RWK Recommends

RWK Recommends


Via dei Leutari, 15 Roma


Long one of my favorite places to stay in Rome, the charming 17th century palace, Palazzo Olivia, just upped the ante. It’s always had location, charm, and spacious, spotless mini-apartments, so how could they improve? They’ve added a smart cafè, where patrons can grab breakfast (included), all-day dining, and even check in when arriving outside normal hours, and they’ve added fresh new rooms (double or twins) providing greater flexibility and economy.

Especially for families, the variety of options (1 or 2 bedroom mini-apartments and individual twin-bedded rooms) means you can find accommodations perfectly suited to your particular needs. All of the solutions will give you more space than average hotels and at more reasonable prices.  To be sure, few can improve upon the location, on a tiny vicolo, or small street, steps from Rome’s magnificent Piazza Navona and the colorful out-door market at Campo dei Fiori, and walking-distance to the Pantheon, the Vatican, and the forums.

It is an absolute joy to be surrounded by restaurants, shops, and major sights but with young kids, it is a high-value perk that saves times, cuts out expensive taxis, and provides the luxury of popping back to your room throughout the day for touring breaks, easy snacks, naps, and cool shelter from summer’s afternoon heat.  Fall out your door to discover lovely shops, grocery stores, loads of restaurants, and, best of all, major sights like Piazza Navona and the Pantheon.

What’s it like to live in a Roman palace? Thanks to careful renovations, common elements like the massive, wooden entry door, pretty tile floors, gorgeous wood-beamed ceilings, and the building’s stunning helical staircase will give you an idea. And because this is not a hotel –no concierge, no bell staff, and only limited office hours, rather like a B&B – you’ll feel like you are living in your own Roman apartment.  This is an important difference for those who desire hotel staff, but you’re not completely on your own. Unlike most apartment rentals or B&Bs, the Palazzo reception office is open daily, and there is maid service and fresh towels every 2 days, but keep in mind, there is not the 24-hour staff and services of traditional hotels.

All lovely rooms have A/C, Sat TV, free Wi-Fi, and access to an elevator and the restaurant/bar. Children under 6 stay free with parents. Baby cots are on request for small fee.


Top floor apartments provide the best light.  The brilliant layout of the 2 bedroom/2bath puts the bedrooms at opposites ends of the apartment, with a little kitchenette between them, allowing parents just a little more quiet time and privacy.  Each bedroom has its own en-suite, spacious bathroom.

Beere, the hotel’s pretty, modern restaurant, is open from 8am to 1am and serves a continental breakfast (included), snacks, drinks, lunch, happy hour, and dinner.


Palazzo Olivia, Apartments and Rooms in Rome

Via dei Leutari, 15, Roma 00186



For location, location, location, stay at the charming, well-run Albergo del Senato, with its enviable position on the Pantheon square. You may pay a little more to stay at this hotel, but you more than get your money’s worth in cab-free convenience, knock-out views, gracious surroundings, fantastic staff, and hearty breakfast.


The Senato breakfast is a big plus for families. Parents will appreciate the well-appointed breakfast room, which instantly makes you feel like you’re on a 4-star vacation. Pretty, salmon-colored marble floors and elegant fabric chairs set the tone in an intimate room centered around an ancient column. The Senato breakfast buffet is ample, including both hot and cold selections, rather than the typical cold breakfast offered at many Italian hotels. Three kinds of cereals, eggs, meats and cheeses, fruits, cakes and the traditional cornetti, Italian croissants, provide something for everyone.


Many of del Senato’s rooms have stunning views of the Pantheon, and all of them have roughly the same understated, décor: Silk-lined walls, comfortable beds, marble–albeit tiny–bathrooms, and triple-pane windows, which really do keep it quiet. The rooms are refined, small, and efficient. Families have several room choices: the quad, a suite, a triple, or any combination they desire. In both the triple and the quad, it’s important to note that after the first set of twin bed, the extra beds are pullout single sofa beds, which have thinner mattresses and are best for younger children.


The beauty of a stay here is that you will feel pampered by the fantastic staff, and the location will remove a lot of the stress of family travel, letting you all have a more relaxed vacation. Since you are centrally located, you can return for rests as often as you like; you’ll avoid the hassle and costs of cabs and transportation; you’ll have restaurants, sights, grocery stores and ice-cream shops at your feet; and less dragging around means less cranky kids! Parents can end each day of sightseeing on the hotel’s terrace, enjoying a cocktail, with a commanding view of the Pantheon and its square, while the kids enjoy some down-time of their own—chillin’ in their room, watching pay-per-view. Check for more information, and tell them Rome With Kids sent you!


Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck (1953, NR)
Three Coins in the Fountain with Clifton Webb and Dorothy Maguire (1954, NR)
Ben-Hur with Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd (1

959, NR)
Spartacus with Kirk Douglas and Jeanne Simmons (1960, NR)
After the Fox with Peter Sellers (1966, NR)
Hudson Hawk with Bruce Willis (1991, Rated R)

Only You with Marisa Tomei (1994, Rated PG-13)
Gladiator with Russel Crowe and Joaquin Phoenix (2000, Rated R)
Ocean’s 12 with George Clooney and Brad Pitt (2004, Rated PG-13)


A new glass elevator will whisk you up to the tip-top terrace of the Vittoriano Monument for breathtaking panoramic views in all directions. Kids love looking for sights with the free telescopes; big reference maps help you identify major buildings; and you can get a close-up look at the Quadrigas, those horse-drawn chariots pulling winged victories.

Actually, the Quadriga on the right, or Via Fori Imperiali side, represents Unity, while that on the left, or Via dell’Ara Coeli side, represents Freedom. You will find the elevators on the Cafeteria terrace behind the monument. Admission is €7 per person. For the fastest way up, see page 42 in Rome With Kids and follow the directions to the “Secret Passage.”



Steps from the Pantheon you’ll find the Italian gelato you’ll dream about long after your return. Signora Maria makes her ice creams by hand and uses only the freshest ingredients–evident with the first taste. There’s no fancy tables or sparkling café, but flavors like grapefruit (pompelmo), chocolate hazelnut (bacio), and vanilla with chocolate bits (stracciatella) are brilliant. Via Giustiniani, 18.


Since kids love ruins, eating in close proximity to them makes for memorable meals. Try the terrace at Ulpia, which overlooks Trajan’s Forum. The restaurant is more formal than casual, but lunchtime on the terrace is perfect for families whose kids will delight in counting cats among the column-strewn ruins below while adults enjoy the pleasant oasis and delicious fare. Via del Foro Traiano, 1b/2. Tel: 06-678-9980.

For a more informal, trattoria feel, opt for lunch or dinner atRistorante Da Pancrazio. Order from the comforting Italian menu, and then ask permission to view the ruins (of the Theater of Pompey) in the basement! Pompey’s theater is where Caesar met his untimely death, so keep hushed tones. Kids may enjoy thebucatini amatriciana (fat spaghetti with bacon/tomato sauce).Piazza del Biscione 92, off Campo dei Fiori. Tel: 06-686-1246.



Visit the park-like setting of Rome’s highest hill to enjoy a wide-angle view over Rome, its majestic Garibaldi equestrian statue, and a thunderous surprise. Each day, a little before noon, Italian soldiers wheel out a Howizer cannon from beneath the statue and fire a blank shot over Rome to mark the noon hour, or mezzogiorno. The heart-stopping boom is thrilling.”

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