Roman Holiday: Hotel Locarno

When choosing a hotel for this trip I consulted every site imaginable, reaching out to both friends and family for advice. A friend and colleague in the events business recommended the Locarno, a hotel where she had stayed on a business trip a few years back.  I was on the fence for quite awhile, debating between the Empire and the Locarno, traveling as a single woman it was important that the location be central and safe, with easy access to the front desk should something go awry. I chose the Locarno based on her recommendation and the opinions of other single/married women to whom I proposed the options.

With an address close to the Villa Borghese Gardens, the shopping districts (Via Babuino & Via del Corso) and the Metro, the Hotel Locarno is centrally located in a quiet street adjacent to both the river and the northern entrance to the city. Hotel Locarno could be an ideal situation for business and leisure travelers, but buyer beware. From my experience they cater to pairs, families and groups; single adults are not high on their priority list.

I booked the hotel through Expedia, and consciously chose to reserve a room in the hotel (as opposed to their annex Hotel Anahi located nearby). Prior to my arrival I emailed them to ensure that the room in the hotel would be non-smoking and then asked if they would also be able to arrange for luggage storage.

Upon arrival at 6AM, I was told that I would have to wait until the proper 2PM check-in time, no surprises (yet). While having coffee in the salon I surveyed my fellow “neighbors” noting older couples, families with children, and a selection of business travelers, mostly in groups of two and three.

I spent the day touring and returned at half past two eager to unpack, freshen up and change into cooler clothing. Exhausted I went up to the check-in counter and was told that not only would I not be staying in the main hotel but that the room would not be ready for another 45 minutes. For those of you who know me I’m fairly easygoing and accommodating, I rarely get angry and don’t enjoy conjuring my “Brooklyn” side to deal with these things. But their carrot as I waited was a complimentary drink, as if a glass of wine were going to help! I would’ve fallen asleep at the bar, and told them as much. Miraculously a short time after, a room (still in the Annex) was available.

The double room was located on the fourth floor of a pensione, accessible by stairs and an elevator. I went ahead of the bellhop to inspect the room. It was adequate and quaint, with a small patio. The bathroom was a good size though it only had a bathtub (more on that later), and the window looked out onto an air shaft. I found out later in the week the shaft also housed the pipes for the septic tank (the one night I thought it was raining). I was grateful for the cell phone rental when I realized the room did not have an alarm clock. And found it amusing that the television was out of order, as if the annex knew that I didn’t watch TV. The annex was quiet for the most part, save the two times I was awoken by a domestic dispute in the neighboring apartments. Actually it was quite comical a la The Honeymooners listening to the drunk husband and complacent wife shouting at one another in Italian, cursing in English.

Luckily before disembarking from the plane, I read Rick Steves Back Door Travel Philosophy (page 17 in the 2010 Rome guide) and made a promise to myself to make the most out of every moment good or bad, during my travels. Advice that almost always comes in handy the moment you walk out your front door.

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