I'll be going with my family (including two teenage girls) to Italy in Oct 2007 and plan a 3 night stay to see Venice. We'll fly into Venice, but I was concidering staying in Mestre or Padua and taking the trains during the day to see Venice.The hotels would be near the train stations making travel easier and also would be cheaper. We plan to go to Florence then Rome over a 2 week stay. Is lodging outside of Venice a good or bad idea?
I've always stayed in Venice and found simple and reasonable accommodations at the Rick-recommended Fondazione Levi. It's near the Accademia Bridge and easy to find with his directions. Venice is a different place at night when the hordes of tourists aren't around. They might still have rooms available for October and respond very quickly to e-mail inquiries.
I thought about staying on the mainland, too, but like Jeff said, I'm really looking forward to staying in Venice because I can't wait to enjoy what it is like at night and also early in the morning before the tourists arrive. I found a little hotel (5-6 rooms) right around the corner from Piazza San Marco called Ca Dei Dogi - it has almost unanimously positive reviews at tripadvisor and I'm paying 360 euros total for 4 nights in late August/early September - can't beat it. The place has a patio on the top floor and is apparently magical at night and I can't wait to experience it. I'm sure staying outside Venice might be a bit cheaper and maybe a little quieter, but you have to decide what you want. I have a friend who is actually a teenage girl, she went with her dad to venice not long ago and they stayed in Mestre - she told me she loved Venice so much and that it's her favorite city in the world (and she's been everywhere), and how wished she had stayed in venice itself.
Even if you spent a few extra dollars, I'd spend the extra money to stay IN Venice. It is a magical, wonderful place -- except between noon and 4 p.m. The quiet night time and early morning Venice is wonderful and enchanting. We'd leave during the middle of the day and go to Lido or other places -- then return back to Venice once the crowds had abated. We did our Venice touring during the AM before the crowds got big. If you really need to watch pennies, there are also a couple of convents in Venice that book rooms. We have a quad in June for about 110E -- am traveling with hubby and two kids.
I have to agree with all the above posters. Stay in Venice and enjoy the early mornings and evenings. By taking a train in and out during the day, you will experience it like all the day-tripping hordes from the cruise ships. This is better than not seeing Venice at all, but being there in the evening is wonderful, you will not regret it. It is worth the extra cost to experience this place in a more "normal" way. I stayed at the hotel Belle Arti (on the Rick S. Venice tour a couple of years ago) It has a great location. Easy walk to all major sites. It's a fun boat ride from the airport across the lagoon to a dock real near the hotel. They are not super cheap, but check it out. They have a website.
We stayed for 4 nights in Venice in a large quad room at Corte Compana (in Rick's book), which had great rates. Riccardo was very friendly and helpful. Also, it was in a wonderful location near San Marco (well lit, lots of people out and about) where we could let our teeneage daughters walk sround safely after dark. Venice is so magical after dark! It was truely a worthwhile experience, being there in the evenings. My teenagers absolutely loved it.
Thanks for all the wonderful advise. Looks like we'll be staying in Venice!
Try pensione la calcina.....This charming small boutique hotel is located away from all the noise on the main canals...but is on the water and our room opened to the water.....and each morning we would awake to cruise ships coming in to venice. They are so helpful.......great little cafe under the hotel on the water....Easy access to transportation, although we walked everywhere....They have one room with chairs on a balcony...that would be a great room .We had a corner room with windows on the side adn in front....had the windows open all nite.......slept great! Marilee