Located in a late 19th-century building near the Spanish Steps, this little gem of a hotel has excellent service that gives you more bang for your buck. With small but practical rooms, some with shared bathrooms, the hotel is cozy and economical. Given what you'll save on housing, you can go outside and spend it right outside as you'll be in the midst of Rome's most luxurious shopping district.
The smallish guest rooms, outfitted in terra-cotta, wrought iron, and very simple furnishings, are spotless. Some have wonderful details like a balcony or a high beamed ceiling. All include WiFi, TV, and air conditioning. The bright red bedspreads have a college dorm-feel and pillows, mattresses and towels are thin. But while basic, Panda covers the necessities and makes you feel at home, especially if you're traveling with a group of friends that don't mind being in close quarters.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Although rooms have double-glazed windows, some can still be noisy at night, especially if your room is facing the busy Via Della Croce. Rooms on the other side are dark, but quiet.
Bathrooms have the same terracotta floors of the rooms and white tiled walls. Counter space is lacking and you need to bring your own toiletries. Not all rooms have private baths, so be sure to ask.
If you're willing to share a bathroom, you'll pay even less, and in low season you may have it to yourself anyway.
The hotel is in an inconspicuous apartment building. Inside, climb a flight of stairs to take an elevator to the hotel to reach the small lobby inside, which is filled with faux-marble Roman decorations. The friendly reception is open 24 hours.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Although the hotel has an elevator, there are stairs to climb to reach it, so plan accordingly if you have lots of luggage.
The hotel is located just a two-minute walk from Via Condotti, Rome's most fashionable shopping street, where Christian Dior, Gucci, Giorgio Armani and Bvlgari have shops. While taxis can pick up or drop you off here, it's mainly a pedestrian area, so plan on wearing comfortable shoes. The hotel is also just a three-minute walk from the Spagna metro station which will take you around the city on the A line.
Babington's Tea Room (4-minute walk) is an intimate, quiet restaurant and bar just to the left of the Spanish Steps. Established in 1893, it's a true Roman institution. Although it's on the pricey side, the menu is full of fresh, healthy dishes, as well as decadent cakes. Venchi Ice Cream and Chocolate Ship (1-minute walk) is a famed chocolate franchise, with some of the best gelatos in the city. You can grab a cone and still on the Spanish Steps to eat it.
The Highlander Pub (7-minute walk) is a meet-up for sports fanatics around the city. Trinity College Pub (12-minute walk) is another favorite expat hangout where beer connoisseurs spend their days and nights.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Hotel Panda makes it possible to stay in one of the ritziest areas of Rome, for a budget price tag. While the hotel is simple and barebones, it's clean and cozy, and well worth the price of admission for window shopping on Via dei Condotti. Even in low seasons, the store displays here are spectacular. It's easily accessible to get around to the rest of the city, and will give you a taste of true centro historico Roman life.