Venice is divided into six neighbourhoods, called Sestieri, four of which border the Grand Canal as it winds through the city in a giant S-bend. The fast and frequent Vaporetto boats travel the Grand Canal, around the perimeter of the city and out to the outlying islands, so almost any place you stay is within easy reach of all tourist attractions. Since you can’t take a taxi to your hotel – and not even water taxis that can’t reach on canals – the distance from a Vaporetto stop and the number of bridges to cross should be a consideration when choosing a hotel.
Some locations in Venice are especially convenient for tourists arriving from the airport, as those boats arrive at San Zaccaria, just a short walk from St. Mark’s Square. If your hotel is in that row overlooking the Grand Canal, you’re almost home, and if it’s near St. Mark’s, you can easily wheel your luggage there (although you may have some steps to navigate). Likewise, if your hotel is near another stop along the Grand Canal or elsewhere, you can hop on the Vaporetto at San Zaccaria and ride to your stop. If you arrive by train in Santa Lucia or by car at Porta Roma, you are also convenient to the Vaporetto on the Grand Canal. If your hotel is not near a vaporetto stop, you will need to take a water taxi or perhaps hire a porter for your luggage.
Read also: day trips from Venice
Where to Stay for Sightseeing
Although a hotel is close to St. Mark’s Square or between it and the Rialto, it is not essential for sightseeing. You have to walk or take the Vaporetto between attractions anyway, so distance to a stop is more important. But the most convenient location for many attractions is in San Marco, in the general area between St. Mark’s Square and Rialto or along the lagoon towards Arsenale. While this is the most central location in Venice, hotels here don’t have to be the most expensive. The budget-friendly Rio Venezia Hotel is located just behind St. Mark’s Basilica, just a few steps from the Grand Canal.
The highly rated Starhotels Splendid Venice is located on the Mercerie, about halfway between St. Mark and Rialto; it is on a small canal and has a roof terrace. Hotel Gabrielli overlooks the lagoon near the maritime museum and the peaceful gardens where the Biennale is held. It is handy for the churches of Castello Sestiere and a short walk along the lagoon to the Ducal Palace and San Marco.
Where to stay for luxury
Strict building codes to protect both the city’s historic integrity and fragile foundations have kept Venice free of modern hotel blocks. Instead, the luxury hotels are often in carefully preserved and restored palaces of noble families. The Gritti Palace, A Luxury Collection Hotel, for example, was home to a Venetian Doge and is conveniently located near St. Mark’s. The large rooms, with a balcony overlooking the Grand Canal or a quiet piazza, are luxuriously furnished.
The smaller, family-owned Al Ponte Antico Hotel, one of Venice’s highest-rated hotels, is also housed in a renovated palazzo. The terrace overlooks the Rialto Bridge and the included breakfast is cooked to order. Hotel Ai Cavalieri di Venezia, on a small canal beyond Rialto, includes breakfast in the price. The location is handy for both Rialto and St. Mark’s, each less than 10 minutes walk away. Although located on the island of Giudecca, opposite the attractions lagoon, Belmond Hotel Cipriani offers guests free and frequent transportation to San Marco during the launch. Surrounded by gardens, this spacious enclave with its own award-winning restaurant and huge swimming pool feels a world away from busy Venice.
Where to stay for the best value
Several mid-range hotels in Venice offer luxury and prime locations without a luxury price tag, making them especially good value for tourists. The Hotel Londra Palace is in one of the city’s most enviable locations, with its balconies overlooking the lagoon at the San Zaccaria Vaporetto stop, where boats arrive from the airport. It’s a three minute walk from St. Mark’s and the included breakfast makes it even better. Overlooking the Grand Canal at the San Angelo vaporetto stop, the highly rated NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci overlooks the Rialto Bridge and is just a 10-minute walk from St. Mark’s. The large rooms are modern and bright.
Hotel Antico Doge is located in Cannaregio, close to the beautiful Ca’ d’Oro Palace, less than a 10-minute walk from the Rialto Bridge and less than 15 minutes from all the main attractions and things to do. Directly in front of the hotel is a vaporetto stop and also a traghetto funicular to the Rialto market. Rooms are on the large side for Venice, and breakfast is included.
Where to stay on a budget
While Venice is an expensive city to stay in, there are budget options in convenient locations. Don’t expect spacious rooms and lavish decor, but you can expect a comfortable and welcoming environment. The rooms at Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo, many of them with balconies, overlook the Grand Canal or a courtyard. The hotel is close to the San Stae vaporetto stop, just three stops from the train station, and a five-minute walk from Rialto. Hotel La Fenice Et Des Artistes is located in the center of San Sestiere, halfway between St. Mark and the Church of San Stefano and its lively campo. It overlooks a quiet square near La Fenice opera house. Hotel Orion is less than five minutes from Piazza San Marco on the shortest route to Rialto.
Where to stay for couples
It’s hard to be in Venice and not feel the romance in the air: misty pink mornings with the sun shimmering on a canal, graceful gondolas gliding past, palazzo windows framed by sensual curves, violins playing in Piazza San Marco, the moon rises above the lagoon. The whole city seems made for romance. You can escape the bustling main streets but be just a few minutes from San Marco by choosing a hotel in the quiet tip of Dorsoduro. Ca’ Maria Adele is next to the Church of Santa Maria Salute and just a few steps from the vaporetto stop (the next stop is across the canal at San Marco). It is a quiet, romantic and extraordinarily elegant boutique hotel near the Guggenheim collection.
You can also expect luxurious furnishings and four-poster beds at Hotel Canal Grande, just a five-minute walk from the train station. The rooms are set around a pretty courtyard on a quiet street of shops, away from the hustle and bustle but with many nearby restaurants preferred by the locals. The highly rated Hotel Moresco, on a canal in Dorsoduro, is just five minutes from the Piazzale Roma bus station (where the airport buses arrive), 10 minutes from Santa Lucia train station and close to local restaurants.
Where to stay for families
Like most adults, children can’t help but be enchanted by Venice and its carnival of colors and curiosities. Streets that are water, buses that are boats, buildings that look like illustrations from a fairy tale, and gelato for sale on every corner – what’s not to like? But finding rooms big enough to share with kids can be a challenge in this city known for small hotel rooms. Hotel Sant’Antonin, next to a small canal between San Marco and Arsenale, has spacious rooms in a quiet area where there are plenty of small, friendly restaurants. The hotel has a beautiful garden. Hotel Al Duca di Venezia is near the San Stae vaporetto stop on the Grand Canal and a 15-minute walk from San Marco. It is also located in a quiet neighborhood with a number of restaurants.
Hotel Ala – Historic Places in Italy is a green hotel with a roof terrace, close to San Marco and the landing of Santa Maria del Giglio. There are no bridges to climb between and the Vaporetto stage and the hotel has an elevator. Although facing the wide Giudecca Canal, the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice Hotel offers a shuttle to San Marco every 20 minutes. The rooftop swimming pool is a favorite with children, while parents can enjoy views over the lagoon from the terrace. The large hotel has been converted from a former flour mill.
Where to stay near St. Mark’s
This is the most central location in the city, easy to reach from any entry point and closest to the main attractions. You will find many hotels here (see other categories) between St. Mark and Rialto or in the streets behind the basilica, in the Castello Sestiere. One of Venice’s legendary hotels, the lavish Hotel Danieli is overwhelming in grandeur, with elegant staircases and sparkling Murano glass chandeliers. The hotel is located at the San Zaccaria jetty, almost next to the Doge’s Palace and around the corner from Piazza San Marco. The luxurious rooms have a balcony and windows overlooking the lagoon.
At the elegant and luxurious Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal, a few steps from the San Marco Vaporetto stop, you can have breakfast overlooking the Grand Canal. For a more intimate boutique hotel, opt for Ca’ dei Dogi, on the tiny Corte Santa Scolastica in Castello, just behind St. Mark’s Basilica. This romantic mid-range hotel has a roof terrace and some rooms have a private balcony.
Where to stay for the best views
If your Venice dream is to wake up to a perfect view, be sure to request a room with a view when you book or contact the manager after you book to express your preferences. While a hotel is right on the Grand Canal, rooms at the back and sides of the building have no view at all, or may overlook a charming little canal or an equally enchanting neighborhood square. Room rates in many hotels may include “Canal View”, although none of these have impressive views of the Grand Canal.
Located on the Grand Canal, the Bauer hotel also overlooks the campo (except Piazza San Marco, in Venice a square is called a campo) and an elegant facade of San Moise. Although it occupies a grand old palazzo, the decor is more sleek and modern than many others.
From a window at the Hotel Bucintoro you can look out over the lagoon in the classic Venetian scene that Canaletto painted in immortality. The hotel is next to the maritime museum in Arsenale, a 10-minute walk from St. Mark and even closer to the quiet Giardini Publici, where the Biennale is held; the hotel is arranged so that most of its paneled rooms have a view.
The luxurious Baglioni Hotel Luna is located right on Piazza San Marco and the roof terrace offers a beautiful view over the lagoon. This is perhaps the best place in Venice to see a full moon rise.
Where to stay for art and design
Venice is a city of art, and everywhere you go you will find works by artists from the Byzantine, Medieval and Renaissance eras when Venice was at its peak. But the city’s love of the arts has continued. It is home to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a major landmark in modern art, and hosts the Biennale, a festival of contemporary art and design, every two years. These hotels are of special interest to those who enjoy an artistic environment .
Living amidst the painted walls, stucco and deep paneling of the Ca’Sagredo Hotel, you can admire original works by the most important Venetian painters: Giambattista Tiepolo, Sebastiano Ricci, Nicolò Bambini, Pietro Longhi and others of the 17th and 18th centuries artists. The 15th-century palace overlooking the Grand Canal provides a museum environment for its collections, which include period furnishings and decorative details.
Jump to another era, in a design hotel steps from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in a quiet, yet convenient Dorsoduro neighborhood. The individually decorated rooms and public areas of the Ca’ Pisani Hotel are decorated in a stylish Art Deco style and have a roof terrace with pleasant views.
Although often described as Art Deco, the Grande Albergo Ausonia & Hungaria is really the former Liberty Style (Italy’s Art Nouveau). Pastel colored ceramic reliefs and tiles make the wildly decorated facade easy to spot as you stroll along Lido’s main street, between the jetty and the beach. While the Lido can be busy in summer, in other seasons it is peaceful and seems far away from the hustle and bustle of Venice, although it is only a short Vaporetto ride away. The hotel has a spa and offers free parking, a real attraction for those coming to Venice by car.