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Where to Stay in Venice: Best Areas & Hotels, 2017

Venice is divided into six neighborhoods called sestieri, four of which border on the Grand Canal as it winds through the city in a giant S curve. The fast and frequent Vaporetto boats travel the Grand Canal, along the perimeter of the city and to the outlying islands, so almost any place you stay is within easy reach of all the tourist attractions. Because you can't take a taxi to your hotel - and even water taxis can't reach those not on canals - the distance from a Vaporetto stop and the number of bridges (which have stairs) to cross should be a consideration in 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 facing the Grand Canal, you're almost home, and if it's close to St. Mark's, you can wheel your luggage there easily (although you may have some steps to navigate). Likewise, if your hotel is near any other stop along the Grand Canal or elsewhere, you can hop onto the Vaporetto at San Zaccaria and ride to your stop. If you arrive by train at Santa Lucia or by car at Porta Roma, you will also be handy 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.

Where to Stay for Sightseeing

Photo Copyright: Hotel Gabrielli
Photo Copyright: Hotel Gabrielli
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While a hotel located close to St. Mark's Square or between there and the Rialto is handy, it's not essential for sightseeing. You'll have to walk or take the Vaporetto between attractions anyway, so distance from 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 toward Arsenale. Although this is the most central location in Venice, hotels here don't need to be the most expensive. For example, the budget-friendly Rio Venezia Hotel is just behind St. Mark's Basilica, only a block from the Grand Canal.

The highly-rated Starhotels Splendid Venice is on the Mercerie, about halfway between St. Mark's and Rialto; it's on a small canal, and has a rooftop terrace. Overlooking the lagoon near the maritime museum and the peaceful gardens where the Biennale is held, Hotel Gabrielli is handy to the churches of the Castello sestiere and a short walk along the lagoon to the Ducal Palace and St. Mark's.

Where to Stay for Luxury

Photo Copyright: Belmond Hotel Cipriani
Photo Copyright: Belmond Hotel Cipriani
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Strict building regulations to protect both the historical integrity and the fragile foundations of the city have kept Venice free of modern hotel blocks. Instead, its luxury hotels are often in carefully preserved and restored palaces of noble families. The Gritti Palace, A Luxury Collection Hotel, for example, was the home of a Venetian Doge and is conveniently close to St. Mark's. Its large rooms, with balconies overlooking the Grand Canal or a quiet piazza, are sumptuously decorated.

The smaller family-owned Al Ponte Antico Hotel, one of Venice's most highly-rated hotels, is also in a renovated palazzo. Its terrace overlooks Rialto Bridge, and the included breakfasts are cooked to order. Hotel Ai Cavalieri di Venezia, on a small canal beyond Rialto, also includes breakfast in the rate. The location is handy to both Rialto and St. Mark's, each less than a 10-minute walk away. Although it's located on the island of Giudecca, across the lagoon from the attractions, Belmond Hotel Cipriani provides guests with free and frequent transport to San Marco in its launch. This spacious enclave with its own award-winning restaurant and enormous pool is surrounded by gardens and feels a world away from busy Venice.

Where to Stay for the Best Value

Photo Copyright: Hotel Antico Doge
Photo Copyright: Hotel Antico Doge
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Several mid-range hotels in Venice offer luxuries 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 settings, 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 value. Within sight of the Rialto Bridge and only a 10-minute walk from St. Mark's, the highly rated NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci overlooks the Grand Canal at the San Angelo Vaporetto stop. Its large rooms are modern and bright.

Less than a 10-minute walk from Rialto Bridge and less than 15 minutes from all the major attractions and things to do, the Hotel Antico Doge is in Cannaregio, close to the beautiful Ca' d'Oro palace. Directly in front of the hotel is a Vaporetto stop and also a traghetto gondola crossing to Rialto market. Rooms are on the large side for Venice, and breakfast is included.

Where to Stay on a Budget

Photo Copyright: Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo
Photo Copyright: Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo
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Although Venice is an expensive city to stay in, there are budget options in convenient locations. Don't expect spacious rooms and lavish décor, but you can expect comfortable and hospitable surroundings. Rooms at Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo, many of them with balconies, overlook the Grand Canal or a courtyard. Close to the San Stae Vaporetto stop, which is only three stops from the train station, the hotel is a five-minute walk from Rialto. In the center of the San Marco sestiere, halfway between St. Mark's and the church of San Stefano and its lively campo, Hotel La Fenice Et Des Artistes overlooks a quiet square near the opera house of La Fenice. Less than five minutes from Piazza San Marco, Hotel Orion is on the shortest route to Rialto.

Where to Stay for Couples

Photo Copyright: Hotel Canal Grande
Photo Copyright: Hotel Canal Grande
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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 in sensuous curves, violins playing in Piazza San Marco, the moon rising over the lagoon. The whole city seems made for romance. You can get away from the busy main streets, but be only a few minutes from San Marco by choosing a hotel in the quiet tip of Dorsoduro. Beside the church of Santa Maria Salute and only a few steps from the Vaporetto stop (the next stop is across the canal at San Marco), Ca' Maria Adele is a serene, romantic, and superbly elegant boutique hotel near the Guggenheim Collection. Antiques furnish the sumptuously decorated rooms, and guests are pampered by an attentive staff.

You can also expect sumptuous décor, and canopied beds, at Hotel Canal Grande, only a five-minute walk from the train station. Rooms surround a lovely courtyard in a neighborhood of quiet lanes, away from the crowds but with plenty of nearby restaurants favored by locals. The highly-rated Hotel Moresco, on a canal in Dorsoduro, is only five minutes from the Piazzale Roma bus station (where airport buses arrive), 10 minutes from Santa Lucia train station, and close to local restaurants.

Where to Stay for Families

Photo Copyright: Hotel Sant'Antonin
Photo Copyright: Hotel Sant'Antonin
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Like most adults, children can't help being 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 children can be a challenge in this city known for its small hotel rooms. Hotel Sant'Antonin, beside a small canal between San Marco and Arsenale, has spacious rooms in a quiet neighborhood where there are plenty of small, friendly restaurants. The hotel has a beautiful garden. Near the San Stae Vaporetto stop on the Grand Canal and a 15-minute walk from St. Mark's, Hotel Al Duca di Venezia is also in a quiet neighborhood with a number of restaurants.

Hotel Ala - Historical Places of Italy is a green hotel with a rooftop terrace, close to St. Mark's and to the Santa Maria del Giglio landing. There are no bridges to climb between it and the Vaporetto stage and the hotel has an elevator. Although it is across the wide Giudecca Canal from the attractions, the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice Hotel provides shuttle transport every 20 minutes to San Marco. Its rooftop pool is a favorite with kids, while parents can enjoy views across the lagoon from the terrace. The large hotel is converted from a former flour mill.

Where to Stay Near St. Mark's

Photo Copyright: Hotel Danieli
Photo Copyright: Hotel Danieli
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This is the most central location in the city, easily reached from any entry point and closest to major attractions. You'll find many hotels (see other categories here) between St. Mark's and Rialto or in the streets behind the basilica, in the Castello sestiere. One of the legendary hotels of Venice, the opulent Hotel Danieli is awash in grandeur, with elegant staircases and sparkling Murano glass chandeliers. Located at the San Zaccaria boat landing almost next to the Doge's Palace and around the corner from Piazza San Marco, the luxurious rooms have balconies 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 eat breakfast overlooking the Grand Canal. For a more intimate boutique hotel, choose Ca' dei Dogi, on the tiny Corte Santa Scolastica in Castello, right behind Basilica San Marco. This romantic mid-range hotel has a rooftop terrace, and some rooms have private balconies.

Where to Stay for the Best Views

Photo Copyright: Bauer hotel
Photo Copyright: Bauer hotel
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If your dream of Venice is to wake up to a postcard-perfect view, you'll need to ask for a room with a view when you reserve or contact the manager after you reserve to make your preferences known. Even though a hotel sits right on the Grand Canal, rooms on the back and sides of the building may have no view at all, or they could overlook a charming, small canal or an equally enchanting neighborhood square. Room rates at many hotels may specify "Canal View," although all may not be a sweeping vista of the Grand Canal.

The Bauer hotel sits on the Grand Canal and also overlooks the campo (except for Piazza San Marco, in Venice a piazza is called a campo) and elegant façade of San Moise. Although it occupies a grand old palazzo, its decor is more sleek and modern than many others.

From a window in the Hotel Bucintoro you can look out across the lagoon at the classic Venetian scene that Canaletto painted into immortality. The hotel sits next to the naval museum at Arsenale, a 10-minute walk from St. Mark's and even closer to the peaceful 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 sits right on Piazza San Marco, and its rooftop terrace has sweeping views across the lagoon. This may be the best place in Venice to watch a full moon rise.

Where to Stay for Art and Design

Photo Copyright: Ca'Sagredo Hotel
Photo Copyright: Ca'Sagredo Hotel
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Venice is a city of art, and everywhere you go you'll find works by its artists from the Byzantine, medieval, and Renaissance eras when Venice was at its height. But the city's love of the arts has continued. It is home to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, a major world landmark in modern art, and every two years hosts the Biennale, a festival of contemporary art and design. These hotels are of special interest to those who revel in artistic surroundings.

Living amid the frescoed walls, stucco work, and deeply paneled ceilings of Ca'Sagredo Hotel, you can savor original works by the premier Venetian painters: Giambattista Tiepolo, Sebastiano Ricci, Nicolò Bambini, Pietro Longhi, and other 17th- and 18th-century artists. The 15th-century palace overlooking the Grand Canal provides a museum setting for its collections, which include antique furnishings and decorative details.

Jump to another era, at a design hotel just steps from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in quiet - but convenient - Dorsoduro neighborhood. Individually designed guest rooms and public areas of Ca' Pisani Hotel are decorated in a stylish Art Deco mode, and it has a rooftop terrace with good views.

Although it's often described as Art Deco, the Grande Albergo Ausonia & Hungaria is really the earlier Liberty Style (Italy's Art Nouveau). Pastel ceramic reliefs and tiles make its wildly decorated façade easy to spot as you walk along the main street of Lido, between the boat landing and the beach. While the Lido can be crowded in the summer, in other seasons it is peaceful and seems far away from the crowds of Venice, although it's only a short Vaporetto ride away. The hotel has a spa and offers free parking, a real attraction for those arriving in Venice by car.

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