From history to romance and art, Venice has a lot to offer which is why it’s a mandatory stop on European itineraries for backpackers and tour groups alike. With the influx of tourism the city has been experiencing, the hotel offerings for those looking for a luxury stay are either lackluster or ultra-expensive. However, nestled into a quiet alleyway just a few blocks off Piazza San Marco is the Westin Europa & Regina delivering a classical, luxurious stay at a moderate price.
An ideal location for Venice
As the adage goes about Venice, “The closer you are to Piazza San Marco, the more expensive things get.” The Westin Europa & Regina is located just close enough to the Venice’s famed square for convenience but far enough away that you won’t need to dip into your child’s college savings account for lunch. The hotel is located only a 10-minute walk from Piazza San Marco over two small bridges. Venice’s main theatre and artist district is even closer offering plenty of shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars.
As if the centrality to Piazza San Marco wasn’t enough, the hotel is also located on the Grand Canal. Many of the rooms boast sweeping views of the canals, and guests can wake up to the sound of gondolas splashing through the water. The location also allows for some spectacular views from the restaurants.
Like almost everywhere in Venice, finding the hotel can be rather difficult. From land, the Westin Europa & Regina is located down some not very well marked, desolate looking alleys. The preferred arrival to the hotel is by water taxi. However, the cost can be rather steep at 167 EUR (189 USD) from the airport and 70 EUR (79 USD) from the train station. For those comfortable working a map, strong enough to walk several blocks with your luggage, and not intimidated by a maze of unmarked roads, the walk from the Alilaguna stop San Marco Valeresso is quite possible. As San Marco has two Alilaguna stops, be sure to exit at Valeresso. The cost is only 15 EUR (17 USD).
A hotel with history
Guests are immediately transported to an era of Venice’s elegant past as they enter the lobby with its black and white marble floors, granite columns, dark wood, and Murano glass chandeliers. The hotel itself is made up of five palaces from the 18th and 19th centuries. One of the palaces was home to the San Moisé Theatre, and another to artist Giambattista Tiepolos’ family.
Since the hotel consists of a labyrinth of historical palaces, navigating the halls can be rather difficult with its narrow corridors and odd stairways. This is just part of the territory of staying in a historic hotel. At least there’s an elevator!
Hotel rooms with a touch of modern elegance
The Westin Europa & Regina went through a restoration in 2009 and redecorated all 185 guest rooms and suites. Many touches of the past were left intact like classic light fixtures, marble sinks, and classically patterned wallpapers. The color scheme leans heavily on ivory to add a sense of warmth and brightness to the rooms.
Of course, all the modern touches that guests have come to love about the Westin brand are in place like flat screen TVs, Heavenly beds, in-room spa services, dual-head Heavenly showers, and white tea toiletries. The pampering allows guests to feel like modern aristocrats during their stay.
Venice is notorious for small hotel rooms. However, most of the rooms at the Westin Europa & Regina are quite large. Some suites even boast two bathrooms and terraces overlooking the Grand Canal for 2,550 EUR (2,884 USD) a night. Standard rooms start at 172 EUR (194 USD). The hotel often runs specials if those prices are a bit steep for you.
Dining with a view
Guests would be remiss not to enjoy at least one meal at the hotel for the views of the Grand Canal alone. I recommend breakfast. At 31 EUR (35 USD), the buffet offers something for everyone from classic European breakfast to continental to full American fare. There’s even a wide range of smoothies for the health conscious. It’s easy to linger for hours over a cup of coffee, staring across the famed waterway. Starwood Platinum members enjoy this same breakfast free.
If the price tag for food is a bit steep for your budget, at least drop in during the evening for a sundowner and watch the color of the water and historic buildings change as the sun goes down. I also recommend the bar once it’s dark. An illustrious feel made me think the ghost of Hemingway could be sitting next to me. He wouldn’t be though. His haunt was Harry’s Bar.
A true Venetian experience
Venice’s history is steeped with artists, writers, and business moguls who flocked to the island’s hotels to be pampered and treated like the noblemen they thought they were. Some of that pampering is still alive at the Westin Europa & Regina with its quiet elegance, comfortable touches, and breathtaking views of the Grand Canal. It’s a hotel that allows guests to experience a bygone era just for a little while.