Instead of staying in a chain hotel on your trip to Venice, support a local business and tap into your host’s expert knowledge of the city at one of its best B&Bs.
It may be one of the most popular and glamorous destinations on the planet, but a stay in La Serenissima needn’t cost an arm and a leg. With locally owned B&Bs in Venice becoming increasingly available, you can have a canal-side view or breakfast in bed for a fraction of the price of a hotel.
Residenza de l’Osmarin
Bed and Breakfast
Residenza de l’Osmarin offers spacious and comfortable rooms | Courtesy of Residenza de l’Osmarin / Hotels.com
When staying at Residenza de l’Osmarin, prepare to be the envy of your fellow travellers, or even just your Instagram followers. The terrace of this eye-catching B&B looks straight onto the canal; you might even hear the gondoliers sing from your room. Feast on the view while enjoying the varied breakfast spread; owner Maria Elisabetta’s home-made sweet cakes are a real highlight. As it only has a few rooms – including family-size suites for four – an intimate stay is guaranteed. The decor is airy and unfussy, refreshing for those less fond of the typical Venetian brocade. Despite the secluded feel, the Piazza San Marco and Rialto Bridge are only a short walk away.
Owners Marco and Alessandra have created a quiet and lovely space for visitors in northern Cannaregio, a peaceful area famous for its cicchetti bars, which serve up small plates of Venetian delicacies alongside glasses of wine. The building was once part of a Franciscan convent dating to before 1300 – the outside terrace looks out onto the gardens and cypress trees of the Abbey of the Mercy. Despite the historic location, the en-suite rooms are refreshingly modern. You can have a continental breakfast served to you in the room in the morning or start your day on its delightful terrace.
For a sophisticated Venetian B&B in the centre of the action, Bloom is minutes away from the Teatro La Fenice in San Marco. The rooftop terrace, shared with the neighbouring Locanda Fiorita, has stunning views over the city; enjoy the sunset over the canals with a glass of the complimentary prosecco. Rooms are a pleasing mix of exposed brick and red-and-purple silk flourishes, with Baroque-style furnishings providing a luxurious touch. There are also beautifully designed breakfast rooms, where a simple continental spread is served. This romantic B&B is an excellent choice for a honeymoon getaway or a pre-wedding party.
Honeymooning couples will love the sumptuous rooms of Ca’ Bonvicini, which feature a matrimonial combination of ivory silk and gold gilt. Some rooms look onto the Rio de le Do Torre canal – ask for one of these when booking. Breakfast is a classic Italian spread of sweet pastries, juice, yoghurt and coffee, and if you give the owners notice before your arrival, they can make soy milk and gluten-free options available. The Rialto Bridge is a five-minute walk away, and the charming lanes of Santa Croce have many bars and cafés – ask host Sabina for her recommendations.
In arty, laid-back Dorsoduro, Locanda Ca’ Zose occupies prime real estate over the Rio de la Fornace, a stone’s throw from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection of modern art. The 24-square-metre (258-square-foot), four-person suites are masterpieces in their own right, looking directly onto the canal, but they come with a much more modest price tag. The B&B’s 12 rooms are old-fashioned but tasteful in co-ordinated shades of Venetian brocade. The simple breakfast includes croissants, yoghurt and fresh fruit, served in the downstairs dining room.
Once a 14th-century monastery, Ca’ San Giorgio retains its old-world charm despite being renovated in 2016. Its eight rooms have a simple but undeniably Venetian look, with exposed beams, silk damask and gold accents. It’s worth paying a little extra for a deluxe room, which offers beautiful views over the canal. Breakfast comprises a varied selection of meats and cheese alongside the usual pastries, cereal and fruit. The surrounding area of Santa Croce is home to the Museum of Natural History and numerous grand palazzi (mansions). Also, the Santa Lucia Train Station is just a 10-minute walk away, making this B&B a great option if you have an early start.
La Rosa dei Venti is located in Castello, Venice’s largest district, which is usually a quiet, café-lined neighbourhood far from the tourist traps. However, if you’re visiting for the Biennale, you’ll be within walking distance of the ticket office and pavilions. The B&B itself is reasonably priced for its location and views over St Mark’s Basin. Three junior suites contain either a double bed or two singles, but they can be set up as family rooms upon request. A buffet-style breakfast is served in a downstairs café, meaning guests can choose from a much greater selection than at most B&Bs.
The recently renovated rooms in the B&B Fortuny are a modern anomaly in damask-obsessed Venice, opting instead for heathered-grey furnishings with the occasional red accent. One of the three rooms has canal views, while the other two look onto a traditional Venetian courtyard. This B&B may be one of Venice’s most family-friendly properties, offering cots for infants and babysitting service at an extra charge. Host Andrea will help you get oriented with the sights, with expert recommendations and tips for how to make the most of your stay. Breakfast offers just about anything you could think of, and the location – on a quiet canal in otherwise touristy San Marco – is perfect.