To travel off the beaten path comfortably and really live the Carnival experience, you can't go wrong with a stay at the Locanda Orseolo, a small boutique hotel just steps from Saint Mark's Square. Even being in the heart of the Carnival area, the hotel is hidden away over a couple of little bridges and alleyways. Once at the hotel, you are truly away from the throngs of party goers whenever you need a break from the action. The photo below was taken from our room during Carnival. For prices and details, see www.locandaorseolo.com
Just a few hundred feet away from the hotel is Saint Mark's Square with it's spectacular Basilica, the Doge's Palace (where much of the Heath Ledger "Casanova" movie was filmed and where the real Casanova was held prisoner), and the Bridge of Sighs (from which prisoners had their last view of Venice before being locked up in the prison at the Doge's Palace).
In addition to its location, we love the Locando Orseola because its owner, Barbara Peruch, and her long-time assistants Gigi, Igor, Lorenzo and others always go above and beyond for every guest. The hotel had been a private home and each room is decorated with wall murals of traditional Venetian scenes. Each morning is a culinary delight with made-to-order breakfasts of omelets or fresh fruit crepes in addition to a vast array of homemade baked goods and fresh-squeezed juices. The living room area is an ideal spot to read a book or drink a glass of one of the famous wines from the Veneto region.
The staff are mostly native Venetians and they take great pride in Venice’s romantic reputation and are willing to satisfy almost any dream either at the Locando or at their sister hotel, Al Ponte Antico, which overlooks the Grand Canal and has a prime view of the Rialto Bridge. Previous guest requests have included flower strewn paths in the rooms, tickets to La Fenice Opera, and special bottles of Prosecco. The 4-star Al Ponte Antico is a palace from the 1500s that has been meticulously modernized and is truly a fantasy. See www.alponteantico.com
When it came time to say arrivederci to Venice we decided to leave in style with a private water taxi straight from our hotel to the airport. The 100 Euro price was a bit of a splurge but we view the trip as an adventure rather than mere transportation so we went for it. Our philosophy is to spend wisely so that we can always go for that extra experience that really makes a trip special. The boat came right to the window of the Locanda Orseola and after a not very graceful exit, we were traveling like James Bond would - from our Canal Orseola, up the Grand Canal and across the lagoon to the airport - travel off the beaten path comfortably!