Some Useful Knacks for Finding Good Accommodation in Venice
(and then actually finding it in Venice)
Book Ahead & Get a Good Price
Much like Mary and Joseph, if you roll up to Venice on a donkey, gondola, train or bus without having pre-booked a room at an inn, you might find yourself traipsing through town for some time looking for a bed to rest your weary legs. Whilst you’re unlikely to have to bed down in an alleyway with the canal rats for a night, you will find it difficult to get a good hotel, at a good price, if you don’t book ahead and do your research.
Hotels fill up exceptionally quickly in Venice and usually months ahead. As demand far outstrips supply, it’s pretty standard to pay in the region of 150 euro a night for a double room in a two star hotel. However, if you do your homework on ye olde t’internet in good time and search and compare what’s available, you will be able to find a good hotel where the price won’t make you wince (too much). Ultimately, Venice accommodation is expensive. It helps if you just accept this up front.
Where to Look Online
Booking.com is a good place to search through all the different types of accommodation in Venice and indeed Italy, from hostels, B&B’s and five star hotels. The site allows you to input the criteria of prices you can or are willing to pay, as well as the area that you want to stay in. It offers great deals on hotels and allows you to book and pay for your accommodation upon arrival, so no upfront fees. Likewise if something crops up, you can cancel generally without charge.
Where to Stay in Venice
Venice is split into several districts, all of which offer their own charms, rates of expense, and situational advantages and disadvantages:
Everyone wants to stay in this area as it’s the closest to the famous sights of St Mark’s, the Rialto Bridge, and the Grand Canal. However this makes it the most expensive area to stay in. Hotels here are also harder to find – this area in particular is a labyrinth. Expect to be wandering around with your suitcase in one hand and your map in the other searching for your lodgings. That being said, once you find your hotel you are close to absolutely everything. Moreover, if you can afford a hotel with a stunning view on to the Grand Canal, then go for it!
Close to the Accademia Bridge and the Peggy Guggenheim museum, this is the city’s funky art quarter. It’s generally quieter in this part of town, but still relatively close to the main sights. It’s also a popular area with students, with the Ca’ Foscari University being situated nearby, meaning lots of bars and cheap vino in the bustling square of Santa Maria Margherita. I can’t lie – this is my favourite part of town to stay in. It’s a lively slice of local Venetian life.
The main street of Cannaregio, Lista di Spagna, is tourist and hotel heavy, not surprisingly because it’s the closest area to the train station. It’s therefore a very lively area, filled with bars, restaurants and souvenir shops. It’s probably also one of the cheaper areas to stay in for this reason. The nearest famous sight is the Rialto Bridge, which is a good 30 minute walk away, and St. Mark’s even further, but Cannaregio is well connected with the water bus system if you don’t want to walk. Head off the main street and the area changes immediately – this is an area you’ll see locals hanging out their washing or walking their kids to school. So if you want the location but not the inevitable noise of the main street, head off the beaten track, if you’re confident you can find your way there.
This is another popular district for tourists owing to its convenient location near the train station. Unlike its sister district, Canneregio, however, this area is much less tourist-heavy (that is, the further you stray from Piazzale Roma, where it becomes a bit more residential). Santa Croce is situated a good thirty minutes walk to the Rialto Bridge, and a further ten or so to Piazza San Marco, but a quick jump onto a vaporetto at Piazzale Roma will take you there down the Grand Canal. In the district itself, there are a few lesser known churches and museums to visit.
Situated near the rear end of Venice, Castello is an area well-located for the Arsenale and the Biennale. It’s a mixed area, being close to the tourist trail and being fairly residential at the same time. It’s a good area to stay in if you’ve been to Venice before and want to explore a different part of the city that many first-timers won’t – or don’t – go to visit, which makes it that little bit quieter. Highlights of the area are the Naval Museum, the public gardens, and the very quaint and quiet island of San Pietro.
Excellently located between the cheaper student quarter and the more expensive Rialto Bridge area, San Polo offers the best of both Venice’s worlds, i.e. expensive and less expensive. There aren’t many famous sites in this area, but they’re situated just a hop, skip, and a jump over the nearby Rialto Bridge. It’s a lovely district with lots of nice little restaurants, churches, and children playing football in the squares. Like all of Venice, you are likely to get lost in this district, but perhaps even more so here because there are less tourist signs to help you on your way!
If you could walk across water you would reach this small island adjacent to Venice in less than five minutes. Unless you’ve got messiah-like qualities, however, you will need to take the #2 vaporetto to reach this very peaceful and tranquil island. Whilst taking a waterbus to reach the main sights of Venice may feel a little inconvenient at times (particularly if you’re stumbling back to your hotel after a night on the spritz), the contrast of this lovely island where there’s hardly a tourist in sight may be a welcome relief after the intensity of tourist Venice during the day.
Despite hotels here being routinely referred to as ‘in Venice’, the Lido is actually an island close to Venice. The Lido has an abundance of hotels, many of which are cheaper than Venice, simply because they aren’t actually on Venice. If you don’t mind a daily commute to Venice (about 20 or so minutes on the vaporetto each way, depending where you want to go) and the cost of a vaporetto pass, then the Lido could be for you, especially if you’ve got kids. With its Spanish holiday resort feel – complete with beach and English food – it could be the perfect combination of a beach holiday with Venetian culture just a vaporetto ride away.
Any hotel that says its situated in Mestre Venice is not actually located in Venice. Mestre is a town situated just outside of Venice, and though prices will be considerably cheaper there, it would mean a daily commute by bus to Venice. Many hotels in Mestre lay on a shuttle bus, which is great, but it takes away the freedom of popping back to your hotel for an afternoon nap or to drop off your many bags of shopping. It’s worth paying extra for the convenience of being in Venice itself.
What Hotel to Stay in
I’ve stayed in a few different hotels in different areas and generally had good experiences. I’ve listed below the places I’ve stayed in and tried to be honest about them all! If you can recommend any other hotels, let me know and I can add them!
Hotel Guerrini – Cannaregio
This two star hotel is situated in a relatively private little courtyard in the very centre of Cannaregio, on the main tourist thoroughfare, Lista di Spagna. It’s incredibly easy to find, being more or less a straight walk from the train station with only one bridge to navigate. It’s not to everyone’s taste – the decor is a little dated and there isn’t a lift. However, it’s a great price and I found it very comfortable.
Hotel Eden – Cannaregio
It may be classed as a three star hotel but the slightly dated decor and small rooms makes this hotel seem a little less classy. Nonetheless, I found it comfortable enough and the staff were very helpful. It’s situated relatively close to the Ca’ d’oro museum and vaporetto station (and McDonalds!), and lots of small clothes and chocolate stores.
Hotel Belle Arti – Dorsoduro
This three star hotel is located in an excellent yet quiet location, just a stone’s throw away from the Accademia Bridge and 20 or so minutes from St. Mark’s square. It’s also an easy couple of minutes walk from the nearby vaporetto station, with not one bridge to cross over! The hotel is nicely decorated, reasonably priced, and has friendly and helpful staff.
Pensione Seguso – Dorsoduoro
This two star accommodation has amazing views over the Giudecca canal (assuming you book a front-facing room). Its decor is traditional and a little bit dated, but it’s clean and well located to the Accademia Bridge and Peggy Gugenheim museum. The breakfast is a bit miserable and the cheaper rooms mean sharing a bathroom, but if this doesn’t bother you then go for it.
Hotel Domina Giudecca – Giudecca
The first time I walked into this hotel I had to confirm with the receptionist what I was paying for my stay. It’s such a sophisticated and well decorated three star hotel I was convinced that they’d quoted me the wrong price. Excellent breakfast, cute little bar, and very comfortable and clean rooms. This is by far my favourite hotel in Venice. Being situated on the Giudecca island, it may be a little out the way for some people, but it’s well worth finding.
Truly Venice – Apartments located throughout Venice
I’ve stayed in two apartments owned by the company Truly Venice, one situated in Cannaregio and the other in Dorsoduro. The apartments are very well-kept and have everything you can possibly need. Generally I’ve had a good experience as has most others I know who have used the company. The staff are helpful upon booking and meet you to take your apartment. They also provide a map and lots of handy hints to help with your visit. My only quibble is that if there is a problem (like being locked out of your apartment in the middle of the night thanks to a dodgy lock) they are unlikely to help you. Nonetheless, I like staying in a vacation apartment; you can get up whenever you want, take it easy, make your own meals, and return for an afternoon nap whenever the fancy takes you.
Last Words of Wisdom
Scared of getting lost? Try and book a hotel that is near to a vaporetto station or has very clear instructions on how to reach it. There’s nothing more stressful than lugging suitcases through the labyrinth of Venice’s streets, hot, bothered, and extremely lost. If you’ve never been to Venice before, take the easy route, literally. When booking your hotel, look to see how close it is to the nearest vaporetto stop. The farther and more tucked away your hotel is, the more likely you will get very lost trying to find it. Even those who take an (expensive) water taxi still get lost, as not all taxis can dock right outside a hotel, so consider the location of your hotel carefully. If you do go off the beaten track for your hotel, look up reviews on Trip Advisor for tips on how other travellers found their hotel.