When I saw that the Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo has its own bridge leading across a small rio, as the side canals in Venice are called, to its courtyard entrance, I knew it was the place for me.
I wanted some real Venetian magic – a sense that we were staying in the heart of the city. I wanted palazzos, church bells, and echoing streets. Nestled in between a Baroque church overlooking the Grand Canal and the 16th-century Palazzo Mocenigo, where Lord Byron lived during his Venetian sojourn, the Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo did not disappoint.
This hotel is located just steps from the San Stae vaporetto stop, which is just four stops away from the train station and is also on the airport Alilaguna boat line. It’s also an easy 15-minute walk from the station, though you will have to cross a number of bridges if you choose that route. (Going up and down Venetian bridges with a suitcase isn’t hard if your bags aren’t too big and heavy and your children are old enough to pull their own.)
There’s much to love about this neighborhood. For one thing, it’s off the tourist track, a critical thing in a city where hoards of day-tripping cruise ship passengers routinely fill the narrow streets. There’s a real residential feel and shops where local artisans ply wares that are actually made in Venice. In the afternoon, swing by the nearby Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio, where schoolchildren play soccer and tag, and you’ll almost feel like a local.
Better still, it’s easy to walk from the hotel to Venice’s major attractions. The Rialto Market is 10 minutes away; Saint Mark’s Square or the Accademia are about 25. The vaporetto stop for Murano/Burano is reachable in under half an hour and the Number 1 line that stops at San Stae goes directly to the Lido stop.
I visited Venice with my husband Matt and 9- and 12-year-old sons. We stayed in a Superior Triple Room, which I had requested in advance to be set up for our family of four. The room itself is quite large by both European and American standards. It fit all four of us comfortably and did not at any point feel crowded. A large wardrobe and dresser gave us plenty of room for all our clothes. This room would also be perfect for a couple traveling with a baby (the hotel can provide a crib and a high chair).
The décor is very Venetian, with red brocade walls, a timbered ceiling, and a glass chandelier.
My boys are not small (my 13-year-old is nearly the same height I am) and yet neither of them complained about sleeping in the single pullout beds, saying they were very comfortable.
The bathroom was also generously sized, had a combined shower and tub, and was stocked with a hair dryer and lots of big, fluffy towels. In fact, the only thing about the room that was perhaps not up to luxury standards was the pillows, which were hard and flat.
One thing to note about the room is that you are given a card with your key that activates the electricity. When the card is removed, the power is off, which means you can’t leave your devices to charge during the day. However, I’m sure the staff would be happy to charge anything you leave at the desk (we didn’t ask to do this).
The hotel also has an apartment that’s available for families in a separate building.
The biggest amenity at this hotel is the friendly and courteous service. Everyone who worked at the front desk spoke better than passable English. In addition to providing maps, restaurant recommendations, and general tips about the neighborhood, they were also willing to make reservations or arrangements of any variety, from booking train tickets to arranging for tours.
Other small touches make the hotel a friendly and welcoming place. A stand by the door holds long-handled umbrellas for guests who might need them. The staff has free maps of Venice available at the front desk. The main landing on the first floor has a computer for web browsing and shelves filled with books left by previous guests. My husband and I sat there in comfortable chairs and enjoyed glasses of local red wine while the boys hung out in our room.
The WIFI at the hotel is free and worked perfectly.
Breakfast at the Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo was absolutely divine. Every morning we woke to the scent of freshly baked buttery croissants, which were filled with jam and served warm.
The accompanying buffet always had additional freshly made pastries both savory and sweet, yogurt, charcuterie, fruit, and cheeses. We were able not only to eat a full breakfast, but to grab some snacks to go that helped us get through the morning.
Breakfast is served in a small but lovely room that’s adjacent to the reception area. In warmer weather a sliding door opens onto a beautiful courtyard where guests can enjoy their meal al fresco.
No other meals are served at the hotel, but there are several neighborhood restaurants nearby. We had dinner at the Osteria Al Mocenigo, which offers Venetian specialties including delicious black squid ink pasta.
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Editor’s Note: Photos by Mara Gorman
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