Hotel Santa Maria

Trastevere, Rome, Italy Book from Eur120

Reviewed by Abigail Blasi
A secluded oasis in Rome’s most charming and buzzing district, with rooms surrounding a cloister full of orange trees and a rooftop terrace
Hidden down a driveway lined with ivy, this is a haven of peace in amongst Italy’s scooter-whirring, sight-packed capital. Glossy-leafed orange trees shade the scrunchy-gravel courtyard at its centre - a glorious summery retreat with flowers and myrtle bushes. Around it are 18 bungalow-style rooms and suites. It's a conversion of a 17th-century convent, and though it has been modernised, the peaceful atmosphere remains.

Trastevere is Rome’s loveliest and liveliest neighbourhood; a cobbled maze of bars, restaurants and small shops. Like Paris' Left Bank, you'll find long-term locals mingling with map-flapping tourists, American students, boho alternative types and the occasional homeless person with a dog on a string. The district’s café-ringed main piazza, glinting with magnificent medieval mosaics, is just around the corner. Despite its prime location, Santa Maria is peaceful, the only disturbances being church bells, courtyard chatter and the occasional vivid Italian discussion from the flower-laden apartments around.

Highs

  • During our 2014 revisit, we couldn't tear ourselves away from the courtyard and roof terrace; this is a gorgeous and peaceful retreat in the midst of a busy city
  • A wonderful location within walking distance of many sights, plus great restaurants and bars
  • The huge suites are great for families - some will sleep up to 6. There are double, triple and quadruple rooms, too
  • Staff are friendly and extremely helpful
  • Excellent breakfasts are served under the orange trees in fair weather, or in the cosy breakfast room. Plus a well-stocked wine bar

Lows

  • Windows open onto the courtyard so if you want privacy you’ll have to draw the curtains
  • Don't expect designer décor: this place is all about pretty pastels and rustic charm - photos can't capture the scent of citrus trees or the sound of birdsong
  • The communal living area is a little dark; we'd rather lounge in the gardens
  • Two of the bedrooms (Junior Suite and Mansard Suite) have very low ceilings
  • The Mansard Suite has skylights rather than windows, and rooms vary dramatically in terms of size and layout

Best time to go

Anytime, but September, October, April and May have the best weather - sunny skies but not too hot. However, they are also high season (and busy). It’s very hot in July and August, but also vibrant, with free open-air festivals. In August some businesses close (though not in the tourist centre).

Our top tips

In summer it’s worth packing a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Bear in mind Rome is surprisingly cold in winter. A smart outfit is useful for the see-and-be-seen Italian evenings, and some comfortable shoes for pounding the cobbles by day.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 18
  • Breakfast only (walk to restaurants)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
  • Courtyard
  • Tours
  • Car/scooter hire
Room: Double Room

Rooms

All 18 rooms are arranged around the cloister, with covered walkways running in front of the doors. They have been appended onto the original building, so some of the room shapes are unusual. For example, some ceilings are double height while others are low.

There are 8 Double Rooms, 4 Triple Rooms and a Quadruple Room. Delicate apricot tones give them a cosy glow, and softly mottled walls are enlivened by hand-painted borders. Latticed windows frame the leafy views. Wrought-iron lamp fittings, light terracotta floor tiles, floral bedspreads, pale oak-wood furniture and paintings of Trastevere (by a local artist) complete the picture. Beds are firm and comfortable with plain, soft headboards. One of the Doubles is located at the back of the property and features its own patio; we thought this would be an ideal bolthole for a couple after a little more privacy.

There are also some larger suites which come in all shapes and sizes (sleeping 3-6 people). The Junior Suite consists of a double bedroom and a living room, which can be made up as a twin room on request. The Junior Mansard Suite is a duplex sleeping up to 4; it resembles a cottage, with quaint low ceilings upstairs (not for the tall). The Senior Suite is an even larger duplex that will sleep 6, with the upper floor (again, you might have to stoop) reached via a wrought-iron spiral staircase. The Mansard Suite (sleeps 5) in 2 adjoining rooms, with low slanted ceilings embedded with skylights.

All rooms have flatscreen satellite TVs, WiFi and sparkling (though not huge) bathrooms with showers and/or bathtubs.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

The great buffet breakfast is served in what was once an artisan’s workshop, with a huge stone fireplace and arched ceilings, or on the sunny terrace surrounded by orange trees. The spread includes scrambled eggs, cheeses, cold meats, breads, yoghurts, cereals, pastries, cakes and fresh fruit. There’s also a choice of teas and coffees, including freshly made cappuccino.

There's a well-stocked wine cellar and bar open all day until 11pm; sometimes guests gather between 5pm and 8pm for some nibbles and to share stories from the day.

Trastevere is one of the best areas of Rome for beguiling eateries to suit all budgets. Try rough-and-ready Da Augusto, dig into some of Rome’s best pizza at Dar Poeta, or indulge in Sicilian dishes at more refined Osteria La Gensola.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Visit Piazza Santa Maria and its exquisitely mosaicked church, just around the corner
  • Nearby Santa Cecilia has a moving sculpture of the martyr’s perfectly preserved body, as it was when her grave was opened over 1000 years after her death
  • Meander through the tranquil, exotic Botanical Gardens; see the neighbouring art collection of Palazzo Corsini and the Raphael frescoes at Villa Farnesina opposite
  • Borrow bikes from the hotel and explore on 2 wheels
  • Walk up to San Pietro in Monteiro and visit the tiny Bramante tempietto, a classical masterpiece fitted snugly into a cloister
  • Wander further up the hill and overlook Rome from the dizzy heights of Gianicolo
  • Take the crossing over to the boat-shaped Tiber Island, the world's smallest inhabited island, in the middle of the river
  • Explore the major sites by taking one of the many tours available. The hotel can arrange city walks from 1-4 hours, visits to the Vatican, and small-group tours (all guides are licensed and speak fluent English)
  • After all that exertion, relax in the sun on the rooftop terrace overlooking the citrus trees and cute townhouse balconies

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Language courses
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

Santa Maria is a really good place for families thanks to the strength of its accommodation and location. You're in a buzzing area in the centre of Rome but it's secluded; you're also walking distance from the Forum, and the large multi-bed rooms and suites here work really well, whatever the age of your children or number you're travelling with.

There's plenty to get children excited in Rome, from the Colosseum and stories of lions and gladiators to the Trevi fountain and street-corner gelato sellers. Eating out is easy and even the most fussy should find something to their taste.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Take your pick - there are Double, Triple and Quadruple Rooms, all of which can accommodate an additional baby cot. Plus there are the 4 large suites: Junior Mansard Suite (sleeps 4), Junior Suite (sleeps 4 + 1 baby), Mansard Suite (sleeps 5 + 1 baby) and Senior Suite (sleeps 6 + 1 baby).

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chair
  • Potty

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

There are child-friendly cafés nearby (this is Italy, after all!), plus takeaways too. Dinner is served late by UK standards but the pre-dinner snacks could serve as a high tea for little ones.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Bikes available to borrow
  • Free WiFi
  • Children's books and board games

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Walking distance from the Forum
  • Explora, the Rome Children's Museum, is a 15-minute drive away
  • Catacombs
  • Take a gladiator tour at the Colosseum
  • Vittoriano Monument for views from the top
  • Ice cream parlours
  • Villa Borghese gardens with zoo, lake and 148 acres to explore

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes
  • Doctor: 5 minutes
  • Shops: 2 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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