Venice hotels are among the most expensive in Italy. They are also some of the cheapest.
Various factors determine how much you’ll pay for your accommodation in La Serenissima: view, rating and – most importantly – what’s going on in town. If you’re looking for an inexpensive getaway, you just have to choose your moment.
Things to consider before booking
A view over the Grand Canal always comes at a premium. In fact, a view over water of any description costs, so when you're booking your hotel in Venice and ask for a ‘canal view’, try to ensure the canal in question is a dignified one, rather than a dingy backwater with a strong whiff of drains.
Official ratings also have a bearing, and in recent years stars have become a more reliable guide to what you can expect to find when you arrive. Bear in mind though, that even five stars may give you far fewer square metres than you’d expect at the price: space is tight in this built-up city. And you may find your luxury pad won’t come with a jacuzzi…while an infinitely cheaper suite in a two-star just might.
But events are the greatest factor in Venice hotel pricing. A double room at the five-star Centurion Palace on 16 January 2010 cost €210 a night; the same room on 16 February – the last night of Carnevale – cost €378; on Easter Sunday that leapt to €473. The same rule applies at the opposite end of the scale where the increase at the two-star Al Ponte Mocenigo, for example, was from €90 to €145. So, by avoiding Carnevale (see www.carnevale.venezia.it for dates), Easter, the most popular summer months (June and July) and such major shindigs at the opening of the Biennale contemporary art bonanza and the Film Festival (for both, see www.labiennale.org), your Venetian stay will bite less deeply into your wallet (see my When to go to Venice page for more information).
What you won't find in most Venice hotels are pools (with the exception of the Hotel Cipriani), gyms or sports facilities. Expect small bedrooms and very small bathrooms, even in hotels which may have impressively lofty public spaces on their piano nobile: this is just the way Venice's historic palazzi are built. Although most of Venice's hotels serve breakfast (and it's almost always included in the price... though if it's not specified, I do advise you to double-check to avoid unpleasant surprises when you come to pay your bill) many don't have restaurants at all, and almost none have good restaurants (except, notably and expensively, the Hotel Metropole and Venissa). So even if your hotel does serve food, you'll almost always eat better outside than in... as long as you avoid the obvious tourist-trap eateries. For pools, beaches, tennis courts and golf courses, opt for a hotel across the lagoon on the Lido island.