Rome neighborhoods are very varied and deciding where to stay in Rome can affect your visit here. The very first time I came to Rome as a back-packer, I stayed in a hostel near the train station, because it was cheapest and easiest. Today, I’d probably pick a different area.
If you want a central hotel in Rome, here are some things that you should consider (not necessarily in this order):
Perhaps not all of the above considerations are important to you when deciding where to stay in Rome. If, in fact, you don't care about being able to walk to most of the sights, then perhaps having good public transportation handy is more important. Maybe it's not an issue if you don't have a lot of great restaurants nearby, as you either don't care as much about the food (is that possible??) or you will take taxis to get to the restaurants you really want to try (that would be me!)
Rome is a pretty safe city with little violent crime, although pickpocketing is unfortunately rampant all over the city. (Always be vigilant when on crowded public transportation and when sitting at outdoor cafe's and restaurants.)
When selecting where to stay in Rome, you should feel safe in almost all the neighborhoods I talk about. However, some of them look and FEEL less safe than others, just because they might be a bit grittier. And no matter where you are, it's best to always be aware of your surroundings, as you would in any big city.
Rome is a big enough city to wear you out, especially if you try to do too much in one day. But most of the major sites are quite central and within walking distance of the historical center. What do I mean by "historical center?"
Technically, even the Termini train station is part of Rome's historical center, but most tourists use this term to refer to the part of Rome that includes the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona and Pantheon (more or less.) If you stay near one of these four areas, then you will be within easy walking distance to most of the main sights.
And if you stay around the historic center, you will have an easier time getting back during the day to rest or drop things off.
Rome has a fairly good public transportation system, including 2 metro lines, and a vast bus system. Rome's metro is a bit limited however…every time they try to dig, they find more ruins!
In any case, between the bus and the metro, you should find it easy to get around Rome. I like to recommend and prefer walking myself, as you see more (and get more exercise), but it can be tiring, and might not be the best solution for everyone.
Where to stay in Rome with the best transportation options? Consider staying relatively close to a Metro stop for the most options. To find out how to get from point A to point B, using Rome's public transportation system, go to ATAC. (This site functions better in Italian if you can manage it.)
Where to stay in Rome on a budget? For sure the area around the Termini train station has the most choice and therefore some of the lowest costs. Believe it or not, there are a lot of very inexpensive places to stay near the Vatican also. For one thing, there is a lot of competition there. For another, it's not actually very central and other Rome sights are less accessible from there.
Other inexpensive (but nice) areas include neighbourhoods just outside the historic center, such as San Giovanni, Salaria and Testaccio.
The most expensive places to stay in Rome are on the Via Veneto and around the Spanish Steps. These are indeed the most central and also the most luxurious neighbourhoods in Rome.
Well, this is Rome, a big, bustling, ancient city. There always seems to be work going on to renovate the old structures. On top of this, many buildings just don't have the internal structure (soundproofed walls and ceilings) that prohibits noise between rooms of a given building. On the other hand, many buildings are made of very thick concrete so noise between two buildings is minimal if non-existent.
Where to stay in Rome that's quiet? Some residential areas that are upscale and have more space include Prati, Parioli and the Villa Borghese. You will not be as close to the historic center, but you will get a chance to see Rome as (some of) the Romans see it.
There is no one quiet neighborhood in the historic center of Rome, and frankly even in many of the outer neighborhoods. Staying in certain areas will be louder than others, but you can also check with a hotel/B&B you are researching, and ask if they have sound-proofing or otherwise quiet rooms. Also, ask for a room not facing the street.
Rome is not really a city that easily affords its visitors with panoramic views, especially from a hotel room. Yes, there are seven hills of Rome, and lovely views from some of these points (and other lesser hills), which I'll go over in more detail on another page.
If you really want to have a view from your hotel room, you will greatly limit your options. Even some of the top luxury hotels on via Veneto do not have rooms with a view. The city is just not laid out that way. The buildings are all quite close to one another as in most big, old cities, so rooms/apartments/hotels with views are consequently not that common (with some exceptions of course! For where to stay in Rome with a view, see the Rome neighborhoods page.)
What central Rome neighborhoods have the largest selection of easily accessible good eating? Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Campo Dei Fiori and Trastevere (although the other neighborhoods also have plenty to offer, these four have the highest concentration of good places to try.)
Click here to see my page about Places to Eat in Rome.