If two’s company, three’s a crowd, and four’s too many, what does that make five? A really awkward number of people to travel with, is what my friends and I quickly realized when we were planning a trip to Italy. Five girls are too many for one hotel room, but it’s really expensive to book two. So, what to do?

Enterprising travelers that were are, we opted to rent an apartment in Rome, thinking it would be the most cost-effective way to experience the city. Wow, were we right.

Our furnished two-bedroom apartment in the Monteverde neighborhood, just west of the hip Trastevere and easily accessible to all the major sites via train, tram, and bus routes, was completely hooked up: fully stocked kitchen, linens and towels, washer and dryer, TV and DVD player (that came in quite handy one cold, rainy night when we couldn’t be bothered to venture outside), and lots of cute décor and knickknacks. A thorough information book that outlined everything we needed to know about the apartment, the neighborhood, and getting around Rome, and the owner even arranged for a shuttle to pick us up from the airport. The total cost for a four-night stay at Casa Rosa? About USD $130 each. (That sound you hear is me patting myself on the back.)

We booked our apartment after scouring the Internet, but there are plenty of great resources out there to help you find a home away from home on any corner of the globe. Sites like,, and specialize in legit—and in some cases vetted—properties listed by owners and managers. Often, they include reviews and photos to help guide you to your dream holiday home.

Aside from saving us a huge chunk of money, having our own little Roman pied-à-terre away from the touristy areas gave us a truly authentic experience. We became regulars at a neighborhood café, where we started out our mornings with cappuccinos, and even made friends with some adorable local ladies who frequented it as well; one day we went grocery shopping around the corner and whipped up our own Italian feast at home.

After all, when in Rome…

Sarah Khan is a copy editor at Travel + Leisure.