My review of the new JW Marriott resort, Venice (Part 1)

This is my review of the JW Marriott hotel and resort in Venice.  Part 1 runs today and the second part runs tomorrow.

This was the second year that we have ended up in this hotel over the August Bank Holiday. I was planning to review it last year but never got round to it, and the hotel managed to annoy us so I wasn’t filled with enthusiasm.  But we still went back ….

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice

The JW Marriott in Venice opened last year.  It is on a private island and requires you to take a boat to and from St Marks Square.

It is bit further into the lagoon than the Cipriani and next door to the island hosting the Kempinski, previously the St Regis. The fact that St Regis threw in the towel after just one year tells you how hard it is to make money here – the long crossing from the mainland makes it an unappealing place to stay during winter storms.

From the airport you are looking at €120 each way for a water taxi unless you take the boat to St Marks Square and then get the free hotel boat across.  However, my 5-year old boy and I think that Venice water taxis – especially when speeding across the lagoon at full throttle – are the coolest thing in the world and we consider it €120 well spent!

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice

This is a hugely frustrating hotel.  Frustrating, because if anyone except Marriott was running it you feel it could be exceptional.  As it is, it swerves from great to average – overall it was better this year than last year, but they have probably reached the limits of what can be fixed without major capex.

Let me explain why we returned.  With kids, the mainland hotels (when I write ‘mainland’ I mean the main island) are not ideal – rooms are generally small and you won’t find a pool or outside space, let alone a kids club.  Hotels on their own islands (Cipriani, Kempinski – ex St Regis – and JW Marriott, plus the Excelsior on the Lido which has just been bought by the Chewton Glen owners) have a lot more to offer.

Venice is also not cheap, especially in August.  The weather is also so hot that a private island is more attractive than the city centre.  I may not find Marriott Rewards very exciting, but one feature I do respect is the ability to ‘buy up’ to better rooms for a nominal sum.

We paid €110 plus 35,000 Marriott points per night for a Junior Suite which was selling for over €500.  The suite took two rollaway beds for the kids and still had plenty of space for a sofa etc.

I’m getting ahead of myself, however.


This time we arrived in Venice by train as we came from the hugely impressive Cavallino Bianco family hotel in the Dolomites.  You can get a water taxi outside the station – I think we paid €80 (there is a published price list).  You can’t fail to be impressed by your arrival as you pull into the private dock:

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice arrival

The check-in staff, who were appallingly bad last year, are much improved.  Don’t expect to be walked to your suite though.

If you have Marriott Rewards status, you should note that Marriott class this as a resort property and so many of your benefits, including free breakfast, do NOT apply.

Our room

There are rooms scattered across the island.  The rooms in the outbuildings are more expensive and have private gardens or pool.  You are never more than two minutes walk from the hotel so don’t worry about being isolated if you book one of those.  We stuck to the main building.

Last year we took a Studio Suite.  This was bigger and cheaper than a Junior Suite and we realised why when we arrived – the view was a fire escape and the room layout was impractical.

This year we took a smaller, square, Junior Suite and it worked really well.  Even if there are only two of you travelling I would recommend taking one of these.

At one end of the suite is the bed.  The TV console is in the middle and, behind that, you have a sofa and table.  The two rollaway beds for the children – for which we were not charged a supplement, unlike last year – were by the window.

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice junior suite

The TV set spins around so you can watch it from the sofa or bed.  The channel choice is pretty poor, however.

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice junior suite

The bathroom was very large, clean and modern:

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice bathroom


JW Marriott resort hotel Venice bathroom

The room had a large balcony overlooking the grounds as well.

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice balcony

I can’t knock it.  This was a very impressive room.

This is the view of our room from outside:

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice exterior

Kids club

The JW Marriott Venice now has a permanent kids club although there is no outdoor space, despite having a whole island at their disposal.  It is charged at €25 per child per day, unless you pay the voluntary €39 per day ‘resort fee’.  With two kids it is cheaper to pay the resort fee, except for the fact that you need to pay the fee for every day of your stay – you can’t pick and choose.

In Part 2 of my JW Marriott Venice review tomorrow, I will give you a tour of the rest of the island including the spa, restaurant and shuttle boat.

The official hotel website is here if you want to find out more.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

10,000 Avios points or €200 for 4 x 2-night Accor stays, however cheap!
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  1. I am reading this in bed in the Hilton Stucky Molino on our last day in Venice. This is on Giudecca so half way between the city where we stayed on previous visits and a private island.
    I agree about the James Bond’ type water taxis: on our first visit in 1988 one was included in the package. We were going to use one to get to the airport today, but the Alilugana airport bus stops at the front door so we will use that for EUR30 instead being pensioners.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      We stayed here recently and thought the hotel was excellent. The bars opposite are also reasonably priced (almost impossible to find such in Venice) and we loved the view across the water back to the hotel at night. The roof top pool is excellent and we never had a problem getting a sun lounger. Similarly we never got bored of the view from the aforementioned. Simply stunning. My only complaint was the breakfast which was very average. If returning to Venice this hotel would be my first choice.

      Oh, and the public water bus is only 4 stops from the overland airport express buses which are quick, cheap, and comfortable (air com wifi etc). The water bus takes an age to get to the airport. But if you have the time it is a nice way to travel.

      • I liked breakfast! I do think, if you go as a couple without kids, the negatives generally disappear.

        • Mr(s) Entitled says:

          My comment was in reply to the Hilton post and was meant in reference to that hotel.

          • Sorry! I see all the comments lumped into one without knowing what they are responding to!

          • If you think that breakfast was average I would love to eat one you think good!
            I have never seen a whole frame from a hive supplied for honey before for instance.
            Did you perhaps eat in the executive lounge?

            • Mr(s) Entitled says:

              Agree with the honey (although I don’t eat it). The eggs, unless ordered fresh, we’re shocking. Inch thick slabs of yellow. I like my eggs from a chicken not a carton.

              If you want to see what I consider a good breakfast then try out the Hilton Maldives.

              But as before, breakfast aside, I really liked the hotel.

      • Hi off to Hilton next June any hints and tips much appreciated! Having spent 170k of my precious Hilton points!!

        • Get the Blue Alilugana boat which stops at the front door;
          get gold status or pay for breakfast (not in lounge) unless you want bacon and egg;
          the boat only goes to Zattere after about 6pm;
          eat at Bacaromi rather than Aromi; Aromi is fancier and much more expensive (going for Michelin star). Bacaromi is traditional and cheaper although not cheap. It seems expensive but there are plenty of places same price and nowhere near as good.

  2. Not the biggest bath I’ve ever seen 😉

    • Might be the deepest! Never used it anyway :-)

      • If you want a deep bath go to Poets House (they could not decide where to put the apostrophe). They have enormous copper baths which take 20 minutes to fill, but you call the butler to do it.
        This was a few years ago and it has changed hands so may been uneconomic.

  3. FIRSTclstraveller says:

    Does every suite come with a lovely lady on the balcony?!

  4. When I was there in July local police were conducting speed checks on the canal. Apparently if they are caught speeding they are not fined but the individual concerned will lose their licence for several weeks – that would certainly cause some serious financial hardship.

  5. My choice for Venice hotels from now on would be the La Gare Venezia(Mgallery) on Murano island.

    They offer a free transfer service from the airport to the hotel via a speedboat. You will most likely have to share and it only runs at scheduled times, but you save EUR 240 for a return transfer, so it’s worth it.

    There is also a free transfer boat to Venice (not sure where it stops, though), which also needs to be booked ahead, but the Vaporetto (water bus) stop is also right outside of the hotel.

    Murano is much quieter than Venice, especially in the evenings, which was actually very nice after the hustle and bustle of ‘mainland’ Venice. Not a massive choice of restaurants, though…

    Because it’s on Murano, the prices are far more reasonable, especially considering that you get a modern room and a nice breakfast (think we paid extra for that, though). They also had Sky, I think, so finding something to watch was not an issue and there was a feature on the TV remote to change the language of the program to English (probably only works for anything that was originally in English anyway, e.g. majority of movies).