Following its announcement last week that Pope Francis has decided to live in the Domus Sanctae Martae guesthouse rather than the Papal Apartments, The Vatican now says it plans to turn the lavishly decorated official suite into a vacation rental.
“Pope Francis supports this approach,” says Rev. Franco Bertonelli, a spokesman for the Institute of Religious Works, commonly known as the Vatican Bank. “He doesn’t want to see perfectly good shelter go to waste.”
The Holy Father’s modest tendencies have been much publicized since his election last month. He also opted against riding in the bulletproof “Pope Mobile” in favor of an open-air vehicle.
The Vatican registered an unusually high $15 million budget deficit last year. Hospitality experts estimate that allowing overnight guests into the holy quarters could generate about $1 million per year.
As vacation accommodations, the Papal Apartments complex is without equal in Vatican City. It sprawls across 10 rooms in the Apostolic Palace, overlooking St. Peter’s Square, and features original 16th century architecture, Renaissance frescoes and inlaid marble floors. The main bedroom sits on the Seconda Loggia, where the pope delivers a blessing to crowds on the square every morning. Guests can use the sitting room and recently renovated kitchen with a built-in Miele espresso machine, but the medical suite and the staff’s quarters remain off-limits.
Rates begin at $1,495 per night and include unlimited bread and water and use of the bulletproof Pope Mobile. Those who book the suite can add on a “Swiss Guard for a Day” experience and a private blessing upgrade. Payment must be made by leaving cash or check in a collection plate in the suite.
The development is the latest example of the pope’s everyman tastes and desire to interact with the public. Last week, he became an authorized “Destination Expert” on Trip Advisor’s Vatican City forum.