The best hotels in Venice

When renting a room in this dense labyrinth of a city, it definitely pays to be specific about what you want. The classic hotels of Venice are concentrated around St. Mark’s Square, along the Grand Canal to the west, and the Riva degli Schiavoni to the east. Other accommodation options within the city range from backpacker hostels to B&Bs to luxurious four-stars and owner-rentals. A ‘canal view’ will cost you extra and could entail anything from a stunning Grand Canal panorama to an ugly view down into a mosquito-infested quagmire. An internal room can be significantly calmer than one facing out into a bustling street. As long as ‘internal’ means over a courtyard or garden, rather than out onto a busy thoroughfare.

Belmond Hotel Cipriani

The intimacy of neighboring nearby hotels is offset by the grandeur of Belmond Hotel Cipriani. Every big room offers a view of the garden or the water. Those looking for a somewhere to sleep that is at least four centuries old might choose its annex. This is housed inside a 15th-century palace on Giudecca Island. It emanates a dolce vita–style splendor from its prominent location on the island’s eastern point. Whether you arrive directly at the private dock or take the hotel launch from Piazza San Marco, the super-attentive service, landscaped foliage, and aura of elegance combine to form a pampered world all its own.

Ca’ Pisani Boutique Design Hotel

Ca’ Pisani, an Art Deco homage with some beautiful period pieces, is a stylish departure from the traditional Venetian look. In 2000, the 29-room hotel defied convention by becoming the city’s first design hotel. Ca’ Pisani is elegantly designed and managed, with dark polished wood, many mirrors, and some exquisite genuine Art Deco artifacts. The size of the rooms varies greatly; there are also family suites and a junior suite.

Corte di Gabriela

With trademark design items, industrial-chic materials, and bursts of magnificent color, Corte di Gabriela, a boutique hotel, infuses contemporary flair into a 19th-century palazzo. However, this is style without the accompanying attitude: The atmosphere is friendly, mature, and welcoming. And the breakfast is just outstanding; in fact, it is a major draw for many of the hotel’s returning visitors. The personnel will quickly make you feel at ease, directing you to restaurants, water taxis, and tours. With its Paola Navone designed furnishings, ancient marble wellhead, and shade from a very large and old wisteria plant, the courtyard is an ideal spot for quiet reflection.

Hotel Londra Palace

Big windows in several of the 52 rooms at the opulent Londra Palace on the Riva degli Schiavoni look out over the Venetian lagoon. Since 1853, the hotel has been welcoming guests under many names. Tchaikovsky stayed in 1877 and composed his fourth symphony while he gazed over the sea at San Giorgio Maggiore. The hotel, which was once part of a tiny Italian hospitality organization, is now a member of the Relais & Chateaux group. If you’re looking for a Venetian classic, the Londra Palace is ideal. It’s also less expensive than many of the city’s other top-tier hotels.

Oltre il Giardino

You’ll be amazed by what lies beyond the door of this six-room boutique hotel near the Frari basilica. The windows and doors leading into the magnificent patch of exuberant greenery make a great contrast with the surroundings. Oltre il Giardino looks more like a country mansion than a city hostelry. The main house has six room types: doubles, junior suites, and suites. The colors in these sleek, understated spaces are mostly neutral, with a touch of something unexpected here and there. In the 1920s, Alma Mahler, the widow of the composer Gustav Mahler, lived in the property that now houses the hotel.