Places to Stay

'Should I rent an apartment in Venice?'

View from a vacation apartment in Venice

Short-term rentals are more popular than ever (in Venice and elsewhere), but don't book until you've read our advice.

Staying in private accommodation has a long history in Venice. In the 19th Century, the city was like flypaper for artists, aristocrats, and cultural strivers from countries such as Britain and the United States, who would stay for several months (and sometimes longer), usually in rented rooms or dwellings.

That tradition continues today, but with a vengeance: Thanks to the World Wide Web, it's now almost as easy to book a vacation apartment in Venice's historic center as it is to reserve a hotel room.

Still, there are caveats to consider before plunking down a deposit on a holiday flat that you haven't seen. Here are some observations and tips to keep in mind:

1. Know your Venice geography and topography.

Look for an apartment near your arrival and/or departure point.

If you're coming from Venice Marco Polo Airport, you'll want a flat near an Alilaguna airport boat stop, a canal that can be reached by water taxi, or the Piazzale Roma (where airport buses and land taxis arrive from the Venetian mainland).

If you're arriving and departing by train, an apartment within walking distance of the Venezia Santa Lucia Railroad Station will be your best bet.

Before booking an apartment on the ground floor, be sure that you aren't at risk from acqua alta, or tidal flooding. This occurs mainly from October through March or April, but it can happen at any time of year. If the tide is higher than the floor of your apartment, you'll find yourself wading in brackish and unsanitary water from the drains or nearby canals.

(Vulnerability to flooding depends on location. For example, the Piazza San Marco has minor flooding even in the summertime, while some neighborhoods--such as Sant'Elena, near the historic center's eastern tip--hardly ever get wet.)

2. An apartment isn't a hotel.

If you want services--or even if you just want help close at hand when something goes wrong--stick with a hotel or B&B, or make sure that your apartment is in a serviced building with multiple vacation apartments and a 24-hour reception desk.

3. Most apartment buildings in Venice lack elevators.

Is mobility a problem for you? Are you traveling with bulky or heavy luggage? Don't get stuck in a building where you'll need to haul your bags up several flights of steps.

4. Checking in can be a hassle, especially if you're arriving late.

Apartments with keycode entry aren't yet common in Venice. Some landlords use lockboxes that let you enter a numeric code to get your keys. (The lockbox can be by the apartment's front door or at a nearby luggage-storage facility such as Vaise.)

Such convenience is rare, however: Normally, you'll collect your keys from the landlord or an agent at a prearranged time. If the hour is late, you may be required to pay an extra fee.

5. Cancellation can be expensive.

With a normal hotel reservation, you can cancel at any time before the day of arrival without penalty. Apartment rentals usually require a firmer commitment, with big penalties (sometimes up to 100 percent of the rent) if you change your mind. Be aware of the cancellation policy, and buy trip insurance if you can't afford to lose your rent in an emergency.

Also, you'll often need to pay all or most of the rent at the time of booking, and security deposits aren't uncommon.

6. Payment can be a nuisance.

When you stay at a hotel, you normally present your credit card when you check out.

Apartment payment policies vary: Some landlords accept payment by Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, but others expect cash via PayPal or a bank draft.

You may even be asked to pay a deposit by wire transfer and the balance of the rent in banknotes upon arrival. Complicated (and sometimes costly) payment arrangements may be fine if you're staying a month or two, but if you're visiting for only a few days, you'll want to keep things simple.

7. Extra fees can add up.

No matter where you stay, you'll need to pay the Venice tourist tax. It's cheap--only a few euros per day--but you'll normally be expected to pay it in cash up front, so have some euro banknotes and coins handy when you arrive.

Other fees, such as cleaning fees or additional service fees, can push the rent up quickly.

If you dislike service fees, avoid HomeAway and Airbnb. Our hotel and apartments partner, Booking.com, is more transparent than many of its competitors, and it's a good choice if you're staying for 28 days or less.

For more information on renting vacation apartments in Venice, including links to agencies and specific properties, see our Vacation apartments article at Veniceforvisitors.com.

Also read our article on Garbage and recycling collection for apartment renters.


We've expanded our guide to hotels near Venice's cruise piers

AC Hotel Venezia by Marriott, Venice

ABOVE: The AC Hotel Venezia by Marriott has an entrance directly on the transportation hub of Piazzale Roma, but its guestrooms face a quiet side street, an attractive interior courtyard, or this traditional Venetian canal.

We're often asked what hotels are most convenient to Venice's cruise port, especially when passengers are traveling with heavy luggage or would like to avoid long walks over multiple footbridges.

The answer is "It depends." Venice has two sets of cruise terminals:

  • Marittima is the main cruise basin. It serves all larger ships, such as those of Costa, MSC, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean. Depending on how busy the port is, it also may be used for small and medium-size vessels.

  • San Basilio and its neighboring pier of Santa Marta are used by small ships, the occasional mid-size ship, river vessels (such as Uniworld's River Countess and CroisiEurope's Michelangelo), and hydrofoils to Croatia.

If your ship departs or arrives at Marittima, you'll probably want to stay on or near the Piazzale Roma, which is the land-transportation hub for Venice with airport buses, taxis, and the People Mover automated tram to both the Marittima cruise basin and the Tronchetto parking garages.

If your ship departs or arrives at San Basilio or Santa Marta, you may want to stay in the vicinity of those piers.

For current listings of hotels near Marittima and San Basilio/Santa Marta, we recommend looking at "17 Hotels Closest to Cruise Ships" guide on our main Venice for Visitors site. This newly-expanded guide describes 10 hotels that are extremely close to Marittima plus seven that are within easy walking distance of San Basilio and Santa Marta.

Each listing includes a photo, a link to the hotel's individual map and directions page at VeniceHotelDirections.com, and guest ratings from Booking.com.

The article also has Piazzale Roma and San Basilio maps that show the locations of all 17 hotels.

As a bonus, you'll find a secondary page with nine more hotels that are worth considering if you don't mind a slightly longer walk.

To get started, see:

For even more Venice cruise information, go to:

BELOW: The Hotel San Sebastiano Garden is a short walk from the San Basilio cruise terminal.

Hotel San Sebastiano Garden, Venice


Five hotels near Venice's Piazzale Roma

These 5 hotels are just a short walk from Venice's airport buses, land taxis, and People Mover (which serves the Tronchetto parking garage and the Marittima cruise terminals).


 

The Piazzale Roma is a transportation hub on the edge of Venice's historic center. It's the last place that you can reach by land taxi, airport bus, car, or bicycle before you enter the citywide pedestrian zone.

In our Venice Hotel Guide at Venice for Visitors, we have articles about hotels that are convenient to airport transportation, the railroad station, the cruise terminals, and other locations (including hotels within a 10- to 15-minute walk of the Piazzale Roma).

In this post, we'll focus on just five hotels that are either directly on the Piazzale Roma or a couple of minutes away with only one small bridge to cross.


Directly on the Piazzale Roma:

Hotel Santa Chiara, Venice

Hotel Santa Chiara ****

The Santa Chiara is at the northwest corner of the Piazzale Roma, next to the Ponte della Costituzione or Calatrava Bridge that crosses the Grand Canal to the Venezia Santa Lucia railroad station.

The hotel has 40 rooms--some in the original historic palazzo, some in a fancy new wing, and a few in an annex (the Residenza Parisi). Wi-Fi is free, and parking is available nearby for a fee. For more information, click the link above or go directly to the Hotel Santa Chiara pages at Booking.com.

Ca' Doge, Venice

Ca' Doge

The Ca' Doge is a small inn that faces the People Mover station, where automated trams provide frequent, inexpensive service to the Tronchetto parking island and the cruise terminals at Marittima.

In addition to its six rooms, Ca' Doge has a private parking lot on the premises, which makes it unique in central Venice.

The inn's location isn't lovely, but it's perfectly safe, and it's convenient if you're arriving or departing with heavy or bulky luggage.

For more information, click the link above or see the Ca' Doge pages at Booking.com.


One small bridge away from Piazzale Roma:

Hotel Papadopoli Venezia

Hotel Papadopoli Venezia ****

The Papadopoli (named after a noble Venetian family of the 1700s) is part of the McGallery Collection of boutique hotels operated by Sofitel, an upscale French hotel group.

The hotel has 97 rooms, a restaurant, and a bar with a private library. It's only two minutes or so from the Piazzale Roma over a low stone bridge that's easy to cross with luggage.

For more information, click the link above or go directly to the Hotel Papadopoli Venezia pages at Booking.com.

Hotel Arlecchino, Venice

Hotel Arlecchino *

The three-star "Hotel Harlequin" is extremely easy to reach from the Piazzale Roma. You just walk through the trees at the edge of the square to a canal, turn right, cross a small bridge, and there you are.

The Arlecchino has 24 rooms, and we suggest spending a little more for a room with a canal view.

For more information, click the link above or go directly to the Hotel Arlecchino pages at Booking.com.

 Best Western Hotel Olimpia, Venice

Hotel Olimpia ***

The Best Western Hotel Olimpia is a sister property of the Hotel Arlecchino. It's just to the right of the latter as you cross the footbridge from the Piazzale Roma.

The hotel has 35 rooms and suites, a private garden, and a bar.

For more information, click the link above or see the Hotel Olimpia pages at Booking.com.