone at ground level can with relatively easy break into to a bedroom through its window and potentially commit robbery or worse. See image easy access.jpg .
Bathrooms Can Be Hazzards to Your Health.
VMBB is located in a building over 100 years old. If done correctly, it would be very expensive to cut through thick walls to modernize. As a short cut narrow platforms were installed in the bathroom and plumbing and wiring run under those platforms. The problem with these platforms is they are very narrow and easy to stumble off of. The husband of the couple we were with did this and almost hit his head on sink. There were two small bulbs in the bathroom, both of which were burned out. The shower doors do not have a handle on the inside and once you close them they are from difficult to impossible to open from the inside. I had to reach over the top of shower and open them from the other side. If you could not do something like this you would be trapped in the shower until someone could open the door from the other side.
VMBB Bathroom had a SOS Emergency pull cord switch box on the wall next to the shower. Such items are required and usually mounted at a low level and enables anyone who have fallen to obtain help quickly and reduce the risk of further injury. When mounted to the wall it should be easily reachable from the toilet or floor. When the cord is pulled, the toggle switch flashes on the outside monitor and is accompanied by a “beeping” sound. Unfortunately the VMBB Emergency pull cord was only about 2 ½ feet long, impossible to reach from floor and difficult from toilet. When I pulled this to see if it worked, nothing happened and it appeared to either not be connected, broken or just for show. If you fell and tried to seek help using this, good luck.
Rooms Are Nothing like the Pictures on Their Website.
The rooms are small and I had to step over my medium sized suitcase to get around the bed to get to the bathroom (see rooms are small.jpg). Rooms are very tired. Walls are scuffed where former guestes had hit them (see Walls are scuffed.jpg). Floor tiles are cracked (see cracked floor tiles.jpg). There were no bedside tables (unlike what is shown on the website) only a small shelf coming out of wall (see small shelf.jpg). The TV had only 1 station -a staticy Italian station that showed sports and religious programing. The windows in bedrooms have no screens. It was always fun to find in middle of the night some creepy crawler jumping on your face and try to crawl into you ear canal, which happened to me two out of the three nights.
Kitchen Was Interesting.
It was originally made for a single family use not multiple BB guests. To meet this need, Rudi had jury-rigged the electrical system by using numerous extension cords. See image multiple extension cords.jpg . The problem is by using them, they overloaded the existing system. You could not use the stove and toaster at the same time. The circuit breaker would trip. You could not heat water for tea or make coffee at the same time or circuit breaker would trip. The small shared refrigerator barely worked, at best cooling things down to about 70 degree if that low. Moldings on edge of kitchen counters were missing and in some cases coming off. You could easily get splinters. The breakfast was disappointing mixture of pre-packaged sugary pastry and some bread and jam and yoghurt, but nothing fresh. Coffee was instant. Ahh there was nothing like the smell of coffee first thing in the morning mixed with a whiff of exhaust fumes from the truck that just went loudly by the kitchen window that opened onto the busy street outside.
Vatican Museum B&B (VMBB) is no real bargain when you consider all the factors. Even though more expensive, such hotels as Hotel Alimandi (physically right next door to VMBB) or Best Western Hotel Spring House (just down the hill from VMBB), etc., are a much better overall value and will make your vacation much more enjoyable experience.
If I had only know! I guess that is why they say travel is an education in itself. VMBB has taught me a lesson I will not soon forget.
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