On The Traveling Professor small group tours to Italy, we stay in 3 terrific hotels. In general our selection criteria for hotels are as follows:
Location: A well-located hotel is easy to get to from the airport or other transportation hub. It also well-located in terms of getting to the attractions you want to see in Rome, Florence or Venice. Being near restaurants is also a factor. A couple of things that raise "red flags" when we look at hotels is that we like to avoid noisy areas like hotels that are next to or close to pubs or night clubs.
Price: The Traveling Professor never looks for "cheap" hotels, but we do look for good value. For instance, we may select a hotel that is a bit more expensive, but because of its advantageious location in terms of transportation, we may save a significant amount of expense for water taxis (in Florence), it becomes, in the end, more economical than a less expensive hotel.
Family Owned: The Traveling Professor very much prefers family-owned hotels. We find service is much more personal, attentive, and flexible should special situations arise. For instance, we have long-standing business relationships in all of our Italy hotels that preferential treatment is given to our clients. So, if they arrive early before the usual check-in time, Traveling Professor clients are given early check-in preference for when rooms are ready. That type of service is rarer in corporate hotels.
Clean, Comfortable and Quiet: This goes almost without saying. Guests need to get a good night's sleep each and every night.
Other Factors: The Traveling Professor likes hotels that impart charm and a bit of authenticity on his small group tours to Italy. The style and Italian grace of each hotel is a factor. A small gathering room in a lobby decorated in Italian style can be a factor. Instead of cookie-cutter hotels we may select an older hotel that truly makes the traveler feel they are indeed staying in Italy.
Here are The Traveling Professor picks for the best hotels in Rome, Florence and Venice:
Rome: Bettoja Hotel Massimo D'Azeglio. The Traveling Professor has being staying here on his small group tours to Rome for years. Located within steps of the Termini train, stations it is easily and inexpensively reachable from the airport and other cities in Italy. The location next to the bus depot and two metro lines give easy access to EVERY location in Rome, near and far. If you have ever tried to get on a bus in Rome, you know they are crowded and stuffy. But if alighting at the first stop like you will be doing at the Termini station, busses are uncrowded and you are almost guaranteed a seat. The Massimo D'Azeglio checks all the boxes in terms of family owned, a wonderful lobby and bar, authenticity, great service, and exceptional value for such an elegant hotel. It is near some of our favorite Rome restaurants and as a bonus, has a wonderful restaurant itself. The Professor looks forward to the breakfasts served every morning. As a bonus, guests are welcome at sister Bettoja Hotels in Rome to access their facilities including rooftop gardens. The Professor loves the Massimo D'Azeglio!
Florence: For many years The Traveling Professor has been leading his small group tours to Florence and we are always welcomed warmly by our friend Antonella at the Hotel Il Guelfo Bianco, in the most perfect of locations in Florence. For instance, Michelangelo's David, would say that it is only a stone's throw away from the Accademia Gallery. The Duomo is a short walk. We never need a taxi or even a bus to get to every location we want to go in Florence. Despite being so well located, the hotel is quiet. It's beautiful decoration and spacious rooms make the traveler feel right at home. It is a quality hotel, small enough for all of us to feel special, at a very reasonable price. Of all the hotels The Traveling Professor uses on all of his trips, this is one of his favorites. Stay at the Il Guelfo Bianco when in Florence.
Venice: This unique city should be visited by every traveler and every traveler should stay at the graceful 4-star American Dinesen Hotel. There is nothing easier than cruising up to the hotel in a water taxi to be greeted by a waiting and attentive staff. It puts the traveler in "relax" mode right away. The hotel does a perfect job of melding Venetian elegance with all the modern amenities one could desire. It is located away from the touristy crowds in the sophisticated Dorsoduro section of Venice, but manages to be a close walk to all of the best attractions. The Professor loves the nearby Peggy Guggenheim collection, the excellent authentic restaurants, the beautiful views, and serenity and feel of exclusiveness of the area. The staff at the hotel does their very best to make a stay at the American Dinesen pleasant and easy. Hotels in Venice can be on the expensive side, but when considering all the conveniences that the American Dinesen has to offer, it is considered to be a good value. Traveling Professor guests constantly remind us how much they enjoy their stay at this hotel.