For at least four decades, Hotel Locarno (hotellocarno.com; from €210) has been Rome’s nexus for artists, filmmakers, flâneurs and the broadly creatively inclined, who gravitate to its wisteria-draped garden, burnished bar and timeless (if ever so slightly délabré) rooms. I had my first of many aperitivi here back in 1993 or 1994, but never actually stayed the night until several weeks ago.
A recent renovation – the délabré done with, but the old-world style not forsaken – is doubtless part of what makes it so good. But what really impressed was how the two-block street the Locarno is on has blossomed into a micro-destination in its own right: the likes of jeweller Lucia Odescalchi, milliner Patrizia Fabri and the founders of fragrance house Eau d’Italie have all opened here at the encouragement of the Locarno’s owner Caterina Valente, having chosen it over other potentially far more lucrative shopping arteries. It’s a dynamic example of how a hotel can shape life in a city in meaningful ways.