Lovely and romantic, decked out with beamed ceilings, frescoes, and Murano glass chandeliers, Hotel Ai Cavalieri—set within a 16th-century palazzo—drips with Venetian charm. The hotel ups the cool factor with mixology-focused Bat Bar, where you can get a delicious cocktail after strolling the nearby canals, plus has an ultra-convenient though off-the-beaten-path location in the residential Castello neighborhood with easy access to the Rialto.
YOU SHOULD KNOW By all means, take advantage of the hotel’s free water taxi to the island of Murano. Just know that you’ll be pressured to buy something at a glass factory there—though the products are so gorgeous, it will be hard not to—and you'll have to pay for your own ride back, though one-way tickets are fairly cheap.
Guest rooms are spacious and attractive, with antique furniture, terrazzo floors or rich carpets, and sumptuous patterned wall fabrics. Some junior suites and higher-level rooms have private terraces with rooftop or canal views.
Marble bathrooms are luxurious; most only have showers except some in the junior suite and above categories.
You know you’re someplace special when you enter the striking lobby, with its beamed ceilings, marbled floors, and coolly elegant vibe.
Because the hotel has its own dock, you can take a private water taxi all the way to and from the airport in an hour faster than the public ferry—which can be worth every penny.
The Rialto vaporetto stops are about a 7-minute walk. Otherwise, your best bet is to use your own two feet to see all the sights, none of which are too far away.
The tasting menu of Venetian specialties at L’Osteria di Santa Marina (1-minute walk) comes highly recommended. Book far in advance to try popular Alle Testiere (2-minute walk), which specializes in the freshest seafood dishes and has a daily changing menu. Osteria Al Mascaron (2-minute walk) offers up delicious pasta and other straightforward Italian plates, served alongside a frequently rotating collection of Venetian and international art.
Zanzibar (2-minute walk) is a pleasant place to enjoy aperitivi with views of Santa Maria Formosa church. The wine bar Aciugheta (6-minute walk) specializes in cicchetti (bar snacks)—don’t miss the anchovy (aciugheta) minipizzas—paired with a large selection of local vinos.