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Dorsoduro: Pensione Accademia - Villa Maravege

Phone: 041.5210188

Reviewed by: Sharon J from TX, review #2385

When: September 2008

Another Wonderful Stay

This was our fourth visit to the Accademia and we always feel so comfortable there.

I think it's the gardens, where we go at the end of a long day to relax. The front courtyard is beautiful and has a pergola, which has been improved over the past year to include comfortable teak furniture. We spend many hours here with a bottle of wine, watching the traffic on the small canal which fronts the hotel, but can also see the Grand Canal.

There is a large garden area behind the hotel as well, with grass, rose bushes and beautiful trees where they have chaise lounges for relaxation. It just doesn't get any better.

Our room was rather small, but perfectly comfortable. I think we spend more time than most people at the hotel because it's so relaxing. There was a flat screen TV in the room, king bed and two chairs at the foot of the bed. The bathroom was really small, but did have one of those small enclosed showers. The air conditioner worked really well. We had two windows overlooking the small canal.

This is not an easy hotel for people with walking or climbing issues, since there is always the main flight of stairs to climb and depending on what floor you are on, another small, rather steep set of stairs. This was the first time we've been on the top floor. Most other rooms only have the one flight to contend with.

There is also a wonderful suite behind the hotel and gardens. If I wanted to splurge, that would be the place I would stay. It even has a fireplace if you stayed during the winder months.

The breakfast was the normal fare, but they do serve scrambled eggs and eating outside on the front courtyard is a wonderful way to start the day. Big umbrellas shade the tables and coffee or tea is brought to your table.

We reserved our room over a year before our stay, so our rate was 225 per night. We paid for one night in advance and, thank goodness, the dollar got a bit stronger during our stay.

We love the location of the Accademia and it's right across the canal from the terrific Taverna San Trovaso. We enjoyed two great meals there during our stay. One other night we ate at Da Sandro and loved it. All locals and we had the best time. We didn't love Da Silvio so much and would not return.

Reviewed by: amaronemmm from Canada, review #2012

When: July 2007

A well-appointed room, beautiful surroundings, and helpful staff.

Showers which work are a priority for us, the rest was icing on the cake!, photo by Jeff H

I had made a booking for Pensione Accademia on the recommendation of my husband's colleague who had stayed here several times. I continued to research the Pensione Accademia, and it was highly recommended in "Eyewitness Italy", "Rick Steves' Italy 2007", Tripadvisor, as well as Slow Travel. While I had read a couple of mixed reviews, I knew from a previous trip to Venice that it was in a location a short distance away from Piazza San Marco.

Also, some of these reviews I could discount because they described the size of the room, which is an extremely personal subject because, after all, this is Venice! Of course things are at least a little smaller!

I had no real trouble with making a booking, however, I did make a couple of inquiries before booking. Originally, I had enquired as to the price for a double room for two nights. I was given a rate of 139/night. Then I noticed that in Rick Steves book (please I do not want to see the shuddering), that if you were staying in a double-superior room then you received 10% off, with the book. I had my husband make another inquiry a few days later from his email address. Why not? He was quoted 169 a night. For some crazy reason, we still wanted to splurge with a conveivably nicer room since it was the beginning of our honeymoon. Our room #44 was beautiful, but later we would find almost not worth the hassle.

Even though I had specifically confirmed that the 10% off was from the entire bill, even though they would have to bill one full night's stay as a deposit, on credit card. When we were checking out, the discount was suddenly just off of the second night and not the whole bill. We kept discussing this with the gentleman at the desk showing our emails, and him showing his - but it was all lost in translation, as he would continually say, "You have already paid for the first night." We cut our fairly insignificant losses, knowing full well that I would write reviews when I arrived home telling everyone else to never request this Rick Steves discount, which does not specify that you must pay the first night in full and the 10% discount is off of the remaining nights.

The discount also requires you to show the book, and while I attempted to pay the bill several times before check-out, when I had the book handy, the desk was quite adamant that I pay upon check-out. I say take the money when you can get it! In any case, this also required me to go back up to the room and take it out of my suitcase, which seemed to greatly annoy the gentleman, and he had to inspect the book as if it was a fraudulent Rick Steves book! I think at this point I was making an unimpressed face because he was being ridiculous, although I guess it is boring to sit at a desk there all day and everyone needs their entertainment. From then, and when we picked up our bags a couple hours later - the previously courteous desk staff, hardly said a word to us when we came to pick up our bags, and left.

Perhaps this makes me sound like a nightmare traveller, but I have seen more Italians argue over the bill than tourists any day. Plus, there also was no particular argument, but it was a very mild discussion.

Previous to this, every single other time we came or went, there were always pleasant greetings involved when we picked up or left our key. It was a little strange for the desk not to say good-bye, or respond to our good-bye (in Italian, as most of our conversations were), even though previously, they were nothing but very helpful and pleasant. I just kind of laugh because it is quirky, and all part of travelling, but too bad nontheless. It did end up that a half-hour after leaving we realized that they did not end up charging us for internet (E4/half-hour), nor for the cappuccinos at breakfast (although we are still not sure if they were supposed to be included or not).

Yes the staff does recommend a "free" tour of Murano, and a restaurant owned by the hotel...these are pretty standard for Venice, so just know this going to Venice, period, and ignore it. If you are already reading accommodation reviews for Venice, it takes only another click or two, to find a restaurant that you might enjoy.

In terms of location, I realize that when looking at a map of Venice, it can almost seem quite large, but anywhere in Venice can be well located if you already know where you might like to eat. Nothing is very far, but can become far only if your feet are already beyond tired, and you still have a long walk ahead after dinner when the fatigue really kicks in. I liked that Pensione Accademia was also close to the Zattere "stop" of the Alilaguna shuttle boat from Marco Polo airport. We each had one wheeled suitcase, and had only 6 steps up and 6 steps down to reach the Pensione. This was not a problem for us at one fifth of the cost. There is also a private dock of the hotel to receive water taxi's.

If you arrived after the gate to the garden is closed later in the evening, there is a buzzer to let you into the garden leading to the front door. The welcome at the door was professional, and extremely pleasant. To be honest, at the end of the day I am more concerned that there is hot water to shower with, than worrying about the friendliness of the front desk. However, a friendly French-speaking gentleman carried our bags up for us (both at the same time and they were heavy!), and was extremely gracious in also showing us all of the amenities our room offered us. This is a service we encountered at a few other places we stayed, but here was the most sincere, maybe because we were responding in French to the kind gentleman, but he was actually very helpful and genuine. Many rooms in Italy have quirks that are good to know, like in this room, the electricity does not work unless your keys are hanging on a hook near the door. It is quite a brilliant idea, as the keys never seemed to roam around the room by themselves.

The room itself had us tickled pink, it was love at first sight! There were three large windows in the room with canal views, as well as another window in the bathroom. As nearly everywhere in Italy, the double bed is two smaller beds pushed together (I think many North Americans would be caught off-guard not knowing this, as I understand from other reviews, so it is something common to know).

The furnishings were very ornate, with a beautiful wooden armoire, desk, murano glass chandelier, night-tables, marble or similar in the bathroom. The room and bathroom were spotless. Other amenities include: a safe, mini-fridge, flat-screen television, a make-up mirror, a bathtub (SO nice for soaking swollen feet), hair-dryer, several toiletries, towel warmer, wooden "iron"/press, two bathroom sinks, a stool to do make-up/hair in the bathroom, bathmat, bidet, remote for the air-conditioner, the list goes on. There was never any noise, but we did not nap or sleep-in, and we were very tired.

Some of the best things about Pensione Accademia are the gardens in the front and the back. I would think that either a room with a canal view or a room with a garden view (or in the garden) would be fabulous. There is also a light cocktail hour from 4pm - 7pm, a nice touch, but we did not take advantage of this. It seemed quite confusing and awkward, as there is a bar with items also available for purchase. No matter, the gardens are always yours, with many secluded little corners to relax. It is nice to enjoy a little sandwich or pastry from a nearby shop.

Breakfast 7:15-10:30am, was the time I was indicated in an email before arrival - however, I believe it was actually from 7am to 10am. The breakfast main reason Pensione was recommended by the colleague. It was fantastic to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air and the garden, an amazing way to start the day! Normally, I am not a traveller who requires a breakfast, as I like to seek out a pastry or store on my own.

However, this is not the easiest to do in Venice, nor is it something you would want to do on the first day of a trip - especially if it is perhaps a Sunday everything could be closed! I discovered this on a previous trip, only made worse by the fact that you need to reserve your steps. There were eggs, bacon, cereals, milk, yogourt, granola, pastries, juices, toast and jam, fruit (it is Venice and so fruit is more of a luxury, but I didn't have any luck finding an apple which was still juicy.) All of it was very good, but nothing to write home about on any one front, except that it was much more substantial than simply a caffe and pastry.

All in all, I would stay here again, despite of our tarnished ending to an otherwise perfect stay. It really is a wonderful place, and 99% percent of the time the staff were well beyond courteous and pleasant.

Reviewed by: Liz from Canada (moderator), review #365

When: August 2003

Great location, quiet, oozing with charm! {3 star}

This canal side hotel was pretty much perfect for our first visit to Venice. The gardens and terrace were perfect for relaxing with a glass of prosecco after touring Venice in the extreme heat of August. The air-conditioners were a big bonus! We had a canal side room (Room #51) which the 4 of us shared, a little cramped but hey, we were only in there to sleep! The bathrooms were very luxurious as well.

The service was very good and the breakfasts were some of the best we had all trip. This hotel is very popular and apparently if you don't book at least 6 months in advance it's difficult to get in. Accademia - Villa Maravege is in the mid upper range of price for Venice (265 a night in August.)

Would stay there again in a heartbeat during the spring or fall, but in the summer I would opt for a place with a pool, which we all really missed during the heat wave we experienced!

P.S. Rent the classic movie Summertime with Katharine Hepburn before going; you'll see shots of the hotel in it.

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

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