The space itself is nice and is as it appears in the photos. The owner, David, was very helpful with directions, restaurant recommendations, etc. prior to and on our arrival. The apartment is in a working class neighbourhood 5 minutes from the tram to Trastevere (which gets very crowded in the afternoon and evening). Unfortunately the apartment smells of stale smoke and the shower didn't drain despite repeated attempts by both David and myself to unplug it.
Sorry for the essay that follows, but based on my dealings with David I suspect my negative review will elicit an inaccurate, angry and unnecessary personal response, so a full explanation is likely required. Read on if you wish.
We had booked the apartment for 4 nights. David had been busily cleaning the apartment for the entire duration of our 2-hour journey from FCO. On our arrival, the doors and windows were wide open and the apartment itself had an overpowering smell of chemical cleaner. David immediately explained the cleaner smell by stating that the last guests had left a mess and had cooked something that smelled. Fair enough. David spent the better part of an hour showing the apartment and explaining how everything worked. We were impressed and told him so. During the tour he did mention that the shower drained slowly, but stated that this was "normal".
We dropped off our bags and went into town. On our return that evening the apartment still reeked of chemical cleaner and we tried to air the place out. As the chemical smell dissipated later that evening it became clear that it was merely masking the stale smell of smoke. As for the shower, standing water created a very unpleasant soap scum footpath within minutes. I found a plunger sitting next to the shower (should have been a hint of an ongoing issue) and I tried to clear the drain with little success. The next day I informed David of both issues and, to his credit, he did show up later in the day to try and clear the drain. The shower did drain a little better at first, but after one shower it was back to the scum filled footpath within a minute.
As for the smell, David insisted there was none. At one point he did admit that he got a vague whiff of smell while standing next to the bed, but stated he smokes himself and couldn't be sure. My wife and I tried everything to isolate the source. We left doors and windows open and we left them closed. We put towels at the bottom of the doors to the common hallway in case the smell came from there. We finally isolated the source as being the upholstery of the couch and mattress as we had laid our freshly laundered clothes on the couch for only a few minutes while folding them and they picked up the unmistakeable smell.
After our second sleepless night we let David know that the shower still didn't drain and that we had discovered the source of the smell. He continued to insist that a drain that can't keep up with the water from the faucet is "normal", and continued to deny there being any smell at all. Worse, he became angry, raised his voice almost to the point of yelling, and made personal attacks saying he knew when he met us that we were trouble. How or why he could think this I don't know, but the bottom line is that it was clear that we weren't happy with the place and he wasn't happy with having us as guests. We offered to move out if he would refund our unused days. He refused. Not being able to stand the smell another day, we decided to leave a day early anyway (without refund) and booked a nice, clean hotel in Fiumicino for our last night in Italy.
It is unfortunate that our visit in Rome was ruined by this experience. Our clothes required between 1 and 3 washes to rid them of the smell they picked up. We aired out our luggage for a week in the garage before putting them away, yet they still harbour the smell 2 months later. We went away this past weekend and used the same carry-on that we had in that apartment. When I pulled out a t-shirt that sat in the suitcase for a couple of days, it came out smelling of that apartment in Rome.
I have reviewed hundreds of restaurants and hotels and always strive to provide fair and objective reviews. I always give the benefit of the doubt, but I cannot recommend this apartment based on our truly terrible experience.