If location really is everything, then this three star hotel in the medieval heart of Rome has it all. Trastevere is Rome's best-kept secret. Just a short stroll across the Tiber from all the big-name sights, it's where hip Romans want to hang out. The beautiful higgledy-piggledy streets have been enthusiastically graffitied, but don't let that put you off.
Built in 2000 on the site of a demolished 16th century convent just behind the lively Piazza Di Santa Maria, Hotel Santa Maria is a single-storey mock-up arranged around two leafy courtyards. In summer the excellent breakfast of croissants, cakes, ham and 'scrumbled eggs' is served by cheerful staff under the orange trees. Otherwise guests eat in the convent's former kitchen, which also acts as bar, internet café and the venue for a tasty and free afternoon buffet. Another thoughtful touch is the provision of bicycles.
Rooms are large, basic and clean. The beds are comfortable, the bathrooms small but perfectly formed. If you can get past the peach rag-rolling and cheap iron bedsteads, the doubles are a good no-frills option. Rather more characterful, however, are the split-level suites.