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Hotels in Italy

All accommodations in Italy are classified by the Provincial Tourist Boards. Price control, however, has been deregulated since 1992. Hotels now set their own prices, which means that in some high traffic or popular places prices have rocketed. After a few years of experimentation, costs are finally settling down again to more predictable and reasonable levels under the influence of market forces. Good-value and interesting accommodations in cities can be very difficult to find but not impossible. However, it is important to keep in mind the standards to which Europeans hold a quality hotel are not the same as they are in the U.S. Don’t be worried... most hotels are more than livable and it is customary to ask to view a room before checking in.

Rome, Florence, Venice and especially Milan have the most expensive and heavily booked hotels in Italy. Check the calendar of events and make sure you book a reservation well in advance if your vacation conflicts with a scheduled event or holiday. You may want to alter your plans if need be.

The quality of furnishings and facilities has generally improved in all categories in recent years. Many hotels have been modernized in some cases by installing smart bathrooms and electronic gadgetry. At the top end of the market, Italy has a number of exceptional hotels, which are furnished and decorated elegantly. You can still find plenty of older-style hotels and pensioni; in some cases undeniably charming, but may be at odds with modern standards of comfort. These are the situations where you may want to ask to inspect a room in advance.  (If you are reserving a room during one of the busy seasons in a 1 star or 2 star establishment, you may want to make a backup reservation in another, just in case you are not happy... most cases there is no need).

  Pricing Averages:
Very expensive(****)
Double with bath:
up to €60.00

• The Differences

Italian alberghi come in all shapes and sizes. They are rated from one to five stars, depending on what facilities they offer (not their character, style or charm). The star ratings are usually some indication of price levels, but for tax reasons not all hotels choose to advertise themselves at the rating to which they are entitled. You may get lucky and find a modestly rated hotel just as comfortable (or more so) than a higher rated one. Conversely, you may find a hotel offers few stars in hopes of attracting budget-conscious travelers, but charges just as much as a higher-rated neighbor.

Pensioni are generally more modest establishments, though the distinction between these and ordinary hotels is becoming rather obscure. Locations of Pensioni are usually away from the centers and action. There are usually plenty of hostels and pensioni around railway stations; for somewhere more fancy, head for the historic quarters.

Single travelers should expect to pay about two-thirds the rate for a single room. Although in the busy season you may be charged the full double rate in some popular beach resorts. There is a charge for extra beds are usually charged at about a third more than the room rate. Rooms without private bathrooms generally get charged 20-30% less, and most offer discounts for children sharing parent’s rooms, and children’s meals. In a moderate hotel the benchmark price for a camera singola (single room) may cost anything from €25.00 and up. Double rooms (camera doppia) go from €35.00 to €125.00 or more. If you want a double bed make sure you specify a camera matrimoniale.

Breakfast is usually optional in hotels, though obligatory in pensioni. You can get better value by eating breakfast in a bar or caffè.



• Prices

Price lists, by law, must be posted on the back of the door of every room along with meal prices and any extra charges (such as air-conditioning, or even a shower in less expensive places). Many hotels display two or three different rates, depending on the season. By law, hotel owners are allowed to change prices twice a year. Low-season rates may be about one third lower than peak-season rates. Some resort hotels close down altogether for several months of the year.

Many of the more luxurious establishments are grand, turn-of-the-century places that have been exquisitely restored. Venice’s legendary Ciprani’s is one of its flagships. The French consortium Relais et Chateaux specializes in tastefully indulgent accommodations, often in historic buildings. Jolly Hotels are more affordable, they are one of the biggest chains in Italy and very reliable in terms of conditions. Also they are usually located in the centers of the larger cities so they are very accessible. Many motels are operated by the ACI (Italian Automobile Club) or by AGIP (the oil company) and are usually located along major exit routes.

• Deposits

If you have paid a deposit, your booking is valid under Italian law, but it is not necessarily refunded if you have to cancel. Do a little research on hotels in general on your own so you know what you are getting into especially for first time visitors.

• Last Minute Booking

If you arrive without a reservation, begin looking or phoning around for accommodations immediately. Main railway stations generally have an information desk that will book you a room; although like most things, a fee is charged. Hotel chains or motels are generally the easiest to book, they are not always the most interesting to stay in. They can be very generic and not offer much in terms of classical looks.

• Villas

If you have set your heart on a particular region and want to use it as a home-base and voyage from there, then renting a villa or apartment may be right for you. In most cases they work like a time-share, for an allotted amount of time you lease the villa or apartment. For stays of more than a few days it is usually cost effective. The drawbacks are: you do the cooking, cleaning and usually have to supply the linens. Some places offer maid service for an additional fee. The villas or apartments are usually located away from the centers in the local areas.

• Rural Living

For a real taste of the Italian farm life, vacations on working farms offer a different view of Italy. Often these vacations offer things like cooking classes, wine tasting tours, hiking, horseback riding and days filled with NOTHING. In most cases accommodations are very basic and are almost never run by established hotel chains. For the most part, these are privately run; make sure you investigate thoroughly before you book.

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