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Where to Stay in Venice
The main city of Venice is divided into six districts, called sestieri, and there are numerous hotel choices in each one. The sestieri with the greatest concentrations of hotels are both on the north side of the Grand Canal: San Marco, the most centrally located and arguably most scenic district, and Cannaregio, the location of the train depot and where you’re most likely to find cheap hotel deals in Venice. The third sestiere north of the Grand Canal is Castello, and the three on the south side are Santa Croce, Dorsoduro and San Polo.
This centralized cluster of neighborhoods is surrounded by a scattering of small outer islands in the lagoon, but with the exception of Giudecco, the island to the south, there aren’t many hotel options among them.
A completely different hotel experience awaits on the Lido, the narrow beach island just east of Venice. Consider this locale if you want the convenience of the beach steps from your hotel door, with easy access to the city for sightseeing.
Venice Hotel Tips
You can expect the same range of accommodations in Venice as you’ll find in other major cities throughout Italy and Europe; at higher rates, you can stay in extravagant vacation resorts, and if you want to maximize your savings, there are several small, no-frills options in less scenic neighborhoods. But overall, lodging in Venice is more expensive than in any other Italian destination, and pricier accommodations don’t always mean bigger rooms or better amenities. High demand for rooms and the postcard settings that surround most Venetian hotels are the major reasons why rates stay high, so you shouldn’t assume that a hotel has any features that you haven’t verified. Conveniences like elevators and air conditioning are often unavailable at the most basic lodging establishments.
Hotels on the Lido are generally less expensive than those in the city, and the most affordable area among Venice’s sestieri is by far Cannaregio.
Venice Hotel Recommendations
If you can afford to stay within a few blocks of Piazza San Marco, the Bauer il Palazzo is one of the most modern and luxurious hotels in the area. It is connected to and affiliated with the older Hotel Bauer, which has lower rates but smaller rooms and less alluring canal views. Its Mediterranean restaurants are popular among tourists and well-to-do locals, so you may want to stop by for lunch or dinner even if staying elsewhere.
In the more competitively priced Cannaregio sestiere, Hotel Giorgione is a quiet 16th century retreat with charming design details. All rooms are individually appointed and many have unique floor plans; inquire when booking to see if any canal-view terrace rooms will be available during your stay.
On the east side of the city, in the Castello sestiere, look into Londra Palace if you insist on having an excellent view of the lagoon and surrounding islands. The rooms and facilities are very high quality for the price, but the hotel is best known as the site where Tchaikovsky wrote his 4th Symphony.
If you’d rather stay near the beach and get a little more hotel for your money, the Hotel des Bains on the Lido has two landscaped swimming pools, tennis courts, a full-service spa, water sports rentals and an excellent restaurant with 24-hour room service.
There are no cars in central Venice, its outer islands or on the Lido, so your transportation options are restricted to watercraft and your own two feet. Fortunately, all of these areas are easy to walk, especially with no road traffic to worry about. Signs pointing out directions to major attractions and facilities are spread throughout the city, so you can feel free to wander and get lost, knowing you’ll be able to navigate your way back to your hotel using these reference points.
When you want to traverse the waterways, you have four options. The most common and least expensive is the vaporetti, a fleet of water buses that runs extensive routes through the area. Water taxis will quickly take you directly to your destination for a somewhat steeper rate. The most expensive method is by gondola, but you get what you pay for; the quintessential Venetian experience, a romantic tour led by a singing gondolier is one of the best ways to see the city. The final option, hiring private watercraft, varies greatly in price depending on the type of craft, the distance traveled and the time involved. Hiring such services makes sense if you’re taking a guided tour of the area or making excursions along the coast, but it’s not practical for most transportation within Venice.
To get to your hotel after your flight to Venice arrives, there are several forms of public and for-hire land transportation that will take you to Piazzale Roma, where you can transfer to a vaporetto to complete your journey. A more scenic method is to take the motoscafo, a shuttle boat from the airport to Piazza San Marco that departs several times per day.