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Dorsoduro: La Calcina - Ruskin's House

Zattere 780, Phone: 041.520.64.66

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Reviewed by: Monica Pileggi from MD, review #1460

When: May 2006

Wonderful hotel in a great, quiet location of Venice. {3 stars}

Room 31 at the Calcina, photo by Monica J. Pileggi

I stayed at Pensione La Calcina for 5 nights (May 20th - 25th) and will state right away I will definitely return again! After being in Venice 4 times, this is the best place for me.

I got a quote of €106 per night for a double room with private bathroom, a view of the Giudecca Canal, and buffet breakfast (with cash payment).

I stayed in room 31, which faces the side canal; however, I could also see the Giudecca canal. My room was small with a single bed, closet, desk with lamp, chair, tv; mini bar; A/C; decent sized bathroom with shower and window in the shower; and a horrible vacuum type hair dryer. There's also a safe in the closet.

This room is located on the third floor. No elevator but there is always someone around to lug the luggage up those flights of stairs. On the main level next to the reception desk is a telephone booth to make calls, as well as a computer for free Internet access. There is also a nice sitting area and a breakfast room.

Breakfast, which was terrific, is served either inside, outside on the terrace, or on the roof terrace (for additional 4.50 euros). I enjoyed the terrace outside, as it hung over the water. Cruise ships passed by on a daily basis. Breakfast was always filling with choices of breads, cereals, pastries, eggs, ham, cheese, coffee, tea, and juice. Service from all waiters was fabulous. They were busy all the time but always with a smile. They were very professional in their uniform.

I had dinner one night at the hotel, choosing their €32 (rather than €22) menu for hotel guests. It was probably one of my best meals in Italy! Service was impeccable. If you are not staying at this hotel, I still recommend dining here. The service and food made me feel like I was at a 5-star hotel.

The location of the hotel is great, as it's away from the touristy and always crowded San Marco (especially when more than two cruise ships are in port) area. It’s only a 15-minute walk to Piazza San Marco ... if you don't stop to window shop along the way. The location is just down from the Zattere vaporetto stop, so there is no bridge to go over to get to the hotel with your luggage. I highly recommend this place and will keep La Calcina as my choice for future trips to Venice.

Reviewed by: Annie M from NY, review #1042

When: June 2005

Our recent trip to Italy began and ended with a stay at Pensione la Calcina, giving us the opportunity to experience two different types of rooms.

Our first night was in a room on the 2nd floor at €148/night. This room (I think it was Room #28) was billed as not having a view of the Giudecca Canal. We were, however, pleasantly surprised to find that it did have a nice partial view that included the small side canal (that was undergoing construction) and a good bit of the Giudecca Canal. In NYC apartment terms, that would definitely qualify as a “view.”

Even better was when we ended our trip back at La Calcina with three nights in a 3rd floor room (#33) (€175/night) described as having a view of the Giudecca Canal, and what a view it was! Our room had two large windows that let in lots of light and that breathtaking view. The kind of room you can enjoy coming back to in the middle of the day to freshen up, take a rest and just enjoy your surroundings (not like some small, dark, dreary hotel rooms that we've experienced). Our room had an A/C unit that we controlled and kept us nice and comfortable even on the hottest day/night.

Both rooms had a bathroom with a stall shower, nice towels and basic toiletries.

In his SlowTraveler review from a visit in 2003, Jonathan from the UK mentions free aperitivi, prosecco and nibbles being served in the lounge at 6 pm – I didn’t see any of this.

There is no elevator but they have the staff to help you with your bags.

The service was excellent. Everyone behind the front desk, the wait staff, the porters, etc. couldn't have been warmer, nicer or friendlier. They were very efficient and responsive to all of my emails prior to our arrival and particularly pleasant and accommodating once we arrived.

La Calcina is in a very nice location, away from the crowds yet near enough that we walked everywhere.

The Billa supermarket is nearby and we stopped in several times for wine, mineral water, cheese, prosciutto, breadsticks, etc. Great selection and excellent prices.

Minuses: 1) Upon check-in, I asked if they had a little street map of Venice for us. They gave us a big folding map and when we checked out I found a charge of €1.50 on our bill for it. 2) They have a very nice roof terrace (altana) that guests can reserve (no charge for that) but when we asked for wine glasses so we could enjoy the bottle of wine we had bought at supermarket, they brought the glasses up to us and charged us €4.50 for "room service." 3) Espresso, capuccino, etc. are included in the very nice breakfast buffet but there's a menu on the table that says they'll charge you for additional cups - I forget what the charge was (probably just a euro or two). After that I started always asking if there was a charge for things. Like when I asked for ice for our room, the answer was that if I waited for it and brought it up myself - no charge; if they brought it up €4.50 (in addition to what I would tip the person delivering it). 4) There's no fridge in the room - most of the hotels we've stayed in have had a small in-room fridge. 5) No trouser press and no iron to borrow. In fact, they clearly state that guests are not to wash, dry or iron clothing in their rooms. I can understand that they don't want guests to do "laundry" in the rooms but I could have used an iron (or, even better, a trouser press) to spruce up our slacks. 6) We had a meal at their outdoor restaurant our first night - they give a discount to hotel guests. We weren't very hungry and only ordered: one (inexpensive) bottle of wine, a bottle of mineral water, one very bland soup, one ok pasta dish, one entree and it came to €69.50. The entree was a very dried out and overcooked tuna steak. When our waiter asked us if everything was ok, I mentioned the tuna being so overcooked. He apologized and insisted on getting us another one (even though I said that wasn't necessary) - he was very nice about it. The replacement tuna was moister but still overcooked.

All in all, we loved la Calcina and I still sometimes take a small “fantasy” break during my day back home here in New York and picture our lovely, sun-drenched bedroom on the Giudecca Canal – instant stress reliever!

Would I stay again? If I were to stay in a hotel, yes. My preference, however, would be to stay for a week or two in an apartment.

Reviewed by: Amy B from US, review #872

When: August 2004

Wonderful AND reasonable canal-view hotel!

terrace of room 38, photo by Amy Baker

We stayed in a lovely double room with bath (room 38). The best thing about the room is the big balcony with a partial view of the Zattere and the Giudecca canal. The room was clean, had nice antiques, several big windows with shutters and pretty white linens. The only complaint I had was regarding the thin towels -- more like a heavy sheet -- but I've heard these are common in Italy.

The staff was very friendly and helpful in giving sightseeing advice. Breakfast was pleasant, served right on the canal-side outdoor restaurant. The manager told me room 4 is their best room -- canal-view AND a large terrace.

Reviewed by: Jonathan from UK, review #462

When: January 2003

Friendly small hotel with marvelous view; off the main tourist routes.

I agree with everything Colleen says about her stay in April '01. I, too, had a single with a view (€86 in low season 2003), though mine, the floor below hers, had no balcony. There is, however, an altana (rooftop terrace): pretty small (seats for around 6 people) - you pick up the key at reception.

At 6pm they serve free aperitivi in the lounge area: prosecco with campari, aperol, etc, plus nibbles. The breakfast buffet has a good selection of foods, though I wasn't as impressed with the coffee as Colleen was!

The location is towards the eastern end of Zattere; a short walk north (5 minutes) takes you up to Accademia and the Guggenheim, and a longer wander westwards will get you to the more lively parts of Dorsoduro (10 minutes: Campo S Margherita).

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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