Between gondola rides, fritto misto eaten on the canal bank-side and picture-perfect architecture, Venice has all the requirements needed to steal anybody’s heart.
Far from flashing lights of Paris, the overpriced champagne and overcrowded and pricey fancy restaurants, the Italian city is all about simple and genuine romance.
Walking around the ancient pebblestone pavement, the canals full of boats, gondolas and ducks, and the impressive architecture which has resisted wars, invasions and natural disasters – it’s impossible to not feel like you’re on a film set.
Venice is small but mighty, and there is a lot to see so choosing the perfect location is a must to enjoy a full weekend in the city. Ideally, you want to be close to the centre but far enough away from the main tourist attractions to enjoy the company of locals, go out for an impromptu spritz and see the real Venice.
Grand Hotel dei Dogi is located in the northern part of Venice, in a neighbourhood called Cannaregio. It’s only a 25-minute walk to Piazza San Marco and other famous sights such as the Rialto bridge and La Fenice theatre, yet still far enough from the touristy crowds. Around the corner from the hotel, the Church of Madonna dell’Orto is worth a visit. The city’s only casino is also very close if you want to try your luck.
The hotel’s location is perfect to mix with the locals and try some of the Venetian specialities like cicchetti (or Venetian tapas) that, in simple words, are a selection of baguette-style bread toasted and topped with different Italian delicacies, from mortadella or beef tartare, to fresh cheese and more elaborate toppings. Your cicchetti can be accompanied by a traditional spritz, a delicious Tuscan wine or an incredibly tasty Venetian beer like the Sammarco, that has been around since 1908.
It’s fair to feel fuzzy inside when entering the Grand Hotel dei Dogi. The building is located just in front of the canal, on Fondamenta Madonna dell’Orto, and it feels like being transported to another era. The white and red mooring pools in the canal, facing the entrance, the incredible Venetian facade of the building and the stunning marble lobby make the arrival to Venice something even more special.
If the lobby is stunning, the secret garden has to be the icing on the cake. A little green oasis in the middle of the water (almost literally), the Grand Hotel dei Dogi’s garden is big, lush and sun-kissed for most of the day. Luckily, that is also the place where you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner during your stay. Even if you are just strolling by, it’s a wonderful place to stop for a coffee, far from the buzzing city centre. At the end of the garden there is a private dock where boats (reserved for the hotel guests) come and go to San Marco square all day long.
Even though the overall architecture of the hotel, from the lobby and the garden to the atriums on each floor, is quite classically Venetian, the rooms have a more modern look.
The bed is big and comfortable and there is enough space in the room to enjoy some downtime without feeling claustrophobic. The bathroom is very light and made of white marble and features products from the famous Italian brand Acqua di Parma.
If you’re lucky enough to be staying on the fourth floor, a view of the Venetian rooftops will be your morning panorama for the duration of your stay. Not as famous as Paris’ rooftops but just as pretty.
The hotel’s small spa offers a range of treatments as well as a steam room and jacuzzi.
Venice is small but can be tricky to navigate due to the numerous canals and lack of roads. Taking the water taxi can be pricey so it’s nice to have a private boat that takes the hotel guests back and forth from San Marco square and Murano island, where it’s even possible to enjoy a tour of one of the glass-making factories that made the island famous all over the world.
Food & Drinks
Il Giardino Segreto
If visiting Venice during the summer, Il Giardino Segreto (The Secret Garden) restaurant is a perfect spot to enjoy some real Venetian spritz (made with Select, not Aperol) under the sun while discovering the regional specialities.
Start with some perfectly cooked pasta but don’t miss the famous fritto misto – a mix of squid, shrimp and other small fish battered and deep fried – and remember to leave some space for their ‘rosamisù’, a classic tiramisù with a rose water twist.
To try the real Venetian aperitivo, head to Al Timon. Just five minutes away from the hotel, on Fondamenta dei Ormesini, the restaurant is usually full of locals sipping spritz on the canal bank-side and a few lucky tourists looking ecstatic.
To try real Venetian aperitivo, head to Al Timon. It’s just five minutes away from the hotel, on Fondamenta Dei Ormesini and the restaurant is usually full of locals sipping spritz canalside along with a few happy-looking tourists. Al Timon is also a steakhouse and the perfect place to taste some real Venetian cooking while enjoying the stunning views.
As well as a regional specialty, fritto misto is also the go-to street food of the Venetian locals. If you’re hungry during the day – or want a quick lunch while exploring the city – you’ll find the best fritto misto in Cannaregio.
Frito Inn is a tiny take-away restaurant with only a window to serve food from and no tables, but it’s definitely worth a visit. The classic fried fish is a must but if you have a little space for something special, make sure you try one of their mozzarella in carrozza – basically an Italian version of a French croque monsieur (but better).
How to get to Grand Hotel dei Dogi
Getting to Grand Hotel dei Dogi couldn’t be easier.
If you arrive at Venice’s Marco Polo Airport, take a boat (€15) to the stop Madonna dell’Orto, which is only three minutes from the hotel.
If you are flying Ryanair and you arrive in Treviso, you can catch a bus that takes you to the centre of Venice and then take a city bus or walk to the hotel. You can also take a city bus from Treviso airport to Treviso train station and, from there, a train (around €7) to Venezia Santa Lucia, which is only a 15 minute walk from the hotel.
- There is a lot to see in Venice but it’s still a small city. If you like to walk you can save a bit of money as public transport can get quite pricey. One trip on a boat-bus is €7.50 and a day pass is €20.
- If you have a morning to spare, you can visit the isle of Murano, just 10-minute boat ride away from mainland Venice. There, you can check out one of the many glass-making ateliers that made the island famous worldwide. Grand Hotel dei Dogi organises visits to Murano daily, free for its guests.
- If you are staying in Venice an extra day, a day-trip to another island, Burano, is highly recommended. Burano is around 30 minutes away by boat from mainland Venice but the Instagram-worthy colourful houses that reflect on the canal are worth the hassle.
The Dedica Anthology offers rooms at Grand Hotel dei Dogi from 150 Euros per night based on two people sharing a double room with breakfast.