Locanda Orseolo, Venice

Hotel View from the lounge at this Venetian Family Hotel Locanda Orseolo is a small quaint family-owned hotel with rooms overlooking a small canal just off Piazza San Marco and very close to the high end/designer fashion shopping. The entrance is through a large but secluded gated courtyard which is handy for kids to have a bit of space. From our arrival, we were treated like great friends. Every staff member introduced themselves and learnt the names of everyone in our family, which they used throughout the stay.
The breakfast room and lounge areas have little picture windows from floor to waist height, allowing guests a hassle free and novel back entrance into the hotel from the canals water taxis. The children sat amused literally for hours in the window watching the gondolas meandering past and were delighted to wave and chat to the gondoliers and their passengers as they passed by. Meanwhile, the adults were free to enjoy a quiet long sumptuous breakfast or a quiet drink. Watching the gondoliers skilfully weave gracefully past several boats without touching is an extremely addictive and relaxing pastime, almost like a meditation. This hotel however, and Venice in general, is not necessarily a relaxing experience for families with young children- the amount of readily accessible waterways and steps over the countless bridges presents considerable challenges.
The rooms are reasonably spacious (by Italian standards) and impeccably clean. We had a modest suite style room allowing us to sleep the children separate from the adults. Everything worked well, including the air-conditioning which was a Godsend during summer, keeping the room cool while it was very warm outside. One thing to note: although there are no prices listed on the minibar, we were charged a little more than expected for the soft drinks we consumed.

The staff were excellent and could not have been more helpful booking the best restaurants in town, pointing us to the best boutiques, arranging baby-sitting and locating places we wanted to visit. Our hasty departure via water taxi en route to the overnight train from Venice to Paris was very memorable with Alex waving us off through the canal window until we were out of sight. We will return and when we do, we know we will be greeted by our friends.