Recently, my son was planning a trip to Venice and I was giving him a little practical advice. Thought I’d share it with you. This is what I wrote to him:
I’ve looked at a bazillion hotels in Venice over the years, but in order to be (1) central, (2) easily accessible, and (3) relatively inexpensive, I haven’t been able to beat the Hotel Commercio e’ Pellegrino. The boutique hotel is small and charming. The fact that breakfast is included is a big plus because it’s difficult to find in Venice. (And it will be your introduction to an Italian hotel ‘full’ breakfast: croissants, sliced ham and cheese, something sweet, fresh whole fruit, maybe yogurt, and a couple of different kinds of juice – and the same server who’s been there for years, only speaks coffee in English, will bring you a cappuccino on request.) Your key will be on a massive tassel, and you hand it over to the front desk each time you go out, and they hand it back to you upon your return.
The biggest selling point of this hotel is location, though. Take a water taxi (an expensive indulgence!) or vaporetto (essentially a water bus, which requires a bit of research) to the San Zaccaria stop. You’ll be right in front of the Hotel Danieli. Posh! (I just looked: tonight, the Danieli is ten times as much per night as the C e’ P. But it’s a great landmark.) This is the only place you can go where you have to cross zero footbridges (which have STAIRS) with your luggage. Roll your luggage in Venice and you will get either a reprimand or a fine. You’ll see people trying to do it anyway. Don’t be one of them. What you will not get is a porter. You’re on your own. That’s why this location is so cool. Walk beside the Danieli, down the Calle della Rasse. The Hotel Commercio e’ Pellegrino is half a block down, just a few steps, actually, abutting the wall of the Danieli. Dad always stayed in the Danieli. Go there for dinner or just for cocktails at sunset because they DO have a rooftop bar open to the public – you just have to finesse your way past the bouncer oh er I mean door man.) (Of note: there is an ATM there. They can be hard to find. They are called bancomat in Europe.)
Putting location into perspective for you. In Venice, all directions given are to Piazza San Marco (Saint Mark’s Square). The Doge’s (think ‘king’) Palace and St Mark’s Cathedral are on Piazza S. Marco. As you get lost in Venice (and that is a goal easily achieved) every little piazza will have S. Marco with an arrow, painted on the side of a building. This will still make for a convoluted path back to your hotel – there are no straight lines in Venice. It’s comprised of something like 118 tiny islands, with at least two bridges connecting each one. It’s like a cat got hold of a string toy. It’s a mess. You’ll love it. (To illustrate: I have been in a square with S. Marco and two arrows, pointing different directions. And I have been in one that led me to another that led me back to the first.) HOWEVER. The Danieli, and therefore the Commercio e’ Pellegrino, is next to the Doge’s Palace. So if you can find S Marco, you can find your hotel.
*Amazing dining experience (Michelin, and only 9 tables, at the end of Calle della Rasse, quick left/right) Il Ridotto (il ridotto means the reduction). Lunch is fixed menu, cheap by comparison, and reservation only. Read about it before you go – the chef is renowned, and quite likely to be the one taking your order.
Venice is not listed right now on any Magic Wineglass tours, but can be added to yours.