Where to Stay in Venice and Experience It Like a Local

Wander the canalside streets of Venice and soak up its unique atmosphere
Wander the canalside streets of Venice and soak up its unique atmosphere | © Brandon Style / Unsplash
Sheree Hooker

Not for nothing is Venice known as the City of Water. Yet despite the huge numbers of tourists, this unique destination – made up of 118 islands and more canals than you can shake a gondolier’s oar at – retains much of its original charm. With Venetian Gothic palaces and elegant medieval squares, this extraordinary Unesco World Heritage Site wows at every turn. But where to stay in Venice? Here’s our choice of the options.

To experience Venice like a local, there’s one thing you need to know: houses here are not arranged sequentially here; instead, they are numbered by district, so it can be confusing to find the address of where you’re staying. Luckily, there’s beauty on every canal corner, making it a great place to get lost, and you’ll find plenty of charming Venetians willing to point you in the right direction.

1. Hotel San Cassiano


Balcony with several seats and three tables overlooking canal water at Hotel San Cassiano
Courtesy of Hotel San Cassiano / Expedia

Formerly home to Giacomo Favretto, one of the most famous Venetian artists of the 19th century, Hotel San Cassiano has all the charm you would expect from a historic building in Venice. Now a four-star hotel, this elegant property offers rooms stuffed with Murano chandeliers and rare antiques. Enjoy continental breakfast in the dining room, where you’re also served with a splendid view over the Grand Canal.

2. Hotel San Luca


Double bed in an ensuite room with ornate cabinetry at San Luca
Courtesy of Hotel San Luca / Expedia

Hotel San Luca, in the heart of the city, is close to many of the major sights, including St Mark’s Square. Known for their exceptional service, the staff are knowledgeable on all things Venetian and can give you recommendations on the attractions and restaurants that are worth a visit. You’re provided with a map upon check-in, which is particularly helpful when trying to find your way around the complex numbering system.

3. Hotel Ala


Corner sofa and table on a terrace overlooking the city at Hotel Ala
Courtesy of Hotel Ala / Expedia

Despite being in the thick of things, Hotel Ala is set in a quiet square between Ponte dell’Accademia and St Mark’s Square, so it’s surprisingly peaceful. Housed in a typical 18th-century building, once the Maurogonato Palace, many of the rooms look out over the canals. Fun fact: the in-house American bar, Tarnowska’s, is named after Russian countess Maria Tarnowska who gained notoriety for plotting to kill one of her lovers in this ancient palace.

4. Hotel Giorgione


Small outdoor pool in courtyard dining area with many chairs and tables at Hotel Giorgione
Courtesy of Hotel Giorgione / Expedia

This historic building is a picture of grandeur, fitting the Venetian aesthetic and complemented by a traditional courtyard. Open year-round, the terrace is home to an “emotional” pool if it’s wellness you’re after, and a salt-water whirlpool to help alleviate stress. Enjoy a buffet breakfast in the botanical courtyard: highlights include a continental spread of croissants, eggs and bacon.

5. Michelle in Venice


Sofa, table, chairs and vintage armchairs in a Michelle in Venice living area
Courtesy of Michelle in Venice / Expedia

Located in the district of Castello, this is a fabulous base if you’re seeking peace, even though you’re within walking distance of Venice’s main attractions. This spacious apartment has been lovingly furnished with Italian touches, including decorative busts and Renaissance-style portraits. Meanwhile, host Michele has the insider tips that will make your trip unforgettable.

6. The Venetian Penthouse


Double bed in a room at the Venetian Penthouse, also containing antique furniture and full bookshelves
Courtesy of The Venetian Penthouse / Expedia

In the heart of Venice, a short walk from the Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Square, this is an ideal place to base yourself for your exploration of the city. It’s on the fourth floor of a former palace (there is a lift) and sleeps up to four people. The open-air roof terrace will delight sun worshippers – or you might just want to sit under the awning and take in the views.

7. Venetian House with Terrace


Sofa and soft chair in a Venetian House with Terrace room; stairs lead up to another level
Courtesy of Venetian House with Terrace / Expedia

Perfect for families and groups, the Venetian House, in San Polo, Venice’s smallest sestiere, can sleep up to five adults and two children. It is near many of the main attractions worth visiting. The modern interior is done out in softer tones with an understated look, while the plant-filled terrace is a fabulous spot to enjoy early evening drinks.

8. La Palazzina Veneziana


Large bed with ornate gold bedhead in a green-and-brown room with antique furniture at Palazzina Veneziana
Courtesy of La Palazzina Veneziana / Expedia

This 18th-century residence, on the Canale di Cannaregio, has been designed with romance in mind, offering an authentic Venetian experience. Many of the rooms, named after local attractions, are decked out in traditional Venetian style, such as walnut wood finishings, and offer spectacular views of the passing gondolas. Luxuriate in your room before exploring the city on a gondola yourself.

9. Erbaria Boutique Apartment R&R


Sofa, two armchairs, a dining table and a TV in an open-plan living are at Erbaria Boutique Apartment R&R
© Booking.com

Wondering where to stay in Venice for its vibrant side? Stay in the San Polo district. The snug Erbaria Boutique Apartment is in the thick of it, yet promises a relaxing stay; it’s the perfect place to wind down with a glass of prosecco. For a stress-free stay, there’s a food-delivery service, so if you email them your order at the time of booking, you’ll have a full supermarket shop waiting for you on arrival.

10. Formosa 5193 Apartment


Canal view from Formosa 5193 Apartment, with gondolas between buildings
© Booking.com

Formosa 5193 Apartment, in the historic Centro Storico old town of Venice, offers what you would call a room with a view: the sight in question is the San Severo canal. There is no better place to watch the world – and the gondolas – go by. Inside, the 1960s and 70s decor makes this pet-friendly apartment feel like it’s been pulled out of a time capsule.

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