Continuing our early Venice travel story, here’s a list of things we wish someone had explained to us before booking Relais Piazza San Marco.
A Hotel? A Guesthouse? What Is Relais Piazza San Marco?
When we put Relais Piazza San Marco into Google search, it shows up as a 4-star hotel on the Google review page. After staying there ourselves, we can assure you that this is not a stared hotel, it’s a Bed and Breakfast (B&B). Why? The main difference is this… As a hotel, it must be accessible to the guest 24 hours a day, whereas Relais Piazza San Marco, its front desk only operates from 9am to 5pm, so too the elevator. Besides, for a 4-star hotel, there should be an in-house restaurant, a bar and a gym. Clearly Relais Piazza San Marco has been wrongly ranked by someone at some point. During our stay I had raised this question to a senior staff at reception, the Italian man gave me a doubtingly shocking look stating: ‘This is not a hotel!’
Don’t get me wrong, some of the best holiday accommodation experiences we’ve had are B&B. This is not about which one is better, it’s about not to be misled.
Lift Is Not Always Available
Relais Piazza San Marco’s rooms are set in two opposite historic buildings and they are about 30 metres away from each other. The (only) check-in office is on Level One of the building where we first stayed. ‘Guests must first negotiate a flight of stairs to reach the reception and the lift.’ Oh yes, they did warn us in the fine print of my booking’s confirmation email. What they did not mention was that if you happen to book the loft suite (like we did), there’s another flight of stairs once you reach the top floor of the lift. Oh, and when the office closes, so does the lift.
Since we had also booked another room in the other building for a few nights, it’s worth mentioning here that there’s no lift at all in the second building.
Suite With A View Of The Basilica
Suite with A View of the Basilica – that is the name of our suite. This loft suite was covered by matching fabric; from wall to drapes, bed; tables and floor coverings… a completely upholstered space. This traditional decor may not be everyone’s cup of tea (anyone with trypophobia, this is not for you!), but personally I found it rather funky. The living area was not as roomy as it appeared on the website; but then since we rarely spent time here, it did not matter. Our bed was large and comfortable enough; however, the main issue with the rooms was a lack of maintenance. Broken cabinet’s drawers, broken shower handles… furniture and fixtures were old and tired. Luckily, the Hotel Safe in this suite did work!
Our bathroom was clean, but the sink was blocked during our entire stay and guests were provided by the most basic toiletry. The good thing is, everything you need is at your doorstep, so why use the cheapest toiletry when you can stock up some nice ones at the nearest chemist… always look at the bright side.
The Rooftop Terrace And Its Views
The best thing about this loft suite in my opinion, is its rooftop terrace. During our 3-night stay, we had our breakfasts up here at the balcony always. The views of St Mark’s Basilica and St Mark’s Campanile – the bell tower, the fresh air and the morning sun… these reminded us why we booked here in the first place. The only negative is that you need to watch out for your food not to be taken by the large and aggressive seagulls. Then again, if you are a birdwatcher, this could be a positive experience! Once we left our tray with tiny little food in the balcony, we could hear seagulls fighting over it from downstairs. When the peace returned, I went upstairs to rescue a tray of cups and plates… Well no bread left, sachets of sugar and fruit jam in glass containers were still there. Considering how much noise they made, it was surprising that they didn’t break anything.
After our early morning photoshoot, what better place to be to indulge in breakfast at our private rooftop balcony! And the food? It was good and so was the coffee.
Location, Location, Location
Despite the inconveniences, such as limited lift service and broken fixtures; the great thing about Relais Piazza San Marco is its convenient location. Staying right beside the Piazza San Marco, we enjoyed the luxury of having the Piazza at our doorstep. Kent and I did our utmost to take advantage of this to be at the Piazza around dawn well before the crowds took over; it helped us capturing the uninterrupted beauty of the Queen of the Adriatic.
At nights, we would come back from our dinner somewhere and stroll around St Mark’s Square, gelato in our hands listening to not one, not two, but all three orchestras from three different restaurants – for free!
Room For Improvement
Free Wi-Fi? I’m afraid that’s not so free if it is almost non-existent! And it was super slow when we were there. But my major concern about the rooms is the lack of maintenance as I mentioned. I understand it could be difficult when the rooms are in high demand, but the owner or the management really should make it their priority during the low season. It did not seem to have been a priority for some time! The service and help from the front desk is very limited, outside the nine-to-five ‘office hours’ you are on your own. If you happen to book this loft suite too, make sure you ask for a spare key as you will need it to keep a light on, otherwise you will be walking into a pitch-black room when you return in the evening… Don’t say that I didn’t warn you!
A Traveller’s Note
For those of you who travel light, are fit and looking for a prime location to stay in Venice, this B&B is worth your consideration. We chose it for its St Mark’s Square location, that private rooftop terrace and at the end of it, these two big ticks served us well and have made our stay worthwhile.