Consistently popular and desperately romantic despite its surprising three-star status, the Locarno is one of the rare hotels in Rome that manages to deliver well to all budgets. There’s a distinct feeling of clandestine capers going on behind the wooden doors and illicit kisses in the perilous birdcage lift, a leftover from the building’s first incarnation as a five-star hotel in 1925. Run with an iron rod by the matriarch Caterina Valente, the Locarno has 48 rooms in the older building, but for unrivalled, sumptuous romance get a suite next door, in the restructured Venetian patrician palazzo, which is more private and perfect for an amorous weekend. There’s also a lovely sun-bleached roof terrace for tea, a chat or a sunbathe. Having accommodated everyone from impoverished artists (such as Michelangelo Pistoletto) to rich lovers, it’s no wonder this hotel gives the impression that it is harbouring a few secrets behind its Art Deco walls. Free bicycles are on offer for the brave.