“Friendly palazzo B&B with dazzling chandeliers, plus apartments for 2-7 so you can live like a local”
The Main Palazzo hold the guests rooms, and there are a couple of apartments 5-10 minutes' walk away. The bedrooms are not the height of luxury or style, but perfectly clean and comfortable. Likewise the bathrooms, which are fine by Italian standards but in some cases could do with updating. But this is not a place you come for the décor - it's the friendly service and authentic location that lift it above the ordinary.
The guest rooms are spread over 3 floors and arranged around the owners’ own accommodation. Most look over the gardens (which are reserved for the owners’ use) and are very tranquil. Pride of place goes to the Junior Suite on the first floor - a huge L-shaped room with a mini grand piano, a double bed plus a sofa, bookshelves and pretty Venetian chandeliers. It’s perfect for a romantic retreat. The Superior Rooms also well sized. Some have double aspect views while others are more cosy and secluded.
The Standard Rooms are really nothing to write home about, but still clean, comfortable and well-kept. All rooms have TV, phone, air-conditioning, tea- and coffee-making facilities, minibar, breakfast table and a small, simple ensuite bathroom with a bathtub and shower.
The apartments offer a true live like a local experience, perfect for your second or third trip to the city. Both are furnished with a with a blend of antiques, oils and watercolours but with enough restraint that it feels like you can relax there, rather than constantly worry that you’ll break something.
Henry’s Haven (sleeping 2-6) is a plush 2-bedroom maisonette next to the Frari church with its own courtyard garden, living room, open-plan kitchen and ensuite bathrooms. Jeremy Irons stayed here while filming in Venice and wanted to buy it, largely because it has discreet entrances and exits down a choice of 2 tiny alleyways that would preserve his privacy.
We loved the Gaffaro apartment (sleeping 2-7) at the top of flight of narrow stairs in a palazzo turned residential block overlooking a canal. (Fortunately we didn’t have to bring heavy suitcases up - there’s no lift). Caterina can provide advice on which apartments will suit you - we recommend Henry’s Haven for a couple or small family and the Gaffaro for a group of friends or an older family.
B&B guests get a simple continental breakfast of rolls, brioche, orange juice, tea or coffee, jam, honey, cheese spread and yoghurt, which you can have brought to your room on request. Breakfast is usually served in the first-floor dining room on an antique dining table beneath the most enormous chandelier. There is a small patio downstairs and a roof terrace at the top of the palazzo.
The apartments also get a breakfast service - a 'welcome hamper' with daily top-up; but you’ll need to make your own hot drinks, of course, and get fresh bread from the canal-side shop, if you want it; you can also request the bar ticket for a nearby café as an alternative. With a reasonably well-equipped kitchen at your disposal, it is obviously much easier to supplement the breakfast, or indeed to rustle up your own simple lunches and dinners, should the mood take you. Each apartment has a few pots and pans, a coffee machine, a stove and oven, cutlery and crockery. It's fine for pastas or salads, but don’t plan any gastronomic feasts.
If you want to eat out, Antiche Carampane is very nearby (although ask for directions as it can be tricky to find); it’s a friendly, family-run establishment with incredibly delicious food - the best of our trip - sourced fresh from the Rialto Market that day. This excellence hasn’t gone unnoticed so ask someone at the B&B to help with booking a table. At lunchtime, grab a bite at one of the city’s barcari - small bars with even smaller dishes called cicheti (mini sandwiches, salads, cured hams and cheeses). They’re fast paced and often filled with locals; we were sat next to a gondolier on his lunch break.
Venice can be a tricky place to take kids: we took our baby and found hefting our pushchair up a million steps a day far from relaxing (bring a backpack if you don't want to suffer the same fate). That said, Italians love babies, and we were warmly welcomed wherever we went.
Toddlers will need an extra eye on them at all times but bigger children will enjoy the watery city as much as anyone (especially if they have a taste for gelato). Ca' della Corte's owners are very happy to see children and babies.
Food is easy (unless you're unlucky enough to have a child who doesn't like pizza and pasta) and the city's main attractions have family appeal - boats, beaches, grand art galleries and museums and wide piazzas.
The apartments are well suited for families with 1-2 children. Note that the Main Palazzo and the canalside apartment Gaffaro have a lot of stairs and no lift - not ideal with a pushchair. One of the Main Palazzo's Superior Rooms has a mezzanine level which makes it a pleasant option for families.
English-speaking babysitter can be arranged with advance notice.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The B&B serves breakfast but it isn't worth staying in for. If you're in an apartment, stock your fridge with goodies in advance. Feeding children in Venice is easy; tearing them away from the gelateria, not so...
Most of Venice's attractions are interesting for children - particularly anything on the water.
Steps up to the B&B and to the Gaffaro apartment aren't ideal if you have a pushchair and heavy luggage - there's no lift. Bring reins if you have a toddler who might run into the canal. Venice's many bridges are all stepped, and it is hard work with a pushchair.