Worst hotel decision ever? Going cheap in Rome!

“Mom, do you really need to bring that hotel up again?” In my head, I’m rolling my eyes. “That wasn’t a hotel, it was a hostel!” mom retorts. “No, mom, it wasn’t. Can you please just let it go….”

We all have those little incidents and issues that our parents just can’t let go of. We plead for them to just move on. But the older one gets, often the tighter one clings.

It’s difficult to find an inexpensive hotel in Rome, but that’s what I tried to do. It was the end of our trip, and we were just in Rome to fly back home. It was less than 24 hours, so why bother spending a ton of money? Note to self—next time consult mom.

I figured she’d be fine. In fact, she usually prefers less expensive alternatives like small hotels or intimate B&Bs where she can get to know the owners. This particular hotel sounded a bit bare bones, but the Trip Advisor reviews were all very positive. As for the amenities, we didn’t need much for such a short stay—just a quick sleep and leaving for the airport at about 6 a.m. What could possibly go wrong?

We arrive, and it’s not a traditional hotel. There’s a locked gate to enter the courtyard. I ring the doorbell and with a buzzing noise, the gate unlocks. It turns out to be a flat that’s part of a larger apartment complex. Within the flat, there are multiple rooms. Our room had a couple of flimsy beds and an inexpensive dresser. There was no clock and no possibility of a wake-up call (since the front desk hours were roughly 9-5). I thought it looked clean (it had only recently opened), but mom had her own opinions.

We’d already prepaid via a hotel aggregator website, but the front desk attendant kindly called the owner. He agreed to refund our money and even called some hotels to find us another room. Even though mom was unhappy, I was very impressed with how they both were quite helpful and patient with mom.

Unfortunately, there was an event going on and every hotel he called in a few block radius was booked. We were stuck. As we left to enjoy our afternoon in Rome, the front desk let us know to drop our key in the slot when we left early in the morning.

We had a lovely afternoon and evening. This was Rome after all, how could you not enjoy yourself! At the Vatican, they gave us a wheelchair so mom didn’t have to worry about walking long distances. (Yes, the Vatican is huge.) It especially came in handy because it was late in the day, and mom could never have walked fast enough to get to the Sistine Chapel before it closed.

Afterward, we were having trouble choosing a restaurant for dinner, so we asked for recommendations at the gorgeous Campo de Fiori Hotel. They were so gracious and even offered to print our boarding passes for our flight! Of course mom wasted no time in telling me how this is where we should be staying. As I’m given a tour of their famed rooftop patio, I’m wishing that as well.

Later that night, as we get ready for bed, I tell mom that our accommodations weren’t so bad after all, and we’d had a lovely evening. She thinks about possibly agreeing, and then we notice the ants trekking across the floor. Mom just gives me a glare. No words are necessary.

Since neither of us slept well, there were no concerns about being late for our flight. We pack up and leave the key in the slot on the way out. As we got to the front gate, we find it locked. That’s right! Yesterday, we exited using our room key, which is now safely in a slot inside the hotel. I start to panic. I frantically run back, but the hotel door is locked as well.

Mom will kill me if we miss our flight because of my choice of hotel! I check the time and there’s maybe 5 minutes until our taxi is due. We stand there, trapped, looking at the metal door, no idea how to get out. The minutes are ticking away. I go back to futilely bang on the hotel door. Then I see an open window with a sleeping guest. I’m desperate, so I bang and yell to wake them up. They answer in Italian, and I hope they understand a little English. Thankfully, they don’t seem too upset, and they tell me there’s a button on the sidewall that unlocks the door.

I race back down, and just as we get the door open, the taxi arrives. Phew! Crisis averted. All is good. Though mom never lets me live it down. “Ok, Mom. You know best. No more discount hotels…” Bare bones is ok when we’re young, but let’s spoil our parents!

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