When in Rome?

Call a spade a spade, or brace yourself for unsatisfied guests.

When in Rome, don't take hotel and street names too literally, says Selina Denman.
When in Rome, don't take hotel and street names too literally, says Selina Denman.

Call me naïve, but there are a couple of things that I expect of a hotel called Centrale 1-2-3. Admittedly, my grasp of the Italian language leaves much to be desired – and my chosen profession might make me a bit of a stickler for using adjectives that actually apply.

But when I made my reservation at Rome’s Centrale Hotel 1-2-3, I was pretty sure that a central location was part of the package. I could only imagine that such an unimaginatively named property would do exactly what it said on the tin.

When I say pretty sure, I mean entirely convinced, seeing as that was one of only two criteria presented to the travel agent. Clean, and centrally located… Rome’s answer to Fawlty Towers was neither.

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Now, we’ll forget for a moment that it was the agent’s job to know exactly what he was endorsing. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he too took the ‘centrale’ at face value. What’s for certain is that he himself had never visited the place, or tried to locate it on a map.

Those of you that have visited Rome will be familiar with ‘the map’, a tourist’s guide to the city centre highlighting all of its sites and delights. From Piaza Navona to Campo di Fiori, and from the Forum to the Trevi Fountain, the map details every inch of Rome’s city centre.

Centrale Hotel 1-2-3 is situated south east of the Coliseum, in some indeterminate space about five centimetres from where the map ends.

And not only was it anything but ‘centrale’, it was in the only square mile of Rome that looked more run down than the Coliseum itself. I daresay that there are parts of the Bronx that are more attractive – and welcoming.

Such flagrant false advertising is hardly uncommon in the hotel industry, but it can only be counterproductive. You may be able to lure guests with lies but, as Non-Centrale 1-2-3 soon discovered, it makes for dissatisfied, disappointed guests. Hotels must promote their strengths, not make false promises. A guest that starts their stay disappointed will invariably leave that way.

To add insult to injury, the hotel was located on Via Grandi – which turned out to be the tiniest, narrowest side street in the entire city. Either the Italians have an overdeveloped sense of irony, or my translating skills are really off the mark. .



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