Is Venice open for travel?
Hotel Ai Due Fanali
For years, Cheryl and I have walked past the Hotel Ai Due Fanali (sometimes referred to as the Hotel San Simeon Ai Due Fanali) and admired its nearly perfect location.
The small three-star hotel--along with two four-star hostelries, the Ca' Nigra Lagoon Resort and Hotel Canal Grande--is on the Campo San Simeon Grande, a quiet tree-shaded square that faces directly onto the Grand Canal. The campo is one of the most romantic spots in Venice, yet it's only a five-minute walk from the railroad station and a 10-minute walk from the airport buses, taxis, and cruise-ship shuttle buses in the Piazzale Roma.
A while ago, I had two nights to spend on my own in Venice, so I reserved a room at the Hotel Ai Due Fanali through our discount booking partner.
In this review, I'll describe my experience at the hotel, share photos and videos, and provide directions to the Hotel Ai Due Fanali from both the Venice railroad station and the Piazzale Roma.
I'd booked a single room, but when I arrived at the hotel, I was upgraded to room 303--a standard double room--at no extra charge.
Like nearly all of the Hotel Ai Due Fanali's rooms, room 303 looks out on the Campo San Simeon Grande.
In the photo above, you can see the Grand Canal at the far end of the peaceful square. On the right, brick columns support the altana or roof terrace above the third-floor breakfast room, which was just around the corner from my room.
The pigeon in the picture was room 303's self-appointed mascot: During my two-day visit, I often saw the bird perched on the windowsill, both when I was in the room and looking up at it from the campo.
Here's an exterior view of room 303, with the hotel's breakfast room and roof terrace next door. The resident pigeon is on the windowsill.
The Hotel Ai Due Fanali has only 16 rooms, so it has a cozy and decidedly non-corporate feel. It's a good choice for a reasonably-priced honeymoon or romantic getaway weekend.
Room 303 was small, but that's fairly typical of guestrooms in midpriced Venetian hotels.
If you need more space and can to spend a little more, try the four-star Ca' Nigra Lagoon Resort or the Hotel Canal Grande. Both hotels are also on the Campo San Simeon Grande, and Ca' Nigra--which has spacious rooms and a huge garden--is a sister property to the Hotel Ai Due Fanali.
There wasn't much room in room 303's closet, and space for luggage was in short supply, but I could have left a suitcase downstairs in the baggage room if I hadn't been traveling light.
Room 303's bathroom was also small, but it was nicely appointed with a marble countertop, a shower stall, and a powerful exhaust fan. (There were two minor annoyances--a persistent drip from the base of the faucet, and a drain-plug lever that tended to bind--but neither was serious enough to affect my overall opinion of the hotel.)
The bathroom didn't have room for a freestanding bidet, so an apparatus for spraying one's underside was built into the toilet seat.
At the Hotel Ai Due Fanali, a buffet breakfast is included in your room rate. The breakfast room is on the third floor--or the fourth floor, if you use American numbering. Its large windows overlook the Campo San Simeon Grande.
(At some times of the year, breakfast is served across the street in the hotel's luxurious sister property, the Ca' Nigra Lagoon Resort.)
In the photo above, you can see metal stairs behind a sliding glass door on the left side of the breakfast room. The stairs lead to a roof terrace ("altana" in Venetian dialect) where you can have breakfast or simply enjoy the view during the warmer months.
At breakfast, the tables are covered in white tablecloths. A buffet offers juices, fresh fruits, ham, cheese, boiled eggs, and other items. (But don't expect scrambled eggs, omelets, bacon, or sausages.)
The woman in charge of the breakfast room will bring a basket of rolls, apricot-filled croissants, and Italian-style packaged toast to your table. If you need more, you're welcome to fetch them from the buffet.
Coffee and hot milk are prepared with a traditional espresso machine and brought to your table.
The breakfast room's panoramic windows offer lovely views. In this photo, you can see the Ca' Nigra Lagoon Resort and its gardens, where guests of the Ai Due Fanali are welcome to enjoy an outdoor café that overlooks the Grand Canal.
This metal staircase leads upstairs to the roof terrace or altana. You'll need to carry your plate from the buffet up the stairs, but the woman in charge of the breakfast room will bring coffee and a bread basket to your table.
In this photo, which was taken on the roof terrace, you can see the tower of the Chiesa di San Simeone Profeta ("St. Simon the Prophet"), a 10th Century church that adjoins the hotel.
The entrance of the Hotel Ai Due Fanali has several covered tables under its awning. These tables are handy if you're connecting to the Internet with the city's public Wi-Fi Network. (I saw one lady guest with a laptop enjoying alfresco computing during my stay.)
The hotel's lobby has comfortable seating and a thoroughly Venetian atmosphere. A staircase and elevator lead to the guest rooms and breakfast room.
The reception desk is open from approximately 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
During the night hours, you can open the hotel's front door by holding the fob of your room key against an electronic reader.
If you have a problem at night that requires a human being's attention, you can get help from the concierge at the Ca' Nigra Lagoon Resort just across the square. (Ca' Nigra and the Ai Due Fanali are owned by same management.)
In Venice, street signs are often written in Venetian dialect. This sign near the Hotel Ai Due Fanali identifies the square as "Campo San Simon Grando," which is a different spelling from the Italian "Campo San Simeon Grande" that you're likely to see on your map.
How to book:
Although you can reserve directly with the hotel, I strongly recommend using Booking.com for two reasons: (1) We get a small commission if you book through our partner link, and (2) there's a good chance that you'll save money, as I did while staying at the Hotel Ai Due Fanali during one of Venice's most popular festivals.
To check rates or reserve a room, see Booking.com's Hotel Ai Due Fanali pages (which include photos and guest reviews).
Next page: Directions from the Venice railroad station
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