We spent 5 nights at the Best Western Sant Elena, and overall were very happy with our stay.
Being an old convent, there is a lot of variation from room to room. Our room (314, a double on the second floor) was an adequate size, and had a nice view over towards the military academy playing fields (the downside is that you might hear reveille and taps being sounded). While some people might prefer a room with a garden view, we’d have to say that in mid March the interior courtyard garden was looking a little unloved.
There were a few things that weren’t perfect. The shower over the bath might be a little tight for larger people, and the double bed was two single beds pushed together, with the consequent ridge down the join a potential irritant, although the beds themselves were comfortable enough. The bottom sheet on the bed wasn’t really wide enough, and came loose easily. The fridge in the room also struggled to get anything cold, and the internet was unavailable quite a few times during our stay. There is an inbuilt clock in the bottom of the TV that shines so brightly that we finished up draping towels over the TV at night to muffle the ghostly green effect.
The main downside was the that, to our taste, the public areas of the hotel were seriously overheated. You could start an orchid farm on some of the landings. The hotel could cut its costs and reduce its carbon footprint significantly by dropping the temperature a few degrees. Even after getting the heating turned off in our room, to avoid being far too hot we slept with the windows open and with a rolled up towel against the big gap under the hall door to keep the room cool.
The included breakfast was fine, although the same offerings every day was getting a bit stale after 5 days. Hot options are scrambled eggs, bacon, and small sausages, but there are lots of cereals, spreads, hardboiled eggs and fruit. Sherban and the rest of the breakfast staff were terrific. Although the breakfast room gets very full at peak times, and they were very busy clearing tables, they were always happy to make us an espresso.
We also thought the housekeeping and cleanliness of the hotel was also very good.
We didn’t eat at the restaurant, although it does get reasonable reviews on TA. Maybe because it’s basically the same place you ate breakfast it didn’t somehow appeal to us.
We found the area of Sant Elena to be very interesting. As well as the adjacent old church (rarely open) and the amazingly derelict-looking stadium that is home to the Venice football team there are lots of interesting walks to be had through the back streets of Castello to places like San Pietro di Castello, the gardens of the Biennale, and the Arsenale. Don’t forget to ask for a copy of the very good complimentary map from reception. Its only a 20 minute walk to Piazza San Marco, if that's where you think you need to be.
For seeing how the Venetians live, have a spritz or beer in the local Bar Vincent (next to the small soccer pitch) which somehow or other manages to score a mention in a UK Daily Telegraph article on Venice restaurants. The friendly local pizzeria (Vecia Gina) is probably a better bet for food, and has excellent pizza and polenta, as well as also being a great place to rub shoulders with the locals.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Our romantic boutique hotel owes its secluded ambiance to the former convent in which it is housed and of which it still retains much of the original structure: the high walls and the imposing façade conceal unexpected gems such as the impressive spiral staircase and the amazing garden furnished with comfortable chaise-lounges. Venice, with its historic center and beautiful architecture, can be reached with a pleasant stroll along Riva degli Schiavoni, or in just a few minutes by waterbus. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Best Western Venice
- Venice Best Western