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La Residenza, a small and charming hotel in Rome, offers added

atmosphere, Italian style

by Linda and Dr. Don Overend

Want a new experience in your European travels? Try one of the small hotels in almost any of the continent's cities as an escape from the big, American-style chain hotels.

The larger hotels, often provided by tours or chosen for luxury, will tend to be just like the large hotels in our country in decor, in amenities and in general ambience.

Smaller, locally managed hotels will often offer luxury, location and serve to give you a taste of the local charm and hospitality.

By smaller we mean those with less than 30 rooms, generally on a side street away from traffic and often closer to tourist and sightseeing attractions than their larger cousins. They may or may not cost less than larger hotels but often offer a brand of personal service that a 300-bed hotel cannot possibly attain.

To give you an example of such a hotel, and while the experience is still fresh in our minds, we will relate our experience last month in a small hotel in Rome. La Residenza is a 25-room, four-star hotel located half a block off the Via Veneto, just behind the large (and expensive) Ambascatori and Excelsior hotels.

The location is within easy walking distance of the Piazza Barberini, the Spanish Steps, The Via Condotti and the Trevi Fountain. A few blocks farther are the Coliseum, Roman Forum, Victor Emanuelle monument and the Pantheon.

La Residenza is on a quiet street and is located in a neighborhood of small but excellent restaurants and shops serving primarily a local clientele. There is parking for only a few cars, but even this is unusual in a town starved for parking places.

There is a breakfast room, where an excellent buffet breakfast is served daily, and a small bar, but there is no restaurant in the hotel.

The closeness of a dozen neighborhood trattorias makes an in-house food facility unnecessary.

We were met at our arrival at Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci airport by the hotel's limousine, which was actually a very nice minivan.

The drive to the hotel from the outlying airport was about 45 minutes through morning traffic. The hotel charged slightly less for the service than a cab from the airport would.

The awninged entrance patio of La Residenza was all abloom with potted flowers, even in December. The entry hall led to a reception desk on one side and a series of three small, intimate and nicely furnished lobby rooms in the other direction.

We were greeted by the manager, Sr. Casaburo, very warmly, and our room was ready in spite of the early morning arrival. Our room turned out to be a gem with a small sitting room and a private balcony overlooking the street.

The bathroom was huge, with a heated towel rack and a bathtub long enough to lay down in, all done in aqua tile. Included were a minibar, TV, hair dryer, even bathroom scales.

The daily breakfast, included with the price, was excellent and served in a quiet, attractive room.

During the week of our stay, the small staff was busy putting up Christmas decorations but was never too busy to be friendly and helpful. At the end of the week we really hated to leave La Residenza.

We have, in the past, stayed at other such hotels in a number of cities and have found them equally charming and friendly, and very French in Paris, very Greek in Athens, etc.

We would highly recommend trying this kind of accommodation when you travel, at least once. It may not suit your style or your expectations, but if it does, you will gravitate to small hotels again and again.

Your travel agent has the resources to find and recommend this type of hotel in almost every city, and, in fact, may be able to recommend several for you to choose from.

Or you may run onto a magazine article about such a hotel that catches your attention, or a friend may have experience with one. If you decide to choose one of these small hotels, be prepared for accommodations, service and charm that we think will be a pleasant surprise.

(Linda and Dr. Don Overend are co-owners of Ozark World Travel, a full-service travel agency serving the Springfield area since 1976.)

INSET CAPTION:

Small hotels offer travelers a cultural experience that larger, chain hotels cannot.[[In-content Ad]]

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