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The apartment's courtyard in Rome.The apartment's courtyard in Rome.

Rome: Renting an Apartment for Six

A search for a hotel in Paris on, results in 1600 rooms. Add in the search criteria for 2 adults and 4 children and your selection quickly drops to 10 options, with the remaining displaying the message “Exceeds max children”.

This message was repeated when we looked for rooms for our family of 6 (2 parents, 4 children) in London, Antwerp, Amsterdam, and other cities we visited on our recent European vacation.

Instead, we narrowed down our choices by looking for hotels that could accommodate 3 people per room, at a reasonable price, near either a major transportation hub, such as the train station, or near tourist attractions to minimize our need for transportation.

For most of our month long vacation, we booked 2 hotel rooms; in Rome, we rented an apartment. We found our apartment rental using HomeAway is a web-based service, allowing a market for renters and vacation
home owners to meet, which we’ve used before for a family vacation to Orlando. We were planning on staying in Rome for five days, mid-way in our trip, so we figured this would be a great place to stay in an apartment – together – and get some laundry done.

Check out "Property Type"

The building from inside the courtyard.The building from inside the courtyard.On the HomeAway site, there are the expected search criteria – city, dates traveling, number of bedrooms desired, number of occupants, price range. “Property type” is an interesting option as the choices range from apartment to farm house (even boathouse in the appropriate locations).

Location, amenities, and accessibility are other options. Payment method and pick-up of the keys is determined by the property owner.

The renter may be allowed to pay via PayPal, check, credit card or cash for the deposit and rental fee.

For our transaction, the owner requested a deposit payment when we confirmed the rental by PayPal, then we paid the rental fee in cash (in Euros) to her assistant upon arrival to the apartment, at which time she gave us the apartment keys.

A Roman Building

Our Italian apartment was in a traditional Roman building, 100 plus years old, still with its original windows and beautiful marble staircase, a few blocks from Termini train station. Mary, the owner, used to live in Rome for about 23 years and has been renting the apartment out for the last five years, since her return to the United States.

The other apartments in the building are the primary homes of local people, so the smell of authentic Roman meals and the sounds of the morning rush to work are often floating in the courtyard. Its location in a residential area also places renters close to a large food market and convenient shopping.

The 4th floor apartment, accessible by the staircase or an elevator which fits about 3 people that’s been retro-fitted in between the flights of stairs, had 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, a living room, and eat-in kitchen, fully furnished with modern appliances. Mary has decorated and furnished the apartment very comfortably. Staying in her apartment feel as if one has dropped in on an old friend, rather than staying in a stranger’s rental space.

The apartment's kitchen. The apartment's kitchen. The cost of the apartment rental (averaging about $250/night) was more economical than reserving 2 hotel rooms, which can run from about $250/night per room, with the added benefits of the entire family being together and the comforts of home.

The mornings started out with a cup of fresh brewed coffee, sitting at the window overlooking the courtyard. Mary’s assistant, who met us at the apartment when we first arrived, left us a starter set of gr
grand entranceThe apartment's grand entrance.
oceries - bread, coffee, milk, eggs, and butter.

We added to this sliced ham and cheese, tomatoes, and fruit from the market. We had breakfast in the kitchen, wandering in and out of the kitchen as we prepared for the day’s outing. A couple evenings, rather than going out late for dinner, which, although customary for Italians, was taking a toll on the kids after a full-day of sight-seeing, we picked up food – yes, even pizza! – and dessert from an area bakery and ate at the apartment. It was just like being home.

A crucial factor in selecting where we would stay, was the proximity to public transportation or major tourist areas as moving 6 people through European cities is a task which is harder than at home. In most cities, even in the U.S., 6 people do not fit into one cab. Once we added up the cost of 2 cabs, we generally found it less expensive and more interesting to walk or take public transportation. As in most of the cities we visited, Rome offers a tourist multi-ride pass.

The Roma Pass cost 25 Euros and allows entrance to two museums, a jump to the speedy entrance line, and unlimited rides on the public transportation (which children ride for free). During our 5-day stay, we ended up only paying 50 Euros for subway rides all over the city, moved way ahead of the hours-long line at the Coliseum, and went to the art museum to see the “Discus Thrower” statue that our son was intent on finding.

Traveling with children can require a bit more planning than traveling with only adults. You have to give more consideration to how many will fit in a room and who, how you will get from one place to another, as you can’t just send the odd numbered kid off on their own. But family travel, whether in town or far away, is a rewarding and unforgettable experience and well-worth the effort.

Frances Frost

Frances Frost is a wife and mother of 4 busy children and blogs regularly at She began traveling at the age of 3 when she left her native Seoul, S. Korea, and enjoys road-trips with her family, in search of the best ice cream flavors.

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Tags: storySection: Vacation Rentals
Location: Europe, Italy, Rome
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