Venice is notoriously touristy and infamously expensive. Of course these generally go hand-in-hand, but Venice definitely takes them to a whole new level. As a frequent traveler, trust me when I tell you this is not exactly good news when it comes to finding comfortable accommodation at a reasonable price.
Luckily, I was offered the opportunity to stay in Hotel San Samuele (also known as Albergo San Samuele,) in the San Marco neighborhood, during my time in Venice a few weeks ago. This hotel claims to be a ‘budget’ hotel, but don’t expect inferior rooms or service; the only thing ‘budget’ about it was the prices – the hotel is beautiful, comfortable and in an outstanding location.
I don’t know how this hotel managed to land itself in the most perfect location in all of Venice, but it leaves absolutely nothing to be desired. The San Marco neighborhood is known for being the original heart of Venice, meaning that it is insanely busy, expensive and touristy. It also happens to be home to the stunning Basilica San Marco and the Piazza San Marco, where tourists feed pigeons that land on their hands, and live bands serenade you while you sip a 10-Euro espresso. The neighborhood is overrun by tourists for a reason – it is a truly remarkable place.
Hotel San Samuele is an easy seven-minute walk from Piazza San Marco, but the actual street it’s located on is quaint, beautiful and almost always free of tourists. Going back to the hotel after a long day of dealing with the annoying throngs of toursts feels like you’ve discovered a magical oasis amidst the chaos. Like I said, I don’t know how it’s possible, but huge props to the owner for choosing this spot.
Old-fashioned and modern, chic and elegant – this hotel is a lovely blend of everything you’d want in a European hotel to make you feel at home. The street views from the room are beautiful, and the beds are comfy. What more do you really need?
The rates vary depending on the season and type of room you want, so your best bet is to contact the hotel for a quote. Here is a general breakdown of the rates: http://www.hotelsansamuele.com/VENICE/room-rates.htm.
Keep in mind that there appear to be some last-minute deals and special offers available, plus the owner claims you’ll get the best rate by booking directly through her, so shoot her an email before making a reservation on a hotel booking site.
Judith is an absurdly friendly and helpful person who also speaks perfect English with a nearly undetectable accent. She is originally from France, but she fell in love with the stunning and complex city of Venice (or it chose her), and she is now a happy citizen of Venice and has an impressive wealth of knowledge about the area.
Try to only eat breakfast in the area, and explore other neighborhoods for lunch and dinner. I had the absolute worst pizza of my life at a restaurant around the corner. I’m still convinced I was being Punk’d (is that show still around?!) and what I ate wasn’t actually food, but burnt cardboard with ketchup sauce and rubber cheese. Please let me know if you see this episode floating around YouTube somewhere, because it must have been hilarious to watch me try to cut, chew and proceed to pay for that thing they called pizza.
I did, however, have some phenomenal cicchetti (the Italian word for Venetian tapas) at a few bàcari (little tapas bars where you usually stand while eating & socializing) in the Academia neighborhood, which is less than a ten minute walk from the hotel. Ask the hotel staff for directions and/or recommendations and they will be more than happy to help you out! Now you have no excuse for eating over-priced cardboard boxes for dinner.
Here are a few additional recommendations from Walks of Italy and Elle. (Wait, can someone please tell me when Elle became a useful travel resource?! What’s next – CNN starts reporting unbiased news and Fox anchors stop spewing totally uninformed racist propaganda? Oops, wrong platform for this rant…)
The location and the price are the true selling points of this great little hotel, but the incredibly friendly owner & staff make the choice a no-brainer. Let me know if you have any questions!
**Disclosure: I received a free stay at this hotel in exchange for a review, but this reflects my 100% honest opinion as always. I was raving about this hotel while on a tour in Rome, which the founder of EuroCheapo.com happened to also be on, and he shared my affinity for the hotel’s amazing location, price and owner. I promise it’s a great find!