-- quiet location in family-friendly Venice, a destination your kids will remember forever.
Best Western is a familiar brand to North American family travelers, with more than 2000 hotels in North America, and a reputation for reasonable pricing and general family-friendliness.
Perhaps less well known is that Best Western is international in a big way, with some 4000 hotels in nearly 80 countries, including many places in Europe.
We sampled a Best Western Premier property on a family trip to one of our favorite cities: Venice. (The "Best Western Premier" brand means some extra service and amenities.)
Choose a North American Brand - in Europe?
Some travelers tsk-tsk American chains as a less authentic European experience. In fact, Best Western Europe properties are independantly owned, and styles vary greatly; many are in period buildings with all the expected European character (-reno'd within with all the latest mod-cons, of course). Throw into the mix: when we visited the Hotel Sant' Elena, most fellow-guests at breakfast were Italian.
Best Western Premier Hotel Sant' Elena
This hotel is just one of several Best Western, or Best Western Premier, properities in "La Serenissima" - as Venice is known.
I use the traditional name for Venice, "La Serenissima", which means "the most serene" - but in reality much of Venice can be quite hectic during tourist season. The Hotel Sant' Elena, however, has a peaceful location, with a large park and playground nearby. Yet access to St. Mark's Square is just a short vaporetto ride away. ("Vaporetto" passenger-ferries are the public transport in Venice; there's no automobile traffic.)
The building was formerly an old convent; within, it's completely redecorated and modernized.
Location: Venice is divided into six districts called sestiere; this hotel is in the Castello district, on a small island called Santelena, and just east of the Biennale Gardens. (See more about the Venice Sestiere.) Ambitious walkers could walk to St. Mark's Square in perhaps 15 minutes; or take a leisurely stroll and explore along the way. In the other direction, the vaporetto continues on to the Venice Lido beach area, just five minutes away.
What we liked about the Best Western Premier Hotel Sant' Elena:
- the vaporetto (foot-passenger ferry) was never crowded on this stretch of its route
- the large nearby park was an oasis of quiet, with local people walking dogs and watching kids enjoy a couple of playgrounds
- breakfasts (probably included in your nightly price) were an impressive spread, with cereal, yogurt, fruit, meats and cheeses, croissants, plus American-style bacon and eggs
- garden area -- formerly the cloister for the convent-- had a couple of lounge-chairs, and also an outdoor seating area for the restaurant
- our suite was roomy and nicely air-conditioned (during a hot August), and the internet access happened to be critical for us. Teens enjoyed the big screen tv. Nice touch: beamed ceilings in our top-floor suite.
Keep in mind about the Best Western Premier Hotel Sant' Elena:
• In addition to breakfast, Valentine's Restaurant in the hotel serves dinner and desserts, drinks and appetizers (though service may be limited at some times of year.)
• Visitors will want to get multi-day tourist passes for vaporetto transport: always a good idea for tourists in Venice, and especially so when staying in this location. Students get a good discount plus reduced admissions to some museums.
• Staff at the Hotel Sant'Elena speak English, French, German, and front desk is staffed 24 hours a day
Read about Venice With Kids, for tips and suggestions about what to do during your stay. Venice is a wonderful city to visit with kids!
Find out more about the Best Western Premier Hotel Sant' Elena:
- see PHOTOS
- See the Best Western Premier Sant'Elena site
- check visitors' comments at TripAdvisor.com - search for "Best Western Premier Hotel Sant' Elena"
- Check prices
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.