The joy of waking up in a hotel in Rome comes at a price: Italian hotels have the highest room rates in Europe, and the fact that the Eternal City in particular is a seller's market has done nothing to raise standards. But things are slowly changing. Though the high prices remain, a slew of new options have shaken up the Rome hotel scene. The arrival of design hotels, such as the post-Deco De Russie, sexy Aleph, and relentlessly contemporary Radisson, has forced many old stalwarts to rethink and revamp. The danger now, of course, is that design itself may fall into a rut—some new openings, like Leon's Place in Via XX Settembre, are more style than substance. It's at the lower end of the market that the most interesting changes are taking place: Those looking for a hotel under $250 now have a range of upscale B&Bs to choose from (smart, stylish Casa Montani is a good example) in addition to the typical budget to mid-range hotels. Value-conscious travelers should make the most of Rome's two low seasons: from November through early March (with the partial exception of Christmas and New Year's), and again from mid-July to the end of August.