December 23 2009
It was an old friend who works at Sotheby’s who tipped me off about my favourite hotel in Rome. The easily overlooked Locarno is where she and her colleagues usually stayed when sojourning to scout out saleable Old Masters. Now I, too, would bunk nowhere else – and not just because the nightly rates are less than half those of comparable hotels elsewhere in the city.
For one thing, the four-star pile has an ultra-convenient location, hidden on a side street in the centro storico, just off Piazza del Popolo. Another lure is the Poirot-meets-Forster vibe: the hotel straddles two buildings, the older of which was built in 1925. Inside that is a clattering but well-oiled birdcage elevator leading to renovated, floral rooms that are surprisingly bright and airy, given its location in the cramped old city centre of Rome.
The much newer annexe next door is decorated in a similarly chintzy way, but has larger rooms with spacious bathrooms, plus a basement where the enormous breakfast buffet is served. But I always opt for a billet in the older building: after a day spent tramping the hot and noisy streets of Rome, even a teetotaller like Hercule Poirot would enjoy a negroni in the wood-panelled bar here.
Double rooms from €95.