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Apartment or hotel for HS group of 10 in January - Rome?

I'm a teacher taking a group of 8 students and 1 other chaperon on a trip to Rome in January. The rates are so cheap, that it seems almost the same to stay at one of Rick's recommended hotels as compared to the hostels!

I've also been looking at getting an apartment we can all stay in - I like the idea of having a living room we can all gather in easily.

Any recommendations - hotel vs. apartment?

My one issue is this - there is one male on the trip and the other 9 are females. This means in a hotel, I have to get this male student his own room. In an apartment, I have to get one big enough for him to have his own room and the girls still have their own rooms. For what they are paying, no way I can stick a kid on a couch.

Thanks!

Posted by
51 posts

SamSn & Jo - thank you for your responses. I think I'm going to go with SamSn's advice and stick with a hotel for the reasons mentioned. I have quotes and offers from several and am 99% sure I'm booking Hotel Opera Roma (from Rick's book).

Posted by
1127 posts

If you are going to be in Rome for any length of time I would go with a hotel. Apartments rarely offer daily maid service which is essential for a group of students. Other factors to consider: will you need luggage storage before or after check-out? Most apartments do not offer this. Hotels will offer staff that can answer questions and call taxis if public transportation is not an option. If you will have a cell phone and speak a limited amount of Italian this will not be an issue.

Check out the hotel reviews on SlowTrav:
http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/vr/list.asp?r=Rome

Be very careful renting an apartment. There are many reliable, honest rental agencies but there are also a few that use bait & switch tactics. It will be difficult to find an apartment large enough to host 10 people. The Palazzo Olivia (http://www.palazzo-olivia.it/)rents several apartments in the same building but you would need at least 3 for your group.

Posted by
11437 posts

Wow, a trip less then a month away and you are just now looking for accomadation. As a parent I would have expected this trip to have been planned well in advance.

I would also wonder how you have decided already what to charge for the trip, since you state " for what they are paying" , and yet you really don't seem to know what your costs are, as you have not booked your accomadation.

Do American schools just allow these types of trips so last minute and apparently undocumented?? Here a plan would have already had to habe been submitted for approval.. I guess its different where you live . ?

PS Seems to me perhaps you should try and bring a male chaperone along, since you have a male student. It would not be seemly for a group of 8 boys and one girl to travel with two male chaperones, so why is it ok for the one male?? What if he has an issue of a personal nature.?

Posted by
51 posts

We had booked with EF Tours who canceled on us. I was able to get pricing information by looking at the web and estimating based on Rick's books. We are going off season and there are a huge amount of choices as everything is available and cheaper.

The male student just added last minute knowing he was joining a trip of all females with 2 female chaperons. His sister is one of the girls going. Student and parent were fine with that, why is it a problem for you if they knew the situation before joining and wanted him to still join?

I'm actually glad I didn't have the rooms booked since this situation has come up and now I can make sure I have a proper room for him.

Did you have any actual thoughts on the question I asked - apartment vs. hotel?

Posted by
7186 posts

Robin, how are you getting your group to the hotel in Rome?

Posted by
466 posts

Check out this website....www.cross-pollinate.com It is a bed and breakfast and apartment booking service for Rome, Florence and Venice. An American family living in Rome runs the site. They also own a hotel/hostel near Termini in Rome called the Beehive. It is a very nice hotel and hostel. I have stayed there before. They also have many apartments to choose from. Good luck and have fun!!!!

Posted by
51 posts

Tim - we are taking the train to the Termini station from the airport. I have prepared all these students that they are carrying their own luggage and could have a 10 minute walk from the Termini to the hotel (or bus stop, etc.). If we stayed at Hotel Opera Roma I was going to use their shuttle service for 14 EUR/person. Unfortunately, as I was preparing to book, the person working there told me they don't take minors. They were the ONE place I had emailed that I forgot to tell we were a student group. I was bummed because I liked them best.

Mark - Thanks for the cross-pollinate and beehive recommendation. I had looked at them a while back due to a recommendation on this board, but they won't work for us. 1 bathroom for 9 females is not a good combo! (that was at their 4 bed apartment) and the accomodations at the-beehive don't work for our group. I would have to put the one boy in a room with strangers and I just don't feel right about that.

Posted by
11437 posts

Yes I have a thought. Use hotel , boy rooms with his sister as I don't think minor should room alone. The rooms you will need, two doubles( you and one chaparone in one, boy and sister in other) then the other 6 girls can do two triples, or three doubles,depending on what a hotel has available. You will have an appropriate amount of washrooms. Boy will not be alone, but rooming with sister. Sister may prefer to room with friends but will survive.

You may encounter some issues with places not wanting to rent to minors( student groups in general) .

I am still perplexed that parents are so easy going about letting kids go on a trip to foriegn country that isn't actually planned yet. You must impress them as very capable.

Also, I am surprised(and not impressed) that EF tours cancelled your group( on short noitce it seems too) , I thought they were very experienced with doing these school tour groups and supposed to be reliable. Why did they cancel you?

Posted by
7186 posts

Robin, we took 20 high school freshmen this past June 2008, and I also found several places that would not accept groups. The place I did find was the Residenza Navona First B&B located in Campo dei Fiori. They also arranged for private transport from the airport directly to their front door for less than the cost of the Leonardo Express from FCO to Termini. It wasn't a fancy place, but it was clean, safe, and dead center.

I would really not want to plan on walking mainly because of inclement weather. We also experienced the highest tensions when we boarded, disembarked from metros.

Posted by
51 posts

Thanks for your thoughts Pat. Trip is planned, airfare purchased, itinerary set, and tours booked (though I'm having second thoughts about our tour agency and may change them). Just didn't have room booked yet. Had looked at rooms, just didn't have one settled on and booked. I knew from my research there were lots of choices available for when we were going. And yes, parents do have a lot of trust in me. I have taken students on international trips before and have had no problems and am very organized. :-)

Yes, very disappointed with EF too. I had never used them, but they came highly recommended by a College Prof I respect. They wanted to make our trip in the summer or early January (and a different trip) instead of end of January because according to them, no other groups had booked for anywhere else in the world, the week we would be going. We are going at a week that can't be changed. Their pricing is based on combining groups and there was no other group for us to combine with. Our group wasn't large enough for them. Thankfully they refunded our families quickly (they had already paid in full!).

Tim - thanks for the tips. I figured we could take metro and buses if it was raining (looked up the routes). I plan to get the Roma passes. Did you use those? Of the hotels I have been investigating, only 1 has said no to a student group - of course it was my favorite and where I really wanted to stay! Oh well. Is the Residenza Navona First B&B the same as the Hotel Navona? They are one of the quotes I'm looking at.

Posted by
20718 posts

Robin, you really need to get yourself to a good travel agent or travel coordinator. From reading your other question, you sound young and inexperienced with European travel and not at all knowledgeable about group travel. You have potential visa problems with two students, you are at least one chaperon short, etc. Have you personally check all passports, have medical releases from all students, list of medical services available in Rome, anyone trained in first aid, all emergency contact information. I could go on but the list is long. You think you have six weeks. You don't. You have about two weeks, three at the most and then three weeks of waiting. Make sure your personal liability is in good shape, you may need it.

You need more asistance than this board can provide you.

Posted by
51 posts

Thanks Frank. I'm not young (unless you consider 38 young) but this is only my second Europe trip. I have traveled a lot, and with students (including taking them to Mexico). I have copies of all student passports. I have medical releases & emergency cards. I'm certified in CPR & First Aid and so is my other chaperon. I have no problem with chaperons, not sure why you think that, there are two of us for 8 students. I have responded back to 3 hotels in regards to our rooms (8 told me they had space for us) and decided not to do the apartment from the advice here (I had quotes for 3 apartments that I had gotten). I have trip insurance. I have given packing lists to my group (weeks ago). I have tours set up. I have the info for our transportation once we get there. I have individual files for each student with their info as well as my budget, etc.

I don't think I have 6 weeks. In fact, I want it all completed by this Friday. I came for help with the last couple of things I needed to decide on.

Posted by
864 posts

Well my heart goes out to you. It's easy to be in the passenger seat and say "well did you think of this or that or do this or that or think of this or that?" It's probably all been sorted out by now but a brother and sister sharing a room is hardly on the weird/naughty side. She'll just hate having to put up with duffus brother (or, maybe not - some siblings actually, dare I say it, like each other.)

Posted by
7682 posts

Over here in "Europe", it is very common for school groups to go on trips to other countries. My daughter has been doing this since 8th grade when the whole class went skiing in Austria. Every year they go someplace and with only 2 chaperons for 30 kids. This is normal and all the hostels here are set up for just this kind of thing. It is very easy to find a single room in a hostel also. Thinking that just because a boy is along you need a male chaperon in case he has "issues" is overkill. Good lord, this is a simple trip to Italy. These are high school kids, almost old enough to get married, vote, go away to college or even join the military and you want to hold their hands every step of the way. Cut Robin some slack. She sounds like she knows what she is doing. She came on here for some specific help, not to get chastised.

The only thing I might want to bring up is drinking. She might want to have some serious heart to heart talks about this. Is it going to be ok with the parents, etc.? Probably not, but she needs to have this then clear with the students.

Posted by
7186 posts

Sounds like you're going to have a great time. Let us know the results of your trip when you get back home.

Posted by
11437 posts

Jo, there is a HUGE difference between a trip to another country from YOUR country , which may only encompass a 3 hour train ride,and a North American trip to Europe. ,HELLO, we are talking about travelling at least 8-12 hours by plane to get to Europe.We cross through immigration, your kids do not. We have to go through customs, you kids do not. If there is a problem of any sort it is not just a few hours away to home, and there are also language issues. I bet most of your teachers are fluent in more then one language. Many student groups from Canada and States have teachers who only speak "a little" of another language, maybe French or Spanish, they are rarely fluent in the language of the country they are going to. Of course many such school groups do use tour agencies such as EF to handle logistics and language issues for them.
More of your teachers have travelled around Europe, Robin hereself has only been once or twice. Huge difference. You are trying to compare apples to oranges.

Posted by
7682 posts

I wasn't really comparing anything. I was stating a fact that hostels over here in Europe are used to handling groups of high school age students as it is normal for them to travel around Europe beginning at a fairly young age. Believe it or not, it is also common for school classes to go to Canada! and to the US. This is usually an English class and they usually stay in homes for their 2-3 week stay, but the principle is the same. Getting in an airplane and flying overseas is exciting, not traumatic or a drudge when you are young. A group of only 9 is also quite manageable. I doubt that Robin will have many problems.

I am wracking my brain though to try and figure out what kind of "issues" you think this one boy might have that would make you think a male chaperone should come along. I am thoroughly puzzled??? (and yes, I do have a grown son so I do know about boys.) Please, please clue me in.

Posted by
1313 posts

Robin, depending on the hotel you select, there is a very good chance they will have a "common area" that you can gather the students in easily. I agree with the others who recommend a hotel. Among other things, if you do have an issue (male or otherwise!) you have the hotel staff available to help you out. I would room the brother and sister together unless the parents object--and I can't see why they would.

My dad and I used the Roma Pass last month. I would definitely recommend you consider it as the three-day metro pass will be very worthwhile with 12 people to keep track of. Otherwise, or if you need more than three days of transportation, you will probably want to buy a stack of the 1-euro metro tickets and hand them out to the kids as needed. This is not the most efficient or cost-effective way. And with the Roma Pass you get the two free admissions as well!

We bought ours at Termini from the TI along Track 24 - the one with the Leonardo Express from the airport, and down the track a ways, towards the Baggage Claim.

Posted by
319 posts

Robin- I am sorry some people are giving you a hard time. I hope you and your kids have a wonderful trip. In 2006, I was part of a school trip that took 100 or so kids to see hockey at the Turino Olympics. Our trip started as a crazy idea that ended up a logistical nightmare, but in the end it was an amaizing experiance for all invloved. Good for you.

Posted by
11437 posts

For goodenss sake Jo, I do not think anything will be "traumatic" for the kids, hell, I flew to Amsterdam at 13, alone, to meet my grandmother from who came up from Paris,I spoke no french or dutch and she spoke only french.. and she was late arriving, I thought it was exciting, as I searched for a phone to phone the Canadian
Embassy,, I was not "traumatized " in the least. .I was dissapointed when she showed up,, LOL

The stress and worry will be all Robins and her friend ( other chaperone) .

It certainly did sound like you were trying to compare the two experiences, but you say I am mistaken so excuse me. . I also think a school billeting exchange program is a little different too, and something I know would be organized months in advance.

Michelle, so you stayed in your own country for that trip right? No language issues anyways, yet you said it was a "logistical nightmare",, I am sure the children did not find it so, only the teachers .

Robins group is very small, so very manageableI am sure she will not have any huge logistical nightmares. We just have different laws here regarding overnight school sponsored trips. Both sexes must have a chaperone.
Apparently the school that Robin is working at does not have any rules about that. Here, even to go on a school camping trip the parents who are staying overnight to chaperone are carefully screened. I guess we are just more uptight.

One issue I can think of,which I admit is not likely to happen, but NOT impossible. Lad goes into public washroom, does not emerge for 20 minutes. He is ill, but no one goes in to check on him, teacher will now have to ask a stranger to check on boy. This can of course happen to a mother and son travelling too, and guess what , it did. Moi. I realized son had upset tummy as he told me, but a boy with 9 other females may be embarrasesed to mention it.
At least his sister is on trip though.

Posted by
7186 posts

As a male I can say I've seen several females in the men's restroom. It's not totally unheard of. Even standing at the urinal I remember several of the cleaning ladies mopping the floor around me. So I don't think anyone will be aghast at seeing a female in the male restroom...except maybe Americans!

Posted by
11437 posts

TIM, trust me a teenage boy does NOT want a female teacher in his washroom when he is enjoying a bout of diarreha. We are talking about kids here, not a full grown male. Teens are alot shyer about certain things .

Posted by
51 posts

Liz - thanks for the recommendation for the Roma pass. When I contacted Angel Tours they recommended it, plus it seemed the best deal for our using the Metro & bus system. It's always good to hear from those who have used the same plan and it's worked out!

Posted by
51 posts

Thank you all for your help and support. We are definitely doing a hotel over an apartment (my original question here!).

I did start planning this trip a year ago, had sign up's last May with EF. Found out mid-end of October that EF was canceling on us. No way was I canceling this trip after kids worked summer jobs to pay for it themselves. I just followed the same itinerary EF had set up to make things simpler, that was the trip the kids thought they were getting, so it has worked fine.

I'm not worried about the logistics. I've been taking teens on trips for 10 years +. I have 4 teens of my own, so our own family travel is a minimum of 6 people. This trip is a total of 10. I've taken larger groups. It will all work out and kids will have a great time learning and living in another land/culture. Things will sometimes not go the way I planned - that's ok. I've learned to major on the majors and minor on the minors when it comes to travel.

I work at a private school, so if there are laws for overnight trips for the public schools, they don't apply to us. I had considered changing out my second chaperon when I allowed the boy to add, but my hubby didn't want to be my fill in male at the last minute. Even though it concerned me a bit, I decided it will be fine too. As I said, the boy and his parents knew the situation and were not only fine with it, were grateful I was willing to allow him to add on such short notice.

BTW, I decided on and arranged a single room for the boy. He is 18 and his room is next door to the rest of our rooms. He was supposed to go on the Costa Rica trip but actually never signed up for the trip last May, that trip was full by now, so the teacher couldn't add him.

Thanks again and I'll fill you in when we get back (and maybe ask some more questions before I go!).

Posted by
869 posts

Hi Robin,

I had my first taste of Europe 15 years ago when I went on a trip like you are doing. I commend you for providing such a memorable and amazing opportunity for your students. We need more teachers like you.

Although we didn't stay in Rome on our trip, we stayed in youth hostels elsewhere. They usually have large areas that can be used as meeting areas. I agree that hotels are probably a better option than an apartment. Breakfast is usually included in the price and there is a dining room where you can meet in the mornings.

As with everything else in life, you glean the good stuff and throw away the crap....this board is no different. :)

Have a wonderful time and let us know how your trip goes.

Posted by
11437 posts

Robin, didn't realize kids were so old, even I consider an 18 yr old an adult, not a minor. I am sure an 18 yr old is fine on his own in a room as many 18 yr olds travel around Europe on their own anyways.

Posted by
55 posts

I think it is quite fantastic that Robin is taking her students on this trip. I cannot believe how rude someone could be in a comment on this post. That being said, I would recommend Hotel San Carlo. Great Location and cheap prices. I hope you and your students have a great trip. Going to Italy at that age is really life changing.