Just how important is the location of a hotel in contributing towards the success of a short break in one of Europe’s major cities? For many people a good central location close to many of the major sights is more important than the quality of the hotel and the range of facilities it offers. Here I’m going to consider this question focussing on the three major Italian cities of Venice, Florence and Rome.
Firstly, any one considering booking a hotel in Venice should make sure that their accommodation is on Venice Island and not across the water on the mainland in Venice Mestre. Hotels in Mestre are much cheaper but far less convenient for those people with just a few days to spare for exploring Venice. Venice Island is only about 3 miles by 2 miles in size and distances between monuments and sights can easily be covered very quickly on foot and by waterbus. Many people like to stay in the area around St. Mark’s Square but this area gets very crowded and hotel and restaurant prices do tend to be higher than in other parts of the island. As a good alternative it’s well worth considering staying at a hotel in the district of Cannareggio such as the excellent 3* Hotel Hesperia or the 4* Boscolo Bellini which overlooks the Grand Canal. It’s very easy to reach St. Mark’s on foot or by waterbus from both these hotels.
The centre of Florence is very compact. The area known as the Centro Storico is a UNESCO World Heritage site and includes the famous sites such as the Ponte Vecchio, the Uffizi Gallery and the Duomo. The excellent 4* Hotel Berchielli overlooks the River Arno just a short stroll away from the Ponte Vecchio and the 4* Laurus al Duomo enjoys a wonderful location very near the Duomo (Cathedral). Great deals can be found at these hotel during the low season period from November to March but high season prices are just that – high. A cheaper alternative for a 4* is to consider the area across the river just a short walk from the central sights where the charming Hotel Silla is located, and also the 3* PittiPalace. Many hotels are situated in the pleasant area around the Santa Maria Novella railway station. Hotel prices are cheaper and all the sights are within easy reach on foot.
A central hotel is invaluable to the city break tourist in Rome. Many hours of unnecessary travelling can be removed by choosing a hotel within easy reach of some of the sights. Of the central hotels, the cheaper ones tend to be in the area near Termini Station. Perhaps this area does not have the appeal of the narrow cobbled streets of the old town area around the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and Trevi Fountain, but it is very convenient for the airport bus or train and also for easy access on foot to the Colosseum and the Church of the Santa Maria Maggiore. The 4* Hotel Palladium Palace is always very welcoming and receives good reviews from guests and the Hotel Impero is a good 3* hotel. A little further west and particularly handy for visiting the impressive Roman remains of the Forum, the Hotel Virgilio is a 3* hotel recommended by many. It’s also well worth considering a hotel on the Vatican side of the River Tiber such as the 4* Cicerone. From here it’s just a short walk across the river to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain.
To sum up, location is really important to most travellers, but it’s always worth considering an alternative to the prime central location which most people have heard of. Value for money will often be far greater if you can search out a hotel which is just a little further from the most popular tourist sights yet still within the central area.