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A romantic city we should all aspire to visit, Venice is famous for having no proper roads, but 170 canals which are lined with picturesque Renaissance and Gothic palaces. Overflowing with romance, the floating lagoon city is rich in intimate alleyways, historic architecture and priceless artwork. Take a gondola ride through town (perhaps right from your hotel's front door) and don't miss the central square — Piazza San Marco — where you’ll find St. Mark’s Basilica, tiled with Byzantine mosaics. Beyond stunning attractions, Venice is also a foodie destination in its own right, with legendary cuisine and regional wine around every corner. Whether you're touching down in Italy with your kids in tow or jaunting off on a solo trip, these hotels won't do you wrong. Read on for where to rest your head in la Serenissima, the ancient sea republic.
Best Overall: Hotel Excelsior Venice Lido Resort
Hotel Excelsior Venice Lido Resort is located minutes away from St. Mark’s Square by quick and complimentary water shuttle. The lavish hotel was built at the turn of the century by Nicolo Spada and Giovanni Sardi, and now — even more than a hundred years later — the 5-star destination is still unparalleled in luxury and glamour. There’s much to appreciate about this property: a private, white-cabana dotted beach along the Adriatic, a serene ocean-view pool, multiple on-premise Mediterranean and regional restaurants, and an iconic bar/lounge that's been slinging drinks since the hotel opened its doors. Timeless Moorish rooms and suites — 197 of them, to be exact — run a bit pricey (they start at a few hundred and go up from there) but for the luxury and experience you’ll be getting, this will be a vacation splurge well worth the extra dollars.
Best Budget: "Antica Locanda Sturion" Residenza d'Epoca
Located within spitting distance of the Rialto Bridge, Antico Locando Sturion takes up residence in the top floors of a Venetian palace that dates back to the 1300s. Now the only remaining historic inn established by La Serenissima (the Republic of Venice) in the 14th century, the walkup oozes old world charm. Perhaps the best part? With just 11 intimate rooms and breakfast included, the boutique stay doesn't feel like a budget spot. Enjoy beautiful views of the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge from your window within a 16th-century-styled guestroom full of red damask and Muranos chandeliers, and don’t forget to take some time to peek in the hotel's small but impressive library which houses an extraordinary selection of books in various languages. This living room is great for a morning coffee or an afternoon break with a view.
Best Boutique: Il Palazzo Experimental
If you’re a cocktail lover, Il Palazzo Experimental is where you’ll want to stay in Venice. The boutique hotel is part of the Experimental Cocktail Group, known for its original bar, the Experimental Cocktail Club in New York, which has since closed. But its memory lives on in cities across the world, including Venice. With just 28 rooms and four suites, the property is quite intimate. The accommodations aren’t necessarily spacious — space is very tight in Venice — but they’re expertly designed with a bit of a sexy yet classic flair. If you feel like splurging, definitely go for a room with a balcony overlooking the Canal della Giudecca.
The standout of the property is, of course, the bar — the staff mixes up inventive creations using local ingredients. While the space is beautiful, filled with antique mirrors and elegant marble (designed as a nod to famous Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa), guests of the hotel are also able to sip their drinks in the secret garden out back.
Best Location: Hotel Splendid Venice – Starhotels Collezione
Hotel Splendid Venice is a charming luxury boutique property that overlooks the city's prized canals and is a quick and easy walk to both Piazza San Marco and Ponte Rialto. With so many sightseeing and shopping destinations nearby, it makes for an ideal home base. Upon arrival in Venice, take a private water taxi to the hotel where you'll be greeted with a welcome cocktail. The hotel's 165 rooms and 20 suites and junior suites all feature sumptuous linens and furnishings, serene brown and lilac color schemes and traditional damask prints throughout. Onsite dining and imbibing spots include Le Maschere, which serves up contemporary Venetian dishes, and the Lounge Bar, which enjoys views of the canal and its gondolas from large picture windows.
Best for Families: San Clemente Palace Kempinski
San Clemente Palace Kempinski is a gorgeous five-star hotel situated on a private island in the Venetian lagoon, just eight minutes by private boat from St. Mark's Square. Staying on an exclusive isle just minutes from the city's activity means guests enjoy the best of both worlds. The resort is especially ideal for families as it offers spacious connecting rooms and a number of activities such as tennis courts and a large outdoor swimming pool. San Clemente Palace Kempinski also has its own kids' club for children ages 3 to 11 that includes offerings such as cooking classes on how to make real Italian pizza. The Palace Kempinski also offers several packages to ensure you get the most of your time at the resort.
Best for Romance: JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa
JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa also enjoys its own private island — stunning Isola della Rose — a 20-minute (free) boat ride from Venice’s St. Mark’s Square. Though the city is within easy reach, you may want to stay on the island for a while as the luxury resort has its own fine dining destination: the Sagra Rooftop Restaurant, which serves up epic Italian cuisine and views of the lagoon. The resort is also home to Venice’s largest spa, the JW Venice Spa, and hosts activities ranging from cooking classes, tastings and art gallery exhibits to shopping, biking and swimming making this location perfect for both romantic getaways and family vacations. Contemporary rooms feature lagoon and garden views and soothing neutral palettes while some exclusive suites and residence-style villas offer private patios and plunge pools. Be forewarned: this gorgeous property is a former 1920s sanatorium, so we’d not be surprised if it’s haunted. Still, extra reason to cuddle!
Best Luxury: Aman Canal Grande
You know you're enjoying the lap of luxury when you vacation at the very spot where the Clooneys spent their wedding night. This 16th-century Grand Canal-side palazzo is known for its opulence: soaring 20-foot ceilings and ornate museum-quality frescos, Rubelli silk wall coverings and carved-stone fireplaces. If you're really willing to splurge, try to snatch up the suite that has a ceiling relief painted by 18th-century Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. That said, no matter where you bed down, you'll find all 24 contemporary rooms and expansive suites are flush with luxe furnishings and amenities. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the beautiful roof garden and terrace. You’ll feel like royalty in this spot, which just happens to be right in the center of Venice, as well.
Best for Singles: Ca' Sagredo Hotel
Where better for a single lady to spend her Italian getaway than at a salmon-pink 14th-century palazzo? From the sprawling grand lobby staircase up to the main "piano nobile" floor with frescoes and opulent suites, this 5-star Byzantine-Gothic style property is an absolute stunner. Ca’ Sagredo has a rich history involving Famiglia Sagredo — one of the most important aristocratic lineages in Venetian history. Read up on the hotel and the city while resting in one of 42 contemporary guestrooms and suites, most which enjoy panoramic views of the Grand Canal, Camp Santa Sofia and Venetian rooftops. Enjoy an alfresco bite at the onsite, canal-side L'Alcova Restaurant which overlooks the Rialto Market and don't miss out on aperitifs at Bar L'Incontro which is open seven days a week year-round.
Best B&B: Gio & Gio Bed and Breakfast
Centrally located right near Piazza San Marco and the Fenice Theater, this B&B's entrance overlooks Canal de le Ostreghe, just near Grand Canal. Guests can choose from one of three bedroom types, but we'd always suggest you go for the Junior suite if it’s available. It features a sitting area, multiple windows and small balcony which overlook Canal de le Ostreghe. Thanks to an enviable location and fresh-from-the-oven pastries and hot coffee each morning, this budget-friendly spot is certainly one to consider. If you're feeling social, rub shoulders with other visitors over a glass of wine in the cozy lounge. If you're lucky, you may even find an exploring buddy.