Anyone looking to get into the local swing of things in Venice should stay in a short-term rental apartment. For the same price or less than a hotel room, you could have your own one-bedroom apartment with a washing machine, A/C, and a fridge to keep your wine in. Properties of all sizes and styles, in every price range, are available for stays of 3 nights to several weeks.
In terms of location, San Marco is the most convenient part of the city, though anywhere near the Grand Canal will allow you easy access to the best of Venice. Apartments in the further reaches of Santa Croce, Cannaregio, Giudecca and Castello may be slightly cheaper and allow a glimpse of residential life in the city, but getting to and from the main sights will take a lot of time.
For those renting apartments, rather than staying in hotels, secure luggage storage facilities are available through Radical Storage (formerly Bagbnb).
Airbnb, VRBO.com, and Homeaway are now major players in Venice, each with more than 300 properties listed. On Airbnb you can rent a room in someone’s home from just 30€ per night. Couchsurfing (www.couchsurfing.com) is also popular and generally safe in Venice, though take the usual precautions (for those who don’t know the company, it allows locals to offer free rooms to travelers). Cities Reference (www.citiesreference.com; tel. 06/48903612) is the best traditional rental agency for Venice, with around 50 properties listed. The company’s no-surprises property descriptions come with helpful information and lots of photos. Cross Pollinate (www.cross-pollinate.com; tel. 06/99369799) is a multi-destination agency with a decent roster of personally inspected apartments and B&Bs in Venice, created by the American owners of the Beehive hotel in Rome. Rental in Venice (www.rentalinvenice.com; tel. 041/718981) has an alluring website—with video clips of the apartments—and the widest selection of midrange and luxury apartments in the prime San Marco zone (there are less expensive ones, too).
It’s standard practice for local rental agencies to collect 30% of the total rental amount upfront to secure a booking. When you check in, the balance of your rental fee is normally payable in cash only, so make sure you have enough euros in hand. Upon booking, the agency should provide you with detailed check-in procedures. Most apartments provide a list of nearby shops and services; beyond that, you’re on your own, which is what makes an apartment stay a great way to do as the Venetians do.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.