Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Hotel Review: Hotel Flora, Venice

Right this way signore e signora
Oh how I wish we were back strolling the hot and steamy streets of Venice. I know I complained the entire three days about how unbearable it was and how little the air moved, but if I could wiggle my nose and go back there right now I promise I wouldn't utter a single negative peep. I swear on my alcohol-free smoothie.

Finding a family friendly hotel in the tiny floating city that annually welcomes almost three million tourists was a bit of a challenge. After quite a bit of google searching and thumbing through my Rick Steves' guidebook and my DK Family Guide to Italy, one particular hotel kept showing up, the Hotel Flora.

With a few emails back and forth we reserved their quad room which slept four, some rooms have twin beds for the kiddos but ours had a pull out couch. Location is key in Venice and the Hotel Flora is just a short five minute walk from the busy San Marco vaporetto (subway on the water) stop. Managing luggage and kiddos over bridges and crowded sidewalks while not losing one or the other into the canal can be a major accomplishment.

Hotel Flora is a charmingly understated boutique hotel in the city that practically invented opulence. Tucked back behind the Bulgari boutique off one of the most stylish shopping promenades in the world, this 17th century palazzo has just 43 rooms and has been tastefully renovated.

Their ivy covered courtyard offers a quiet and calming place to retreat when the sights, smells, and hustle of the busy streets become overwhelming. Even the little C&Gs were happy to abandon the crowds of Piazza San Marco to stage their afternoon action figure battles in the corner of the small courtyard.

There's no on-site restaurant, but there is the more important on-site bar, complete with charming Venetian bartender. He'll happily offer up afternoon tea, local wines, or any of your favorite cocktails. For the kiddos they have plenty of fruit juices and Big C&Gs favorite, Aranciata. Wi-fi reception is best from the couches in the lounge, and you'll get a more reliable connection with a drink in your hand.

Not a bad view when you throw open the shutters
Breakfast is included with your stay and it's buffet style with all the usual Italian charcuterie, cheeses, and pastries alongside cereals, yogurts and fresh fruit. Bring it out to one of the courtyard cafe tables and an aproned waiter will be along to take your espresso, cappuccino, or kid friendly steamed milk or hot chocolate order.

Rooms at the Hotel Flora are very reasonably priced (ours was €250/$340 a night) in a city that overcharges for practically just breathing the air. Venice is truly unique, the natives know it and you will be overcharged for just about everything. But it's an enchanting magical city that can't be missed. Even Little C&G will agree.

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