At once sceney and classic, having compromised none of its original Art Deco charm, Hotel Locarno is an enduring hangout for filmmakers, artists and Fendi-toting Romans alike. Indeed, this is the most Roman of Rome’s hotels, where locals still fill the wisteria-draped courtyard on a warm evening for aperitivo. With a rattling art-nouveau birdcage elevator and rooms individually decorated with period pieces, it looks and feels more like a quirky, aristocratic home than one of the city’s other grande-dame hotels.
Style & Surrounds
The design? The spirit of Art Deco runs throughout the original 1920s property and annexed 1905 palazzo (which are connected by the central courtyard), with oil paintings, parquet floors and embellished ceiling stuccoes.
The scene? On a busy evening, Locarno attracts a steady parade of polished bohemians and local celebrities in the courtyard, cocktail bar and, during the warm months, the rooftop terrace.
The surrounds? Wedged between the Tiber and bustling Piazza del Popolo, the hotel is a short walk from shopping hubs Via Condotti and Via di Ripetta, with any number of high-fashion flagships, antique shops, the ateliers of hat-makers, jewelers and perfumers, and a slew of independent modern-art galleries such as the Gagosian, the Galleria Russo and Magazzino.
Day beyond the hotel? Given Locarno’s central location, you can happily spend a day on foot to make the most of the aforementioned shopping or to tread the typical Roman path admiring the nearby Piazza di Spagna, Chiesa della Trinitá de’Monti, Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. Slightly further afield lie some of the city’s most characterful neighborhoods, including Monti with its small-scale boutiques and wine bars.
Which celebrity or character from fiction would set up camp here? You could imagine La Grande Bellezza director Paolo Sorrentino taking up residence—or even his filmmaking forebear Fellini (who, as it happens, was once a habitué of the bar here.)
The room type: No two rooms at the same at the Locarno, each being decorated with a careful selection of antique fixtures, lavish draperies, and period pieces, as well as individual fixtures in the marbled bathrooms.
Bolt-hole, palatial or something in-between? The rooms are comfortably large, with enough extra space for the day beds and antique desks.
Room with view? While the street views are more pleasant than dramatic, the Premium Corner rooms look towards the cupolas of Piazza del Popolo.
Tub, towels, and toiletries? The throwback feel extends to the bathrooms, which are fitted with marbled surfaces, gilded porcelain and clawfoot tubs.
The turndown touches? Aside from the differing décor in each room, there are old-school touches like tasseled keys and liquorice candies in vintage wrapping.
If you could, what would you steal? Perhaps smuggling out some of the bar’s grappa or amaro in a hip flask.
Room for improvement? Given Locarno’s heritage, there is a certain faded patina and the odd design quirk, but the hotel still more than exceeds the standard measures of comfort.
Lobby, Bar & Amenities
The bar? The indoor bar features wrought-iron French doors, low lighting and art nouveau lamps. While its accompanying courtyard is packed with guests during the warmer months, the rooftop terrace also opens its doors to commanding views across Rome. A highlight from the drinks’ menu is the hotel’s own creation, the Roma Bracciano, a moodier cousin of the Negroni made with Campari, Carpano Antica formula, Rabarbaro Zucca and orange bitter.
How was the restaurant? The restaurant’s menu is great at a pinch—the kitchen putting a deft hand to Mediterranean and Italian fare such as salt cod-filled ravioli with artichokes and bottarga—but nearby are some of Rome’s great dining experiences, including stalwart trattoria Armando Al Pantheon and modern-day favorite Roscioli.
Salon, spa and treatments: While there’s no pool or spa to speak of, there is a small outdoor gym area with pilates, yoga and gym classes available on request.
Be warned about: Remaining steadfastly faithful to its old-world credentials, Locarno has resisted retrofitting rooms with too many gadgets and mod cons, but that, in itself, is part of the charm.
The Green Card
PRIOR preferences hotels with green credentials who give back in a real way to their communities. The following criteria were modeled in partnership with Bouteco, a social enterprise celebrating truly sustainable hotels.
Hotel Locarno undertakes a number of environmental measures to reduce its water and energy usage, including the option to reuse towels during your stay to minimize laundry, shutting off air-conditioning when the windows are open and during the winter season, and an internal recycling program.
The hotel sponsors a green area in Rome’s city center in order to take care of the space and preserve it as a public amenity.
Address Via della Penna, 22, Rome.
Check-in 2.30 pm.
Number of rooms 44 rooms split between the main building and annexed palazzo.
Activities An outdoor area is available for pilates, yoga and gym classes available on request.
Restaurant The bar’s kitchen does a full menu of Mediterranean-leaning fare.
Families A crib or rollaway bed is available for children.