Friends found a rental by owner in Paris...we are weighing whether to stay in a private owner's apartment or a hotel in Rome for a week-long-plus stay. Looking for recommendations in both categories to consider. A location in the heart of the city for easy walking to the sights and access to nearby hop-on, hop off sightseeing bus routes. Arriving in Rome in early to mid January to begin our extended stay. Thank you, David S. (California via London)
If you are going with a family I would say an apartment may be better and cheaper than a hotel. You can check out apartment reviews at slowtravel.com. I would go with an agency and not just a private owner. You have more recourse with a company than you do with an owner if something goes wrong. For hotels and apartments you can check out venere.com. You can choose the area you wish to stay in, the budget and the number of stars a property has. Remember a star rating in Italy is different than the star ratings in the US. A star rating is determined by the number of amenities a property offers, like if it has a restaurant, bar, etc. It does not determine how good the property is for service and cleanliness. January is off season so you should find some good deals out there if you look.
We've used VRBO for an apartment rental in Paris. We loved it! It was really great (and less expensive) to eat some of our meals in "our" apartment rather than eating out every meal. Plus the apartment was a little more roomy and a nice place to relax. The downside (which wasn't a big deal for us) was not having someone make your bed and clean the bathroom every day. Also, if you need transportation arrangements made, it's nice to have someone in the hotel that speaks the local language to arrange things. Overall though, we enjoy staying in an apartment when we can and we've had good luck with VRBO.
I second the advice to find an apartment via SlowTrav.com - great reviews of agencies and apartments. If this is your first time in Rome I would suggest staying in a hotel. Unless you speak Italian, it can be very helpful to have someone at the front desk to answer questions. But if you have been there before rent an apartment and enjoy the privacy! Rome's city center is compact and it is a great walking city.