Hostels in Venice

A room in the Hostel L'Imbarcadero, Venice
Stylish L'Imbarcadero hostel lies just steps off the Grand Canal in Venice's quiet, residential Santa Croce neighborhood.

Hostels and other cheap digs in Venice, Italy

If you're really scrimping on every eurocent, or are particularly fond of fraternizing with primarily youthful backpackers, you might want to stay in hostels, where you can get a bunk in a shared dorm for around €17 to €70.

I must admit, I am not a fan of hostels. I never did like them, really—not even when I was a backpacking student. But that's just me.

You, on the other hand, might enjoy the camaraderie, the chance to rub elbows with other English-speakers, the evenings of contributing an ingredient to the communal spaghetti dinner someone is whipping up in the kitchen while your laundry spins in the back room, a dreadlocked dropout strums a guitar, and everyone sits around and shares travel tips and recently discovered gems not yet in the guidebooks.

A silk sleep sack for staying i hostels and making rough, cheap sheets more comfortable
Buy a sleep sack before you go or make one. Hostels will accept homemade ones out of a basic cotton top sheet (fold it in half the long way, sew across the bottom and 2/3 of the way up the side), as well as the kind I use: the silk sleep sack you can get from some travel and camping outfitters that packs teensy and is dreamily comfortable.
Oh, and the savings (though in Venice, even hostels are overpriced; I mean come on: €70 for a dorm bed?). That's the upside to the hostelling experience.

The downsides, though, are enough to keep me away, despite the savings.

Though some private hostels have done away with most of the old rules, some (especially official HI hostels) still impose evening curfews (10pm-midnight or so), midday lockout periods, and limits on how long you can stay (often no more than three days).

Speaking of which: Avoid the official HI hostel in Venice—which, inexplicably, has now been taken over the trendy Generator chain. That means it is no longer as bland and institutional as it once was (at least not since they "Generator-ized" it in June 2013)—which is a huge plus. However, it is still located on Giudecca—that big, long island south of Dordosuro, a tomb-quiet area of Venice with bascially one sight, precious few restaurants, and which you can only reach by boat.

Finding Hostels in Venice

PartnerHostelWorld ( - This hostel specialsts also lists Venice B&Bs, cheap hotels, apartments, and campgrounds. ( - Some 17,000 hostels in 2,500 destinations, including all dozen or so in Venice. ( A newer hostel site focused on using social media to suss out the best hostel and cheap stays—and no booking fees. ( - An aggregator searching multiple hostel-booking websites at once. ( - Yes, the mighty hotel booking engine also lists a baker's dozen of hostels in Venice alongside B&Bs, hotels, apartments, and other options.

Tips & links

Hosteling tips
  • Private hotels are usually far superior to HI hostels—better locations, nicer decor, smaller rooms (often only 4-8 beds per room), more private baths, far fewer rules, and better perks (like free WiFi, often free breakfast).
  • There are lockers for your bags; use them.
  • Bring a sleep sack—sometimes called a sleeping bag liner—which is basically a sheet folded in half lengthwise and sewn across the bottom and most of the way up the side—sort of like an ultra-thin sleeping bag. These are required at most hostels. Should you lack one, some hostels will sell you a sleep sack on the spot.
  • Hostels are a savings for singles, but since you pay a per-person rate, two or three people traveling together can usually find a hotel for the same price or even less.
  • Families can often find hostels with 4-bunk rooms for semi-private housing.
  • Meals will be cheap (if offered), but lackluster.
Lodging links
Lodging tips
  • If you're looking for a hotel near a particular sight, just go to that sight's page and, in the sidebar on the right, you'll see a list of all the nearby hotels (with "Reid Recommends" choices preceded by a little RR icon: Reid Recommends).
  • The Venice hotel tax: As of 2011, Venice began charging a Visitor Tax. This is the city's doing, and it is not a scam (just annoying). All charges are per person, per night, for all guests over the age of 10, and the tax is charged for stays of up to 10 days. (There are discounts: Dec-Jan, 30%; Kids aged 10-16, 50%; Stays on the Lido or other outer islands, 20%; Stays in Mestre or elsewhere on the mainland, 20%.)

    The cost breakdown is insanely complicated (varies with official clasification and rating cateogry), but general as of 2014:

    • Hotels: €1 pppn (per person per night) per star rating. (So a couple [2 people] staying three nights [2 x 3 = 6] in a four-star hotel [6 x €4 = €24] would pay an extra €24.
    • B&Bs: €3 pppn flat
    • Apartments, residences, rental rooms: €1.50–€2.50 pppn
    • Hostels/religious housing and agriturismi: €2 pppn
    • Camping: €0.10–€0.40 pppn

    Some hotels have folded the fee into their quoted rates; most properties tack it on as an extra when you check out. Just be prepared.

  • Book ahead in summer and during Carnevale: Venice is way more popular than the number of beds it has, so while in the dead of winter you can often show up and find a good place to crash easily, the best rooms (and the best-value hotels) are booked well in advance for the summer months and the two weeks prior to Ash Wednesday (when Venice breaks out the fancy dress and masks for its famed Carnevale celebrations).

    Same goes (though less so, and more at the chic and high end hotels) during the Venice Biennale art festival and the Venice Film Festival.
  • Pay extra for A/C in summer: No matter what kind of lodging you pick, if it's summer (a) try to get a room with air-conditioning and (b) even if you can't (or you can but have a hankering for some fresh air) resist the urge to open the windows to your room.

    Venice is, I believe, the primary breeding ground for the mosquito population of Southern Europe, and precious few Italian hoteliers have discovered that newfangled invention called window screens. Keep the windows shut, or prepare to be bitten.

    (Also, carry some bug spray for those romantic canalside dinners outside. Trust me.)
  • Avoid Mestre: Any hotels with an address in "Venezia-Mestre" is actually in the dull, modern, industrial suburb at the mainland end of the bridge over to the real, ancient Venice you came all this way to see. Do not stay in Mestre! You'll spend more time and money commuting each day in an out of Venice proper than you will save.
Other Venice links & resources

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