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The entranceway of the St Regis Rome

Walking the paths of the ancient Romans – with a modern edge

Rome is a city that’s built by its history as much as it is by the storied institutions that line its streets. Several hotels have taken it upon themselves to revitalise themselves

Aristocratic St. Regis Rome and bohemian Hotel Locarno

Rome is a city that’s built by its history as much as it is by the storied institutions that line its streets. Several hotels have taken it upon themselves to revitalise themselves – all without straying too far from their fabled roots.

Opened in 1894, the St. Regis Rome was nothing short of a landmark in the city’s sprawling history. During the first half of the 20th century, the St. Regis Rome was often used by the Italian royal family as an informal extension of the nearby Quirinal Palace. Mussolini himself held an office in the building – which subsequently hosted the first meeting between the provisional government and the triumphant resistance. The hotel also played host to numerous court events, hosting international dignitaries, blue bloods, and Hollywood legends of yore alike.

The lobby of the St Regis Rome
The lobby of the St Regis Rome

With a pedigree like that, undertaking the renovation of a building as emblematic as the St. Regis Rome would be, understandably, no small task. It took two years, somewhere in excess of $50 million, and the eagle-eyed mentorship of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma – Rome’s premier academy of the arts – for the hotel’s modern facelift to complete.

The Imperial Room at the St Regis Rome
The Imperial Room at the St Regis Rome

In the fully-restored lobby, a regal palette of black and gold caresses arched entryways and fluted columns alike, with the hotel’s original grand staircase revived to its former palatial glory. The mood in each of the property’s 138 guestrooms is more muted, with powdery blues and warm shades of terracotta lending the updated rooms an air of understated luxury. www.stregisrome.com

For a less aristocratic and more bohemian experience, make like the famed artisans of 20th century Rome and visit the boutique Hotel Locarno. With ornate art nouveau fittings and wrought iron details that recall a bygone era, Hotel Locarno is both an institution and an inextricable landmark on the city’s golden streets.

Hotel Locarno's intimate outdoor lounge by night
Hotel Locarno’s intimate outdoor lounge by night

A room at the Hotel Locarno Rome
A room at the Hotel Locarno Rome

The city’s thrumming pulse can be felt throughout Hotel Locarno, which is perched between the River Tiber and the bustling Piazza del Popolo. A gamut of independent shops and artisans offering handmade goods, perfumes and foodstuffs can be found lining the streets around the building.

Marbled bathrooms at the Hotel Locarno Rome
Marbled bathrooms at the Hotel Locarno Rome

A suite at the Hotel Locarno Rome
A suite at the Hotel Locarno Rome

Hotel Locarno takes its status as a haven for creatives very seriously. Unique touches are abound in this artisan hotel, where rooms are opened with tasselled keys and a bird-cage lift takes guests from floor to floor. A cavernous, curved library stocked with thick, velvet armchairs seal the deal. Despite the hotel’s artisan strokes, guests are very much guaranteed unparalleled levels of modern comforts and amenities.

Whether you prefer to walk the streets of the Eternal City in the gilded footsteps of emperors and royals, or as one of the vaunted creatives that gave heat to the city’s veins, you’re guaranteed to be immersed into another world. www.hotellocarno.com

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© This article was first published online in Nov 2018 – World Travel Magazine.
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