“ Address: Piazza San Marco 877 / Venice I-3012 / Italy / Tel: 0039 041 5204277 / Rating: 3 Star „
Hotel Best Western Albergo San Marco (Venice)
My partner and I visited Venice in September 2009 and stayed at the Best Western Allbergo San Marco for four nights. We chose to stay in this hotel, partly because it is part of the Best Western hotel chain and partly because of its fantastic location, literally just behind St Mark's Square. We booked it as part of a flights and accommodation package from Expedia and the price was relatively reasonable for such a centrally located hotel. However, as soon as I'd booked, I then spotted a number of reviews giving the hotel poor ratings and immediately wondered what we'd let ourselves in for! The hotel does have a few good things going for it (as I try to find the best in any situation). However, my overall impression of the hotel was not great, and I would try not to stay there again.
The best thing about this hotel is its fantastic location. It is literally seconds from St Mark's Square, which makes it a great base for first time visitors to Venice. We arrived from the waterbus at almost midnight, so a relatively easy to find hotel was a necessity. Saying that, it was still difficult to find the hotel as the instructions and map on the hotel website were not clear and could have been a lot more detailed. Once we knew where it was, it was easy to find every time (just duck through an alley in the arcade of the square). The hotel has a canal on one side and a traditional Venetian street on the other with a number of interesting shops and cafes which are less touristy than the ones on St Mark's.
We did find the hotel slightly noisy due to a bar on the ground floor (not the hotel bar), which kept us awake. However, it wasn't too bad.
We hadn't expected spectacular accommodation and we weren't disappointed. Our room was on the top floor and you certainly couldn't call it 'generous'. It had a double bed, wardrobe with safe, desk, a minibar-fridge, a wall-mounted flat-screen telly with the usual channels and that was about it, and all (apart from the telly) had seen better days. There was just enough room to walk around the bed, but you couldn't swing a cat. Fair enough, we were out and about for a lot of the time, but we quite often like to have an afternoon snooze on holiday, and it was cramped! What floor space there was also sloped at quite an alarming angle, although that is a feature of old Venetian buildings.
The minibar had all the usual bits and bobs. We didn't eat or drink anything from it. However, the prices were about the same as in the surrounding shops, so you wouldn't really be losing out if you did (4 euros for a coke etc).
There was a working air-con unit which did a good job at keeping the room cool (although the waste water pipe for this seemed to be plumbed into the shower, which was not very nice. The bathroom was okish, although the toilet seat kept going skew-wiff and as well as the waste water pipe in the shower, the plug was slow draining and was covered by a manky shower matt. It was otherwise clean with plenty of hot water.
According to the website, the furnishings were supposed to be in a traditionally, ornate, Italian style. Whilst this is not to my taste at all, I was quite looking forward to the ornate, over-the-top décor. However, although the room was decorated in dark colours, with an ornate, brocade cover on the bed, it was cheaply and simply furnished - not a trace of Versace in sight! There was also a mildly unpleasant smell about the room that I couldn't place. It wasn't a stinky canal, as our room faced away from the canal, it had a slight sweet tinge to it. Not sure what it was!
One other thing is that I have a slight suspicion that the bed had bedbugs. Both me and my boyfriend do tend to get bitten when on holiday. However, we got bitten loads, particularly overnight (when we had shut the shutters and had the air-con on). I can't say for definite and don't want to cast aspersions on the hotel. However if you do visit, don't say I didn't warn you!
The breakfast was the best thing about the hotel by a mile! It had a wide selection including cereals, bread, meat, cheese, yoghurts, coffees, fruit juice and some weird omelette type food. You could easily fill up in the morning to last you the day, without having to pay extortionate Venetian prices for lunch, and keep going until evening. Breakfast is served in the hotel's bar/restaurant area and is included in the price of the room.
The staff were a mixed bag. Some of the older gentlemen on the front desk were as rude and unhelpful as possible, whereas one of the younger women in particular was extremely helpful and friendly.
The welcome pack said that tea and coffee making facilities would be provided on request. However, after asking two members of staff, they both refused to have any knowledge of what a kettle was or that the hotel would provide one free of charge. Therefore, both us caffine addicts were forced to pay around 6 euros each for a latte every time we wanted one from the surrounding cafes and bars. It would have been cheaper to have bought a kettle whilst we were there!
We had also specifically booked a smoking room (there was a booking option to do so) as my boyfriend likes the occasional ciggie and like almost everywhere else, it's illegal to smoke inside in Italy although not in hotel rooms. Again, we were denied a request for an ashtray in a very rude manner, even though we spotted that none of the bedrooms on our floor had no smoking signs anywhere, whereas those on other floors did. A pleasant explanation such as the hotel had subsequently become a non-smoking establishment would have been fine with us, but the hotel clerk just started saying that it was not possible that we could have made this booking and shaking his head, accusing us of lying!
The nice young woman allowed us to leave our bags in the hotel on our last day and helped us book a ghost walk in a friendly and charming manner, so bonus points for her.
---The hotel restaurant and bar---
We had a few drinks at the hotel bar one evening as it was so close. Two beers came to 18 Euros - standard price for Venice, but eye watering. The food didn't look great, so we didn't try it. We did have a latte each at 6 euros each which was nice!
Well this hotel didn't in any way live up to the quality I would expect from a Best Western branded establishment. As such, I wouldn't recommend it highly to anyone. It's OK for a night or two (if you can manage without coffee and deal with the potential bedbugs), but I would certainly not recommend it for a holiday or as being suitable for families. I would assume that due to its fantastic location it can continue to charge the prices it does, despite the rude staff and pretty shabby rooms as people will always come there. However, now having been to Venice, if I return, I would definitely stay somewhere less central and look for a much better quality hotel. Not recommended.