Ahhh Venice! For the solo traveler just thinking about this magical destination breeds wanderlust. Visions of floating down the Grand Canal in a gondola, enjoying heavenly gelato daily or wandering through the ally ways of this Old World city makes a solo traveler want to "just pick up and go" to experience this unique city's many splendid sites and culture.
While Venice is a "must do" on most solo traveler's bucket list, it is often overlooked because Venice is expensive. Tourism is the city's biggest economic driver and consequently, the hotel, food, transportation and shopping costs are on the high side. You have to plan and budget properly in order not to waste oodles of money when visiting the "Queen of the Adriatic."
First and foremost, the hotels tend to be extremely overpriced. Not quite as expensive as Paris, London, New York or Tokyo but costly enough to make finding a wonderful place to stay at a reasonable price is a challenge. Most of the luxury lodging options which are near the major sites are the worse in terms of cost. Many are out-of-this world beautiful but in my opinion, not worth the expense.
Before visiting this exotic city, I did an extensive hotel search. My lodging requirements were the following:
- Four or five star rating, $225 and under
- Excellent consumer reviews
- Conveniently located near a vaporetto stop
- Upscale Venetian style interiors
- Guest room with a tub-shower combination
- Comfortable bar or exterior common areas for enjoying an evening glass of wine
- Full service concierge
- Unique and memorable ambiance
Bottomline, I wanted a hotel that offered luxury at an affordable price located in a safe, strategic location.
I narrowed my search down to two choices, the Hotel Ai Mori D'Oriente and the Carnival Palace in the Cannaregio district which is where the most of the resident Venetians reside. Unfortunately, a large part of the population who work in Venice now live outside the city on the mainland for monetary reasons. Cannaregio is the best area to get the feel of Old World Venice that is away from the maddening overflow of tourists that plague the city but walkable or via Vaparetto convenient to everything you would want to do or see.
The Hotel Ai Mori D'Oriente ended up being my choice after an in depth comparison. It was slightly more affordable, the interiors were more refined and overall, it had a comfortable feel vs the glitzy essence of the Carnival Palace. The most basic standard room price per night including a buffet style breakfast costs between $115 - $445 depending whether you are traveling in the low or high season. I was there in the shoulder season and paid $228 per night.
Booking online can be deceptive and a bit scary because you can never tell if what you're seeing and reading to make your hotel decision is accurate, especially the reviews. I'm always relieved when my first impression as I enter the lobby of my chosen hotel is a good one; plus, when I enter my room I know this place suits "my fancy." The Hotel Ai Mori D' Oriente was great from the moment I checked in till I left to catch my flight back home. Upon check in the friendly desk staff explained the hotel's amenities and shared they were available 24 hours a day to satisfy whatever needs or demands I had.
My initial reaction to my room was WOW! The elegant Moorish appointed bed adorned with Venetian silk fabric on the headboard and canopy, the exotic light fixtures and the beautiful antique furnishings made me feel a bit regal. I immediately opened the windows, something I love to do in Europe when the weather is cool, and heard church bells ringing. "Yes, this is heavenly Venice," entered my thoughts.
After unpacking and putting my valuables in the room's safe, I headed canal side to have a light lunch after a long journey from Louisiana. The accommodating bartender prepared a delicious prosciutto, melon and cheese plate accompanied with bread for me and recommended a glass of light, white wine from the Veneto region as my beverage but I declined and ordered a "good ole" Coke instead since I wanted to stay up to fight my jet lag.
As I enjoyed my first meal in Venice, I watched the gondolas and water taxis pass going about their regular day. Yes, I was so lucky to be in Venice and yes, I had chosen a "special" hotel to spend my time in this gorgeous city.
After a restful first night, I headed to breakfast and was pleased with the wonderful buffet of cold and hot food selections. The coffee served was hot and strong, just like I prefer it. Another delightful surprise was you could eat outside in the hotel's intimate courtyard, a great place to start your day.
If you are considering traveling to Venice and want to stay in a former 15th century Moorish palazzo, I highly recommend the four star, boutique Hotel Ai Mori D'Oriente. It's comfortable, luxurious and affordable.
Enjoy this short video showcasing this gem of a hotel. Likewise, if you have any questions about Venice, this hotel or any other solo travel related questions, please share them in the comment section. As always, I love to hear from my readers and will promptly respond to your comments and inquiries.