Where To Stay in Venice

Venice is one of the most unique, remarkable and romantic cities on the planet.   The city firmly remains a fairy tale of a destination, with its seemingly endless maze of narrow streets and murky canals, punctuated with grand palazzos, but still how does one not get discouraged with the mass tourism? That is the subject we will discuss in this report. First of all, be assured that Venice can be a lovely and rewarding destination to visit most anytime of the year outside of probably August, but visiting during high season just requires a little more thought and maybe a little adjustment of ones expectations. You just have to adjust your trip according to what you want out of Venice, along with the time of year.

 

First, a little background on Venice tourism. Venice has one of the highest rates of tourism per capita anywhere in the world. Venice is beautiful and unique, and we are not the only ones who want to experience it. Venice hosts 30,000,000 tourists per year, an average of 55,000 per day, about equal to the number of its residents. During the season from Mid April through September, cruise ships alone are responsible for 32,000 visitors per day. The tough part though is that the far majority of tourists visit from the end of April to the middle of September, with Mid June through August being especially busy. Tourist numbers of 80,000 per day in August are now common. At the same time in August, half the locals are out of the city on their own vacations. 

 

Now a little demographic background; the city has a population of about 260,000, which has not increased greatly in the last 40 years. But what has changed is where people live. 60,000 people live in the historic center, about 20,000 in the lagoon area and the balance on the mainland areas of Venice. The big change has been that in 1980, there were 120,000 in the historic center, in 1950, there were 175,000.  The current population of central Venice is about what it was in 1000 AD. There are now more Venetians living on the mainland than in Venice. The burdens of over tourism are actually forcing people to leave the historic center, destroying the quality of life and making it difficult to develop a more balanced economy for the areas young people and middle class.  We must always, remember that Venice is a treasure and we want to be part of the solution to her problems, not part of the cause.

 

So, what is one to do? First of all, avoid August. Secondly choose your accommodations based upon area and the season that you will be visiting in. Venice has a huge choice of accommodations to fit any need or desire. Many accommodations are some of the most unique venues in the world. Your accommodation can be and should be an important component of your experience, one that you will remember for the rest of your life. We at Specialty Cruise and Villas specialize in luxury experiential travel and our recommendations will reflect that philosophy. But do keep in in mind that accommodations in Venice are not inexpensive. The costs of maintenance and construction are very high(no cars or trucks), and everything is built on pilings. The fight against moisture is constant. So figure on spending considerably more here than in most destinations, but also know that your accommodations can be very special, and that is what we are here to help you with.

 

Now that you know a little about the background situation, let’s get down to the specifics of choosing an accommodation. The periods from late September to late October, and from April 1 to May 15 are the best times to visit in our opinion. The city will not be empty, but not too crowded either, and the weather should be good. 

Next best would be Early to mid September and May 15 to June 15. It will be getting more crowded, but the weather will be great. Next would be the Winter time(with the exception of Carnival) and early Spring from Jan to the end of March. It might be cold occasionally, it could even snow a bit, but the city will be relatively uncrowded, and being in Venice without the crowds is just glorious and a very special experience. You can also experience how real Venetians live and be part of the solution to the over tourism problem. November and December is the rainy period, and quite uncrowded. You might even experience the “Agua Alta” flooding during this time, though this is not a huge issue, as it is tidal and only lasts a number of hours.  If you must travel in the summer, avoid August, and consider an accommodation away from the “tourist tracks”, or even in the lagoon. The lagoon is still very authentic and is perfect for the summer. A lagoon experience can be a truly memorable, and we are recommending it more frequently all the time, especially pre or post cruise when our clients have already been to Venice before.

 

 First, we will discuss low season, from late October through mid-April, with the exception of Carnival. During this period you can pretty much stay anywhere in Venice and have a wonderful experience. Venice can be damp and cold at times, but the city without crowds is truly magnificent, no matter the weather. At this time of the year we would suggest an accommodation near the center of things, either a great room in an atmospheric hotel, or an apartment rental, if you are staying more than three or four days, don’t need all the services of a five star hotel, and want to live more like a Venetian.

 

Our specific recommendations are as follows. We will discuss specific rooms within these properties a little later.  

 

If you want to experience a magnificent Venetian palazzo in all its glory and classic style (and this is an experience only available in Venice), you might choose the Gritti Palace or Ca' Sagredo. If you like your palazzo with a little edgier style, consider Palazzo Venart, or Pallazina G. Or, if you want your palazzo truly magnificent and a little “edgy”, but at the same time being one of the planet’s truly great hotels, choose the new Aman.  If you wish to live like a local in your own Venetian apartment, we have five or six recommendations that you will never forget and are in still functioning residential areas.

 

Now, in season, from May to October, and certainly from June-September, we suggest that you, first of all, stay a day or two longer during this period, as you may want to do most of your touring in the early morning or evening when the cruise ships are not around, and enjoy a leisurely lunch and rest before dinner, avoiding the crowds as much as possible.  A nice lifestyle, but it might take a bit longer to see the sights on your bucket list, so the need for a little more time. Also, stay a bit out of the tourist center. We like Guidecca Island, only 300 meters from the center, across the Guidecca canal, easily accessible by boat, but almost a different world. Here many Venetians still live a normal residential existence, and most tourists never venture. Take a look at this short video of Guideccia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxmx3_e1BOs   There is a really great world class hotel here, The Belmond Cipriani, which is special in almost all respects; views, food, facilities, and just plain class. It also has a beautiful pool, which might be much appreciated during the warm summer months. Another nice hotel, in another residential area, this time in the area known as Cannaregio, near the Jewish Ghetto, a great neighborhood full of real Venetians, nice restaurants and bars, and few tourists, about a twenty minute scenic walk to St Marks Square, is Hotel Dei Dogi, right on the water with one of the largest gardens in Venice. 

 

Also, during high season, you might consider one of two luxury hotels on their own islands, the San Clemente Palace and the JW Marriot Venice Resort. Both are a 10-15 minute shuttle boat ride from the center and offer all resort facilities away from the hordes of day trippers. They offer real refuges during the summer season. Or you might consider staying on one of the lagoon islands, like Burano or Mazzorbo. Two great accommodations, under the same ownership are the Venissa Wine resort on Mazzorbo and Casa Burano, across a bridge on Burano. The former is a bucolic rural paradise on an agricultural island next to a vineyard with a couple great restaurants, one having earned a Michelin star, while the latter are restored small homes on the ridiculously quaint island of Burano, which have been turned into individual suites. You might use this as a base to explore the Venetian lagoon, which in any case is the “real” Venice, and to take day trips into Venice proper, 20 to 40 minutes away. You could also choose to stay in an apartment in any of the less trampled of Venice’s neighborhoods, or rent a villa in a the lagoon.

 

 

 

 

Now, let’s talk about the specific accommodation details!

Grand Canal Palazzo's

The Aman experience begins at the airport, where you are ushered on to a sleek timber paneled motor launch and whisked straight to the hotel. All of the 24 Suites are of a one-off design, and many have protected frescos that highlight Italy’s best periods of are and architecture.  Aman has also managed to retain its own classic clean-line aesthetic, creating a stunning mix of styles, which really work.  A discreet street gate entrance with intercom, which deters the casual visitors who parade through other palazzo hotels as if they are public museums.  The shady garden and wonderful roof terrace (with stunning views over the rooftops of Venice) present guests with some perfect relaxation spots the lack of hotel-style signage adds to its privacy.  The tours curated by Aman, which include unique excursions accompanied by local writers, cooks and art historians, as well as after-hours private access to the Doge’s Palace, are some of the best in town.  This is more of a home than a hotel – owners Count Giberto and Countess Bianca Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga, and their five children, whose family has owned the palazzo for centuries, and whose connections make many of the special tours possible, continue to live here and greet their ‘house guests’ with great enthusiasm.  This is one of the world’s finest hotels, a unique collaboration between a noble Venetian family and Aman Hotels, and is our top choice in Venice.  Each suite is different in size and layout, having been restored from the original structure, as has the whole hotel, rather than being built anew.  The Aman is one of those rare hotels where one can happily reside in pretty much any of the 24 available suites.  Given the run of the house, we would opt for the Maddalena Suite, and avoid the quirky Alcova Tiepolo Suite – although it secures ‘top billing’ rate wise, it is a little too museum-like.

 

Explore Property -  http://aman.com/resorts/aman-venice

Aman

 This palazzo is also very classic Venetian in style, with its impressive Byzantine pink façade, ground-floor reception area leading straight onto the Grand Canal across from the Rialto Market, and a 15th-century, frescoed grand staircase. Either immerse yourself in history or indulge in 21st-century Venetian style, with a choice of historical or more contemporary accommodation. We like the Heritage Suites, particularly Arts and Stucco for their art. Stucco also has a terrace leading from the bathroom, which overlooks the courtyard. However, if you prefer to have more space and slightly less art, book Sebastiano Ricci – it’s 30 square meters larger. Of the Grand Canal Suites, the one with the ‘four-lights window’ is a great choice with fabulous views along the Grand Canal. Sagredo Venetian Suite 407 has a private rooftop deck but no Grand Canal vistas. Double room 305 is good value with a view of the Grand Canal. Sagredo Venetian Junior Suite 112 is also a favorite – it is very spacious and situated towards the back of the hotel, with a view over Campo Santa Sofia. Junior Suites 104 and 308 are excellent, too – they’re smaller than 112, but overlook the Grand Canal. If money is no object, go for the Grand Canal Panoramic Suite. This property may not be quite as slick in all regards as the Gritti, but is a bit less expensive, too.

Explore Property - https://www.casagredohotel.com 

Ca’ Sagredo-

A 16th century, elegant palazzo on the Grand Canal with its own impressive water entrance. It is a little hard to find on foot, an advantage we think. This is the best boutique-style option, with just 18 rooms on two floors. Polished black marble, subdued lighting, contemporary furnishings and lots of mirrors create a sleek and seductive mood. The young and passionate staff are clearly proud of their hotel – this is clear in the numerous special touches. There isn’t a restaurant on site, but there is a jewel of a bar, which is perfect for after dinner drinks. There is no bad room in this small boutique hotel but we highly recommend the Junior Suites. Junior Suite number 8 is our particular preference, but if you want the full Grand Canal experience then you should opt for number 10, one of the best value Grand Canal experiences in Venice. Classic Room 2 is a good-value option.

Explore Property - https://www.palazzobarbarigo.com/en/

Palazzo Barbarigo

The 19th Century palace was the first hotel by Philippe Stark in Italy. And we like that it’s subtly done. Paying homage to Venice, he has used huge lampshades, lots of mirrors, candles and Baroque couches to create a unique ambience – but the hotel still maintains a classic feel. A chic, design-led hotel in a historical city. We consider this to be one of the most stylish and seductive hotels in Venice. As for the rooms, we like the one-and-only Suite (number 321), with its entrance straight off the elevator, and two terraces; Junior Suite 218, which is split level and has 

a terrace; Grand Canal Apartment 101, despite its small bathroom; and, of course, the JD Apartment. If a Grand Canal view is not imperative, go for Suite Apartment 304, which has two bathrooms and a large daybed in the lounge. Note: the restaurant and bar are open until late some nights and the music can be quite loud for guests on the floor directly above. https://www.palazzinagrassi.com

Palazzina G

This pretty Palazzo, located in the Santa Croce neighborhood, has one of the very few gardens in Venice, running alongside an inner courtyard, leading down to the Grand Canal.  The hotel’s Glam restaurant, by Italian celebrity chef Enrico Bartolini overlooks the gardens and is a hidden jewel in the Venice dining scene.  It just earned its second Michelin star, but is still probably the most reasonable Michelin starred restaurant in Venice.  Arrive by private motor launch and alight onto the lavender edged pathway leading into the pink palace.  Although they are small, we like the Classic Rooms with terrace on the top floor of the hotel – especially during the long summer evenings.  If you want the luxury of a large room and private terrace, then the Andrea Palladio Deluxe Suite is the one for you.  All suites located on the ‘piano nobile’ – traditionally the second floor – have high ceilings and tall windows giving the best views from the hotel.  Of these our favorite is the Lord Byron Suite. 

Explore Property - https://palazzovenart.com/en/

Palazzo Venart

Very centrally located, a great choice for low or mid season, with classic Venetian luxury and elegance, directly on the Grand Canal, not far from St Marks’s Square. The hotel was once the home of Doge Andrea Gritti and many of the furnishings are museum pieces. The bar features art worth many millions of dollars, but competes with its own terrace, one of the best in Venice on which to linger or have a drink. Some of the lower end rooms are a bit small though  and for the full experience, we suggest you reserve a Giglio Prestige or higher room. All are unique, some with Grand Canal views.

 

Explore Property - http://bit.ly/GrittiPalace_SCV

The Gritti Palace

Four bedroom apartment directly on the Grand Canal with what might be the best terrace in the city https://www.specialtyvillas.com/villas/venezia-cinque/

 

 

Live like a Doge in your own Grand Canal Palazzo https://www.specialtyvillas.com/villas/venezia-deici/

If hotels aren't your thing...
 
 

Centrally Located Luxury Apartments

Palazzo Cristo offers three private, spacious and elegantly appointed apartment suites in a 13th-century building in the heart of Venice, overlooking the lively and local Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo. It is a luxurious and contemporary take on traditional Venetian accommodation.

 

Explore Property -  http://palazzocristo.com

Palazzo Cristo

Lovely designer apartment with hotel services, not far from St. Mark’s Square.  Beautiful contemporary Italian design, but the best part is the special experiences the owner can offer you. 

Explore Property - https://www.casafloravenezia.com

Casa Flora
 

Off the Beaten Track Venice

One of the world’s most iconic hotels. We consider it to be a good option in the summer months, when this magical city can be hot and crowded. You can escape to the tranquillity of the Cipriani’s peaceful location on Guidecca Island and enjoy the three acres of gardens and the glamorous outdoor pool. Great Michelin star dining is available in the restaurant. 

 

Explore Property -  https://www.belmond.com/hotels/europe/italy/venice/belmond-hotel-cipriani/about

Belmond Hotel Cipriani

A luxurious, 72-room converted palazzo in the northern edge of Venice is a quiet retreat from the chaotic heart of the city, but still located in a vibrant residential neighborhood full of interesting restaurants and 

bars, a scenic 20 minute walk to St. Marks. The rare, private garden and spa with hot tub, sauna, and steam room are highlights. Rooms have classic decor and Venetian portraits, but upgrading to a Junior Suite or above gets guests more space and style -- these rooms have high ceilings and intricate crown molding.  The hotel, though a ways from Venice’s main attractions, does offer free water taxi service to St. Mark's Square and Murano. 

 

Explore Property -  https://www.dahotels.com/grand-hotel-dei-dogi-venezia/ 

Grand Hotel Dei Dogi

A luxurious, 72-room converted palazzo in the northern edge of Venice is a quiet retreat from the chaotic heart of the city, but still located in a vibrant residential neighborhood full of interesting restaurants and 

bars, a scenic 20 minute walk to St. Marks. The rare, private garden and spa with hot tub, sauna, and steam room are highlights. Rooms have classic decor and Venetian portraits, but upgrading to a Junior Suite or above gets guests more space and style -- these rooms have high ceilings and intricate crown molding.  The hotel, though a ways from Venice’s main attractions, does offer free water taxi service to St. Mark's Square and Murano. 

 

Explore Property -  https://www.dahotels.com/grand-hotel-dei-dogi-venezia/ 

Palazzo Morosoni degli Spezieri

Housed within a renovated 16th-century convent built by famous Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio, this boutique p roberty on the island of Giudecca is about 10 minutes from St. Mark’s by solar-powered launch the hotel comprises 50 rooms and suites featuring original tapestries, period furniture and wrought-iron headboards.  Some come with whirlpool tubs and separate showers.  Momorable views of St. Mark’s and Doge’s Palace, however, are confined to a few rooms such as the seven doubles on the second floor and Junior Suite #127.  A restaurant overlooks a  private garden, and spacious and beautifully decorated spa contains a relaxation area with lagoon views, eight treatment rooms, a gym and a Turkish hammam.  The property is closed November to March. 

Explore Property - https://bauerpalladio.hotelinvenice.com

Palladio Hotel & Spa

Awesome apartment on Guidecca with garden and large private indoor pool. 

Must see the pictures to believe it.  https://www.specialtyvillas.com/villas/venezia-trentotto-private/

 

Beautiful contemporary palazzo in a virtually untrampled part of Venice, designed by a world renowned Tuscan designer. https://www.specialtyvillas.com/villas/palazzocastello/ 

If hotels aren't your thing...
 

Summer Resort Style Hotels on their own Private Lagoon Islands

Perfect for summer, this peaceful resort is set in a complex that formerly housed a community of monks, located on a 17-acre private island in the Venetian Lagoon and 15 minutes by speedboat from San Marco. The public areas and 190 spacious rooms have been sumptuously renovated and feature high ceilings, stylish contemporary furnishings and Murano chandeliers. Rooms overlook either the lagoon or a centuries-old park. All lodgings include lavish marble baths, and suites offer separate sitting areas. Acquerello serves Venetian and Italian dishes and features a glamorous terrace beneath the church façade. Additionally, the hotel offers two other restaurants and three bars. Other amenities include a magnificent 65-foot outdoor pool, tennis court, three holes of pitch-and-putt golf, kids’ club, gym and impressive spa. The hotel is closed from mid-November through mid-March.

 

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San Clemente Palace Kempinski

A very interesting hotel situated on a 40 acre island in the lagoon, 15 minutes by shuttle boat from St Marks. This is a full resort and is a great summer option; combining a true resort and Venice vacation. The resort does not have lot of local feel, except for the drop dead gorgeous views of Venice in the back ground, but has an amazing selection of interesting accommodations. We are not fans of the entry-level rooms, as they are a bit plain in our opinion, but the selection of suite type accommodations is huge and amazingly reasonably priced for Venice. We especially like the La Residenza Pool deluxe rooms with private pool and the 2 level La Maisonette loft suites with 2 bathrooms and private pool. Theses accommodations start at just a little more than 400 Euro, which is just unbelievable in Venice, and a fraction of that charged  many intown hotels! There is a great onsite restaurant, Fiola at Doppalavora, that could be a destination in its own right

Explore Property - https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/vcejw-jw-marriott-venice-resort-and-spa/

JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa
 

Out in the Authentic Lagoon

Venissa is set in an old manor house on Mazzorbo island, attached by a pedestrian bridge to Burano with its famous candy-colored houses; staying here also means you can explore Burano when the day-trippers have left. And the hotel itself is beautifully quiet - surrounded by 5 Acres of vineyard and gardens, with only 5 guest rooms which adds to the exclusive, intimate feel.  The restaurant has been awarded a Michelin star and the chef has been awarded recognition as the best female chef in Italy. There is also a less formal osteria here as well as a few other restaurants on the island, as well as on Burano. All in all a foodies paradise!. During the summer, we would Highly  recommend couple nights here on at the Casa Burano, both under the same ownership. Here the whole northern lagoon and its unique sights and tastes are available to you. 

 

Explore Property -  https://www.venissa.it/en/ 

Venissa

his is a rare opportunity to see the lagoon island of Burano as its inhabitants do, rather than just day-tripping in to photograph the brightly colored houses and fishing boats. Currently the only place to stay overnight on the island, Casa Burano is an albergo diffuso of 13 rooms and suites, spread over 5 traditional houses. Staying here means you live right amongst friendly locals, and have an authentic experience of island life, after the tourists depart for the day; utterly enchanting, in case you were wondering. Wander the cobbled streets, chat to friendly locals, eat in neighborhood restaurants and watch elderly women weave intricate lace tablecloths.

The accommodation itself is gorgeous: minimalist in style, with quirky design pieces and artisan furnishings. You can book a room or an entire house for a group (the biggest sleeps 8), and each house has a cool, communal area with comfy chairs and a kitchenette for teas and coffees. Breakfast in baskets is delivered daily, but otherwise you’re independent. Should you want a bit of spoiling, just walk across the wooden footbridge to Mazzorbo island, where sister hotel Venissa awaits, with its gourmet restaurant and contemporary osteria. Perfect for those who want something more original than a hotel stay. Also, a great value.

Explore Property - https://www.casaburano.it/en/ 

Casa Burano

Your own private island and wonderful villa with orchards and vineyards, owned by the Swarovski Crystal family. Fantastic for a larger family group. The ultimate Venice without the crowds experience. https://www.specialtyvillas.com/villas/venetian-private-island/ 

 

Seven bedroom villa with pool on the lagoon Island of Torcello  https://www.specialtyvillas.com/villas/torcello/ 

If hotels aren't your thing...