Are these hotels or B&B's or Hostels ? It seems if you have to "maybe" climb 5 flights of stairs or share a bathroom its not a quality hotel.
Have you e-mail RS headquarters with that question?
I have been on 4 RS tours so far and have never had to climb 5 flights of stairs - the most was 3 flights but maybe I have been lucky - some have even had elevators.
I'm going on the VFR trip in late May (with 5 friends). The hotels that have been arranged for our trip sound lovely and look great on the Internet. I have no qualms about our anticipated lodgings--in fact, they are much nicer than I would normally chose to stay in, with using the RS method of travel. I also agree with the previous posting, call the Tour Dept. for insights on their chosen hotels.
I was on the Venice city tour a couple of weeks ago, and we had a wonderful hotel, in an excellent location, elevator, breakfast, all you could want.
Also went on the Paris city tour in 2001 and had nice hotel in rue Cler. My experience is that the Rick Steves tours have excellent hotels, perfect for the tour situation. I'm sure the Rome/Florence/Venice one will be the same.
But if you want specifics, contact them and find out more.
correction to my post above -- I was on the Venice tour 2 YEARS ago, unfortunately not weeks ago.....