Hotels in Italy: What You Need to Know

And what about those star ratings?

How do you find a hotel you'll like in Italy? Finding a place to stay in Italy can be a daunting experience for first time travelers.

First, let's talk about hotel star ratings. First off, let me assure you that there is no uniform code for star ratings across Europe. In Italy, the star ratings depend almost entirely upon the number of "amenities." A one-star hotel lacks most of them. It may have a bath down the hall. It may not be accessible from the check-in desk without going outside. It won't have a doorman or bellhop. Or a restaurant.

However, that one-star hotel can have a whole bunch more charm than a five-star luxury high rise hotel. In Italy, charm has as much to do with star ratings as Chef Boyardee has with real Italian cuisine.

I generally feel more comfortable in 3-star hotels. The number of 1 and 2 star hotels are dwindling anyway, due to the lower demand for bath-down-the-hall hotel rooms. The slack in cheap lodging all over Europe is being taken up by hostels, which are expanding their offerings to include private, lockable rooms with a bit more privacy as well as a bit more luxury. See: Hostelz to see what's available.

So how to I find a hotel in Italy? Well, there are times when I just hop off a train and find a hotel near the train station if I'm traveling on public transportation in the off season. If the place seems iffy, I have a look at a room before committing. Unless I'm staying a long while, it's usually far more convenient to stay near the train station if I'm coming in by rail. These days, I generally reserve a hotel I pick from a search engine like or contact the hotel directly.

I Look for Hotel User Reviews

On the other hand, when I'm driving or coming in from the airport, I usually reserve a hotel or B&B in advance. I look for hotels from sites that have user reviews from people who've actually stayed in the hotels. Sites like don't let just anyone make up fictional stories about the hotel rooms. You can only review if you've actually stayed in one. Of course, that leaves you free to lie about it all you want if you've beeded down there, but I figure if a hundred or so people say nice things about a room, it's probably fine for me.

Hint: If you sign up for our free newsletter, you can read about the places we're talking about in Italy in real time as we stay in them. Italy has been listing more and more apartments in Italian cities. This mode of staying is becoming the norm for people who like more space, more privacy, and the ability to cook or warm up foods from local delis.

In the map below, you can search for your destination, or zoom in to see many more hotels and current prices.

What Kind of Hotel?

Everyone has their preferences. I am biased toward business hotels and apartments. Sorry, I know, you like that antiques and beamed ceiling charm, don't you? For me, I need a desk that doesn't have a glass top (using a mouse is awful on a glass surface), lots of electrical outlets I can get to, and a good internet connection. You might have other criteria. Be sure you know what your personal criteria is when you start looking for hotels.

Do I Have to Reserve my Summer Vacation Hotels?

That's a great question. I'm glad I asked it. Here's the thing: the Internet has made reservations much easier than they were in the 70s (when it was almost impossible). The internet has also made it much more necessary (highly-rated hotels fill up faster now because it's easier because everyone's reserving in advance).

So, yes, if you are a bit picky about where you stay, I'd say be sure to reserve a place.

I understand it's illegal for a private citizen to transmit an open connection, so you are unlikely to find any of those either.

Good luck finding the perfect place to stay in Italy. I'm rooting for you.

Specialized Lodging Guides

Did you know you can stay in an Italian monastery (often for very cheap)? Purchase a printed guide of Hip Hotels? Why yes, you can?

Hip Hotels Italy Guide to Lodging in Italy's Monasteries

Are There Alternatives to Hotels?

Why, yes, I'm glad you asked. My favorite way to experience Italy is to find an apartment or vacation home and stay a week or two. Want recommendations? See: Italy Self Catering, then read Recommended Self Catering Accommodations.