Gio & Gio

San Marco, Venice, Italy Book from

18th-century style with a contemporary twist in this elegant B&B, just 5 minutes’ walk from St Mark’s Square
How do you find authenticity in a city like Venice? With the full-time population depleted to little more than 60,000 and an influx of up to 20 million tourists a year, it’s not easy. But this historic, semi-aquatic and often quite mystical urbanisation has always defied the expectations of the outside world - and Gio & Gio ties right in with that.

As tourists pound the busy thoroughfare to nearby St Mark’s Square, you’ll slip through inconspicuous bottle- green doors, ascend a sweeping marble staircase and arrive in a little patch of Venetian heaven. Inside, 3 sumptuously dressed guest rooms and an understated Baroque lounge exhibit gilt gold mirrors, antique turquoise vases and 18th-century family portraits against powdery grey walls. The apartment, owned by the charming Gianni, has become a truly elegant oasis for culture-weary travellers. And as you unwind on the sofa, delicious coffee in hand (this is Italy, after all), the only indication of your busy city location will be the spirited gondolier repartee flooding the canal beneath you. Finding authenticity in Venice is rare; finding it for a good price with an adjacent gondolier stop is truly special.

Highs

  • Gianni’s insider tips will help you ‘live like a local’ - he knows the area and can recommend the best restaurants and things to do
  • Elegant décor that reflects Venetian tastes without looking like a theatre set
  • A brilliant location, moments from the Piazza San Marco and Teatro La Fenice, and just across the bridge there’s the Gallerie dell’Accadameia, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Punta della Dogana
  • Romantics will love the large Junior Suite with its canal views, Juliet balcony and table for in-room breakfasts
  • A group could book all 3 rooms, giving free rein of the apartment’s communal spaces (lounge and small kitchen)

Lows

  • Gio & Gio is an informal B&B rather than a hotel. There’s no reception, and the owners are only on-site in the morning (a phone number is provided for the rest of the time)
  • The apartment is quite intimate so expect to mingle with your fellow guests
  • The adjacent canal and its gondoliers are both a blessing and a curse - they can be noisy. If peace and quiet is a must, choose a Double Room
  • Rooms are small and in-room facilities are limited: no TV, radio, phone or safe box, though there’s a satellite TV in the shared lounge
  • Breakfast is disappointing but that’s common in Venice - pre-packaged pastries and breads

Best time to go

The general consensus is to aim for spring or autumn, when temperatures are mild enough that the city doesn't become claustrophobic (or smelly!). The famous carnival usually falls in February, as does Valentine's Day, both of which draw huge numbers of visitors. We visited at the end of February (just after these events) and found the city to be relatively quiet, creating a stunning, peaceful mood. Winter can be incredibly atmospheric (particularly if it snows), but it can also bring acqua altas (floods caused by high tides). If your visit does coincide with one, don't panic: they usually only last a few hours and the Venetians are well prepared (often with spare wellies at the ready!).

Our top tips

  • Venice is great for shopping - the streets leading to St Mark's Square are lined with exclusive designer stores, the Dorsoduro area is full of independent galleries, and San Polo has the Rialto market as well as great artisan masks and furnishings
  • Rather than ascending the busy Campanile di San Marco, take a vaporetto across the water to the Chiesa di San Giorgio bell tower. It's much quieter and the views encompass all of Venice's most iconic landmarks
  • Great for...

    Cheap & Chic
    City Style
    Family
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique B&B
    • 3
    • Breakfast only (walk to restaurants)
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    Room:

    Rooms

    Though the apartment is Gianni’s home, it mainly operates as a B&B and provides entirely independent accommodation for guests; Gianni simply spends a few hours on-site each morning during the daily maid service. Note, there’s no formal reception.

    This laid-back approach encourages guests to make use of the entire apartment. While bedrooms have minimal facilities - a hairdryer, toiletries and WiFi - the shared lounge has a satellite TV, a CD player and an enormous stack of magazines, plus there’s a coffee machine and seating in the small kitchen.

    But don’t be fooled, this is no ‘back to basics’ homestay. Soft-grey silk drapes fall from tall windows while queensize beds are dressed in pretty velvet cushions and sumptuous chocolate and plum bedding. Antique burl-wood chests and hardwood floors mix with ornate headboards, 18th-century portraits and red Murano-glass chandeliers to create a unifying sense of elegance.

    The spacious Junior Suite offers a particularly romantic stay. It is the only guest room to overlook the canal, and has a lovely Juliet balcony so you can throw open the French windows as you enjoy a summer’s breakfast (or wave to your lover as they cross the bridge outside!). Inside, a Classical tapestry hangs above a comfy sofa, but the ensuite shower room cuts a more modern figure with sandy marble tiling and a heated towel rail.

    Though not as spacious as the Junior Suite, the Double Rooms have their own strengths. One has a cosy fireplace, the other a bathtub and shower (rare in Venice); both encourage blissful slumbers thanks to their positions overlooking quiet walkways.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Central heating
    • Extra beds
    • Hairdryer
    • Honesty bar
    • Shared lounge (satellite TV)
    • Toiletries
    • WiFi

    Eating

    In the morning you can surface at your leisure, safe in the knowledge that breakfast will be waiting for you in the kitchen. One wall is lined with units holding a coffee machine and crockery, and there’s a fridge with a selection of chilled goodies assigned to each room (milk, butter, yoghurts and juice). Opposite, a selection of packaged breads, pastries, cakes, teas and jams sits atop the dining table, as well as a toaster and kettle.

    Though it isn’t the most decadent spread we’ve ever seen, it suits Gio & Gio’s ethos of prioritising informality and independence over traditional B&B service. The breakfast allows guests to make their own timetable, and Junior Suite guests have space to dine in their room.

    Being such a tourist honey-trap means there’s no shortage of eateries in Venice, but finding somewhere decent is another matter. Our advice would be to grab light-lunch bites 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 sat next to a gondolier on his lunch break.

    When choosing a restaurant for dinner, it’s worth seeking the advice of your hosts. Otherwise (unless you’ve done your research) it’s a bit of a lucky dip; you might get outstanding authentic cuisine, you might get something utterly awful. For a taste of iconic Venice, dine outdoors at Caffé Florian (Italy's oldest café) on the Piazza San Marco, or head to the famous (and outrageously expensive) Harry’s Bar for world-class Bellinis and Carpaccio.

    Features include:

    • Breakfast
    • Communal dining
    • Restaurants nearby
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Take a 5-minute walk to the most famous square in Venice. The Piazza San Marco is the centre of the action with the glittering Basilica di San Marco, the historic Palazzo Ducale, and the Museo Corror lining its tourist filled centre

    • Also within striking distance is the Teatro La Fenice, one of the most famous (and beautiful) theatres in Italy. It's worth booking tickets to the opera ahead of your trip, but daytime self-guided audio tours are available

    • Take to the water! The vaporetti (waterbuses) are a cost-effective and practical way to see the city, while the gondolas offer a quintessential (if pricey) Venetian experience. For something in between, hop on one of the traghetto, which commuters use to cross the Grand Canal

    • Cross the Accademia bridge to visit the famous gallery of the same name. A former convent, it now holds a world-class collection of pre-19th century art - highlights include Giorgione's The Tempest and Paolo Veronese's enormous (and controversial) Feast in the House of Levi

    • A little further into Dorsoduro you find Peggy Guggenheim’s famous modern art collection displayed in her impressive home overlooking the Grand Canal. Works on display include those by Pollock, Picasso and Peggy’s ex-husband, Max Ernst

    • At the very tip of Dorsoduro, where the Grand Canal meets open water, sits Punta della Dogana. This previously abandoned warehouse now hosts the contemporary art collection of billionaire Francois Pinault, after it controversially pipped Paris to the post in 2005

    • Enjoy a Vivaldi recital by acclaimed violin troop Interpreti Veneziani. Evening performances are regularly held in the Chiesa di San Vidal, where Renaissance masterpieces adorn the church’s walls

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Historical sites
    • Museums / galleries
    • Private guided tours
    • Shopping / markets

    Kids

    Gio & Gio welcomes all ages, but it's quite an intimate set-up so families will need to be considerate of their fellow guests. Better to book all 3 rooms and have the entire apartment to yourselves. There are 2 rollaway beds but no baby cots so you'd need to bring your own.

    Best for:

    Children (4-12 years)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    The Junior Suite has space for up to 2 extra beds. Families with older children could book 2 rooms; one of the Double Rooms can be made up as a twin. Babies are welcome but guests will have to provide their own baby cots.

    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    9/
    Rooms
    7/
    Food
    9/
    Service
    9/
    Value
    9/
    Overall

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