Review: Why the JW Marriott resort in Venice continues to frustrate me, and why we return (Part 2)

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This is the second part of my review of the JW Marriott hotel in Venice.  

Part 1, which covers the location, rooms, kids club and pool, can be found here.

JW Marriott Venice review

Up on the roof

The JW Marriott Venice roof terrace in the main building is the most successful part of the hotel.   But, yet again, they score an own goal.

On the roof is a pool with great views towards Venice.  You can see how deep it is here:

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice rooftop pool

After May, at which point the hotel believes that the main pool is warm enough for kids, children are banned from this pool.  Yes, kids are banned from a pool that is about 2 feet deep and are forced into the ‘family’ pool which is about 5 feet deep.

There used to a restaurant and bar on the roof.  The wasp invasion has basically forced them to abandon this now.  A new bar has been built inside the restaurant and everyone now eats inside.

I have to say that the meal we had here was the most accomplished I had in over two weeks in Italy.  But … come on …. the hotels adds an €8 per person ‘cover charge’ to your bill and doesn’t even provide any bread.

And, when your bill comes, you are asked to tick a box for an extra tip (service is included) with the options running to 18% …..

Everything else …..

There is a lot to see on the island and, to be fair, we didn’t experience it all because of the children.

Here is the lobby bar.  Again, I was very impressed by the design:

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice lobby

Dispensa is the hotel cafe.  Here is one improvement over previous years.  Dispensa used to open very late to effectively force you to pay for the €35 hotel restaurant breakfast.  It now opens at 6.30am so if you can survive on a coffee and a pastry then you can make a decent saving here.

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice Dispensa cafe

Breakfast in the restaurant is OK although it is certainly not outstanding.  It is what you’d expect from a four star hotel.

Yet again, they manage to annoy you.  Once you have sat down, a member of staff comes along and places a card and pencil on your table.  The card says “Room number: [filled in for you]” and underneath “Tip: [left blank for you to fill in]”.  I mean ….

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice breakfast

I popped into the JW Marriott Venice spa briefly.  It is classy but expensive and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the best option in the city.  It has a small indoor and outdoor plunge pool which looks good.  Entrance is €35.

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice spa

This is the garden of one of the suites in the cottages in the grounds:

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice

There is a fine dining restaurant in the grounds which has a Michelin star, although we have never managed to eat there:

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice fine dining

The JW Marriott Venice hotel shuttle boat runs every 30 minutes without a break until after midnight.  I had a look at the timetables for the Kempinski and the Excelsior hotels and they run a worse schedule.  The boats have a capacity of around 35 but were never full.  We went to the opera one evening and were grateful for the late finishing time.

JW Marriott resort hotel Venice shuttle boat


Venice is a great place to come in August.  You don’t need to spend much time in the centre with the cruise ship crowds.  You can happily pass your days at the JW Marriott or take a taxi across to the Lido where the beach is impressive, and then pop into the city for a couple of hours in the early evening when it quietens down.

There are a lot of things about the JW Marriott Venice I like.  The design and furnishings are very well done – this is probably the thing that swings it for me.  The grounds are large and well tendered.  The rooftop bar and restaurant is cool.  The spa looks great and there is a fine dining option.  The Junior Suites work really well, either for a couple or for a family with two children.  The shuttle service to St Marks was always punctual.  Breakfast isn’t bad.

It just falls down around the edges.  Spurious extra charges.  Demands for ludicrous tips.  €11 for a can of coke by the pool.  The wasp infestation.  The lack of upgrades for status members.  €118 to rent a bike for 10 minutes.  €8 restaurant cover charges which don’t even get you any bread.

For 40,000 Marriott Rewards points (now 50,000 points, and to be 60,000 points on peak nights from 2019) plus €200 per night for a €500+ junior suite, the JW Marriott in Venice was a very good deal.  I doubt I would come back and pay full price – I would like to try the Cipriani or Kempinski, and the Excelsior on the Lido should be good when refurbished – but it is a good points option.

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

PS. We had lunch on the Grand Canal-side terrace at Marriott’s Gritti Palace one day.  I do recommend this.  It gives you an excuse to have a poke around the astonishing interior of the Gritti and, on a sunny day with the hotel’s Riva speedboat parked up next to your table, it is a lovely place to eat.  It clearly isn’t cheap but the food is not too fancy and you are a world away from the crowds.

(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.)

Review: Why the JW Marriott resort in Venice continues to frustrate me, and why we return (Part 1)
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  1. £10 for a coke???? , reminds me of the old harry Enfield character, I saw you coming.

    • How much do you think a coke at the IC Park Lane is?

      • What was amusing about the coke is that the staff were desperate to make it worth the money. They would prefer to come over to your lounger, return with a drinks menu after you’ve requested one, take your order, bring it back on a nice tray in a smart glass with ice and lemon. I just walked up the bar and said ‘give me a can of coke please’ and they were all ‘let us give you a glass’ (no), ‘let us give you ice and lemon’ (no), ‘let me carry the can over to your sun lounger for you’ (nah, I can manage!). They do feel guilty charging you €11 just for pulling a can out of the fridge and handing it over.

      • A coke is £4.50 in the Arch bar at the IC Park Lane…. you also get a glass with some ice in it as well!

  2. For all the negative comments, just remember – the holiday you’re making for yourself. The hotel gives you the space to do it in.

    If you have children in particular the most import aspects are that the hotel’s set out to accomodate them and that you can relax.

    Rob’s points are all utterly valid above, they’d annoy the hell out of me, but there are hotels in the UK I still consider a second home despite their shortcomings. (How many nights have I spent in the Jekyll&Hyde Hilton in Brighton over the years?) and the day that the feeling of being able to relax in the hotel and feel comfortable diminishes will be the moment I expect Rob would stop forgiving this place its shortcomings.

    I wouldn’t be able to forgive the nick&diming – which rules out Venice outright, not just this property – but then I know there are people who hate the rooms in the Brighton Metropole which I’m entirely happy to tolerate for the positives I get out of the hotel and I wouldn’t even consider staying elsewhere.

  3. Michael Jennings says:

    >There is a fine dining restaurant in the grounds which has a Michelin star, although
    >we have never managed to eat there:

    Is this because you can’t get a reservation? If so, that’s another demerit for the hotel. One thing I do expect is for hotel guests to be able to get a table at the hotel restaurants, no matter how many Michelin stars it has or however up himself the chef is.

    • Rob has mentioned it and I could be wrong but being a father of young kids…I imagine they are one of the main reasons not to head to the Michelin star restaurant. Fine dining and kids tend to be very unhappy bed fellows….

  4. Please don’t be put off Venice itself – as to my mind it is a city for enjoying out of peak season (even at 2/3/4* level) – especially walking the same bridges and squares the Venetians did in the 16thC. Do a few tourist things and expect to be ripped off (but less than at a 5* hotel?), but also enjoy the out of the way places, small cafes, quiet churches and small islands that make it magical.

  5. I’d like to visit Venice but would probably do it in the winter months. I see they are moving to the American model of tipping – I noticed this summer that they’ve now started calculating it for you on your bill! I don’t mind tipping in America because the food is plentiful and reasonably priced; when we move onto GCM however, eating out is very expensive, a 15% service charge is automatically included and they still have a space for you to add a tip! Also, they sneakily charge in Cayman dollars which are worth more than the US $ (if you’re British, you just have to remember that a Cayman dollar is worth 95p – £1 depending on the exchange rate).

  6. Sounds like the hotel is the biggest wasp of the lot.

  7. I think the last vestige of anything nice about Venice disappeared sometime in the 90s. I’m just so glad I did it all back then?

    You went to the opera? I thought La Fenice went on holiday in the summer. Maybe it was a guest show.

    • No, it reopens in the last week of August. We missed it last year because we were a week earlier and they were shut.

      There is a lot to like about Venice if you avoid the core central area. The lido is basically the emptiest Italian beach resort I know, you can go the opera, you can stay and visit some exquisite hotels, you have the Peggy Guggenheim museum, Murano / Burano, Ca’Rezzonico (which I didn’t know about until this year) ….

  8. John Sharples says:

    Got to say that like Rob I always enjoyed Venice with family when the kids were younger. Stayed on the Lido at Des Baines (Death in Venice and now an apartment development project) and the Excelsior. Both used to be Starwood (SPG) properties. Also stayed at The Hilton Giudecca when it first opened. The 12 Euro coke was a common feature to them all, but you could also pop (excuse the pun) outside and pick up vital supplies at nearby convenience stores around the corner from all of them. The lido was a beach holiday from the Nineteen Twenties (sans prices!) and it was great to spend a day in a cabana and then as the temperatures cooled down, take the free boat shuttles to St Marks square. August was a great time in Venice. I would recommend the Lido and there are still some (only mildly eye watering) deals to be found at the Excelsior which include the excellent breakfast with prosecco. A good swimming pool and a long sandy beach with gently sloping shores.

    • I stayed at the Gritti about 15 years ago when Westin ran the Excelsior. They had a private speedboat (still branded Ciga I remember) which shuttled guests, for free, between the Gritti, Danieli and Excelsior. Now that was fun, shuttling around the lagoon in that boat.

  9. Appreciate no kids club but when I was last in Venice (during a conference, so hotel rates even more extortionate than usual!) I had a fabulous Airbnb apartment – 5 min walk from St Mark’s and supermarket only a 10 min walk away.

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