The great advantage of a hotel is that it is a refuge from home life.
George Bernard Shaw
I am obsessed with hotels. I spend more time researching and comparing hotels, b & b’s, and odd little inns that I do planning the entire itinerary. Can I stay in monastery, is there a castle, a glamping hut? Once I stayed in a guest room in the oldest hospital in Paris.
But here is the thing. Your hotel is your home away from home and when you are a long way from home, it’s home base, theater, information center, companion, and solace. You’ll pick your bolthole differently than I do but here were my criteria for an off-season solo trip to Venice.
History. At the end of the day, when my feet are done but my imagination is still alive, I want to come home to a real destination. The Europa Regina has quite a history. It was originally five palaces – one belonged to the Tiepolo family who gave Venice two doges and a famous painter. Another of the palaces was originally the San Moise Theatre, home of Rossini’s first opera. Another became the Hotel Britannia where Monet stayed in 1908. Better yet, a part of the square used to be a workshop for gondolas, an iron chain was attached that when drawn from this spot across the Canal was a 9th century protection against pirates. Yes, pirates.
Public space. When I travel alone, a great lobby bar or veranda or library is important. A place to be near the flow of people, stories and the great parade. You can be ‘in’ but not isolated. The Europa Regina has a wonderful piano bar that opens onto a veranda overlooking the canal, ringed with leather chairs and endless bowls of olives. Especially in winter, this was perfect. As the sun set, but too early for dinner, I was ensconced with a campari spritz, my diary, and endless people-watching.
A sense of place. In my room, I was in Venice. On the first morning, I awoke to the flood sirens and leaned out my little window and watched the canal water lap over the pier and up into the walkways. The dome of Santa Maria della Salute loomed across the way. The daily traffic changed from early morning fruit deliveries to mid-day gondolas and vaporetti to evening quiet.
The practicalities were, well, practical. Now that it’s a Westin, I could use points for an opulent (and completely unaffordable otherwise) breakfast and those evening drinks. And they had resources and an extensive staff who were ready to offer advice and solve problems. The place was timeless but the service amenities were very Westin.
You will have different priorities but if you are on your own, think through what you want, how you want to start your day, what is important (security, location, price, comfort), and how you want to end the day as you return to your home base.
What I Learned
When you travel alone, single rooms can vary greatly. Here, the single rooms were really part of adjoining suites, a boon as the room itself was small but the bath was suite-worthy and wonderful.
Let the staff know if you love historic hotels. I let wrote that I was travelling alone with little luggage and wouldn’t mind an inconvenient or quirky room – if it had a great view or a story.
If it’s a special occasion, also let the staff know. I may have mentioned it was my birthday and on my special day, they delivered chocolates and flowers.
What’s nearby? At the Europe Regina, all of Venice is at your doorstep. You might enjoy the restaurant at another beautiful and historic hotel just steps away, the Saturnia-International. Delicious food and excellent service. You are also just two stops away, on the #1 vaporetti line, from Ca’ Rezzonico, a palazzo restored its 18th century grandeur with furnishings and art of the period.
Love this! When we were traveling last fall, Gerry called ahead to our next destination—Lough Eske Castle—juuuuuuust “to confirm” and to drop the information that we were on our honeymoon. Score! A handwritten card and chocolates in the room upon our arrival. And that we had the hotel on our itinerary at all had to do with an off-season practice of offering 3 nights for the price of 2, which made this otherwise not-in-our-budget high-end hotel affordable. (Still a splurge, but less so. And we loved it.)