This article will inform you on what to expect from Rome’s nightlife. Learn how to get on a P/R’s guest list or reserve a table. Learn how to differentiate between a kiddie party club or a Jurassic Park reunion and how to escape if you get stuck in either one. There is something for everyone so whether you are young, mature, single, gay or going out with your love, you will certainly find the place for you.
If you are young and single, Rome’s nightlife awaits and you will certainly enjoy what it has to offer. If you are no longer in your 20s and 30s, you may be surprised to find that Romans party throughout their entire lives. There are clubs for teens, usually open in the afternoons, where no one over 18 is permitted. You might notice some clubs with a predominately young crowd ranging from 16-22. Then there are all the rest. While many clubs cater to 25-40 year olds, you can easily go to a club and find three generations on the same dance floor!
Rome’s clubs vary and change as time goes by. In the summer, many indoor spots close down and rebuild their temporary open-air summer version in other locations around Rome, Capri or Sardinia.
When summer arrives, Roman nightlife sizzles. So when you feel that the summer heat is scorching your skin, Rome’s favorite outdoor haunts will certainly be open and overflowing with its beautiful Romani decked out in top Italian fashion. No matter how you choose to dress, however, the music will still be hot and the beautiful club-goers will keep your heads turning. So don your favorite ensemble and have a blast! The winter may be cold, but the heat continues indoors so check your coats at the door and dance the night away.
Rome’s tried and true…
Summer Edition: Lungotevere Castello
Winter Edition: Vicolo dei Granari ( Piazza Navona) Average Age Range: 18 – over 40
La Maison is one of Rome’s top chic clubs where Romani and visitors meet. It is hidden in the labyrinth behind Piazza Navona. Ask the most beautiful person you see and they are sure to lead the way. It starts off late at around 1am, so you may want to start off somewhere else before ending up here.
I sang there once for a Krug Champagne sponsored night and thus realized what happens after 3am. I was hired to sing a song at each hour. When 3am rolled by, I noticed how the crowd began to roll away. However, by 3:30, a new crowd had made its way in; they were mainly drunk young men who stumbled across the dance floor toward any female still present. I saw dozens of men arrive and leave accompanied by equally drunk women. At 3:45, upon noticing what was occurring, I was told I could go home as no one left was sober enough to listen.
Summer Edition: You’ll have to sail to Capri to get there.
Winter Edition: Via dei Soldati, 25 (Piazza Navona) Age Range: 17 – over 65
La Cabala is one of Rome’s most interesting clubs to observe as a foreigner. If it is your first time in Rome, and the indoor clubs are open, then go to La Cabala at Osteria dell’Orso, just off of Via Zanardelli near Piazza Navona. There are hotter clubs around but this has a unique concoction of elements.
It is contained within beautiful antique Roman architecture. There are multiple floors: the top floor is young and hip with beautiful impeccably dressed people dancing to the DJ’s hot beats; the middle level is one of Rome’s top restaurants, which is usually closing when the club opens; the ground floor is the piano bar which is frequented by many Italian celebrities, politicians and random aging starlets. This bottom floor presents a window into the Italian culture like no other window around. You see people well into their 60s, fashionably dressed, singing along to their favorite Italian hits of yesteryear, while their descendants aged 17-35 are upstairs grinding on the dance floor.
It is a unique spectacle, especially in the wee hours when the crowds mix and mingle. The younger, under 35 crowd heads to the piano bar to cool off as the over 50 crowd heads upstairs to get their groove on. It is quite funny to observe and everyone of all ages will find something appealing until it just turns downright humorous that you just cannot help but to rudely stare. La Cabala is very upscale, so you must dress to impress.
Hot, hot, sizzling HOT!
Most Romans only allow themselves to be seen in the VIP section, which Italians call the privé, in fact, I think that is the only reason why they go. Romans, like most city-folk, like to see and be seen. In turn, the non-VIP area sometimes remains empty while the VIPs in the privè are packed like sardines. The difference is that the privè area offers private tables and has bottle service, while the non-VIP area is standing room only. Perhaps eventually, someone will simply open up a club with seating for everyone and call it Privè. Then again, it seems people also enjoy seeing from above and being seen from below.
Testaccio and Ostiense have a great condensation of clubs, bars and lounges. Cinderella would not have been able to go dancing in Rome. It all starts after midnight. Many have a drink minimum and entry fee will usually include a cocktail. If you are on a list, you usually just have the drink minimum but once you know the doormen well, you will be treated like a star. If you are looking to go dancing, Rome has clubs galore to choose from. Try out a different one every night. Remember, Romans are very fashion conscious. Some clubs will literally post a sign that states ‘Private Party’ just to enable them to deny entry to whomever fails to meet their fashion criteria.
I once witnessed a group of 40-year-old American women, who had a reservation for a table, get denied entry due to their appearance. If you want to gain entry to some of the most exclusive clubs, you must dress the part. There are clubs for every age group and some for all. If you wish to dress down, then find a crowd you fit into. Testaccio has numerous clubs for every style, whether it be goth, hip-hop, house, Latin, 70s & 80s, trendy or elegant chic. If you are feeling tired from seeing the sites, then have an espresso for a quick pick-me-up or take a nap in the early evening; that is what the Romans do.
Where NOT to go?
There are some clubs that have a very specific clientele. While most clubs in the center are always trendy, I would think twice before going to Gilda. Gilda is one of Rome’s oldest clubs, however, it is a gold-digging haven. I was on tour with Hair – the musical when I first visited Rome. The theatre held our opening-night party at Gilda. I was surprised to see so many old men with really young girls and sometimes even older women with young guys.
Rome being the capital of Italy, it is full of politicians as well as Italian celebrities. Those seeking to make it in the Italian film industry will go where powerful men and women go. There are other clubs with this kind of clientele, but Gilda is the most notorious.
If you walk into a club and realize that you do not like it and would rather go home or anywhere else than spend time there, walk out right away, even if you reserved a table. Do not feel obligated to purchase a drink. Either tell them how awful their club is or lie and say that you will return and just need to pick up a friend who is lost nearby.
You will find most gay clubs, bars and lounges in the area behind the Coliseum. It isn’t exclusively gay either. You’ll find many straight Italians with gay friends who will go there as well. Straight music lovers will often flock to Muccassessina or Gay Village in order to listen to the best House music in Rome. Italians will even pretend to be gay at the door by holding their buddy’s hand, just to get in faster. So if you are gay or just love House music, you will be welcomed at both of these venues.
How do you get there? Walk around the Coliseum until you see the tram stop. Cross the tracks to Via San Giovanni in Laterano. You will know you are there when you see the first rainbow flag.
Avoid the lines! Where to go? How to get on the guest list or reserve a table?
Italians don’t patiently form a line to get into clubs. They crowd around the entrance along with their cloud of smoke. Those with tables are let in first. Then, those on the list or the prettiest in the bunch follow. The rest are left to wait outside like cattle. Sometimes I leave a club hours later only to find the same people waiting outside that I saw when I got in. Don’t be one of those people who wait. Keep reading to learn how to avoid the lines.
Roma Exclusive Party: Has a current list of clubs and P/R phone numbers so you can put your name on the list. It is an Italian website, so you may need Google Translate. If you want to put your name on the list or reserve a table, send one of the following messages with all the full names of those attending. Please note that there is usually a minimum bottle purchase for a table. However, a reserved table will usually guarantee you and your party entry. Bottle prices vary drastically depending on the exclusivity of the venue. Most drinks are about €15. You might pay about €25-€30 at a table and perhaps get 1-2 drinks out of it depending on how many people are with you. Ask the venue for prices and divide that per person. Please note that some clubs have a maximum amount of people they’ll allow at a table per bottle.
For the Guest list: Per favore aggiungete questi nomi alla lista per (name of club) per (day/month): Names
To reserve a table: Vorrei prenotare un tavolo per (number of people) nel privé per (name of club) per (day/month): Name of person reserving. Expect a phonecall back so you may want to have someone help you.
La Maison, Art Café and Cabala are the classics.
Shari Vari, Nur Bar and OS Club are the newer classic yet trendy ones.
All of the above are super exclusive so dress to impress or you will spend the night waiting to get in.
Clubs change so often that I have given up on keeping this post current so please check out these websites that will certainly offer the latest top clubs to check out:
2 Night: This has one of the most comprehensive lists of clubs and are always current. It’s in Italian so use Google Translate to translate the entire page.
Tripadvisor: Read the reviews for current information of Rome’s clubs.
Begin your evening as most Romans do, have an aperitivo in a chic Roman lounge or laid-back bar and mingle with the natives. Follow it up by eating an amazing meal, but first learn how to recognize the best restaurants and avoid the typical tourist scams.
If you want to know more, ask me and you will be answered. Stay informed, new clubs open throughout the year and the best time to go is opening night. Be there!