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Review: Why the JW Marriott resort in Venice continues to frustrate, 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 of my JW Marriott Venice review, which covers the location, rooms, kids club and pool, can be found here.

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.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (June 2022)

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American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

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Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

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

Comments (40)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Steve says:

    No offence and a good, honest review but after reading both parts, you seem somewhat of a glutton for punishment going back where you have had previous bad experiences / poor service! I must admit, if I stayed anywhere and had similar experience with a stay, I’d never consider going back, life’s just too short to waste the effort. Each to their own I guess.

    • MarcB says:

      Agreed – I simply can’t understand how they can’t find the wasp nests on the island either… Unless they’re flying in from somewhere else?

    • Talay says:

      I concur. I don’t mind expense but I hate being nickel ‘n’ dimed at every turn.

      Like most things concerned with Venice, the whole set up is aimed at ripping everyone off. Elsewhere, this usually stops at the gates of the 5* hotels and you get sensible, if expensive, options inside. However, €11 for a £0.35 can of coke is beyond taking the Mickey

      €200 for an upgrade but then ….
      €120 for each kid
      €120 for a water tax
      €11 for a coke
      €39 for a kids club

      and staff begging tips when service is already included !!!

      Sorry, I’d simply go somewhere else.

      • Chris Palmer says:

        Unfortunately, it’s not just places like the JW Marriott which are like that in Venice. Try being a Chinese tourist without a good grasp of English or Italian. Many have been totally ripped off on restaurant bills and overinflated prices. Not especially pleasant.

    • Mr dee says:

      Agree seems like you want a better place to go next time

  • JP says:

    Can I just point out that there are excellent properties on the main island – the Aman situated on the Grand Canal is beautiful and has large spacious rooms. Being an Aman it has excellent service.
    I’m afraid I don’t like it when chains attempt to do luxury. A JW Marriott is, when you strip all the slick branding away just a Marriott in the same way that lurking behind every St Regis is a Sheraton. The chains just don’t know how to do luxury properly – even Park Hyatt disappoints through their impersonal service and outsourced housekeeping. There are much better non-chain alternatives out there. Furthermore, I wouldn’t return to a hotel that irked me as much as you seem to be by this one Rob. You must have a much higher tolerance threshold than me!

  • JFSV says:

    I agree with all of the above – I only went to Venice once (last year) and was also badly bitten by mosquitos right while we were waiting at the airport water taxi stand for our water taxi to the MGallery Murano hotel.

    As to Venice itself, a huge tourist trap indeed. The experience might change, of course, if you hang out with locals that know where to go / speak Italian / how to escape the mass tourist places (which are most of them) but that was unfortunately not our case.

  • Crafty says:

    This place looks ludicrously bad. I cannot believe you returned.

  • James says:

    Looks nice on the whole. I’m afraid I’m all for an adults only pool. That said, makes sense to offer something more suitable for families.

  • Russell says:

    Why do you keep going back? There must be so many places you can go with your enormous points haul – why do you keep returning to the same place where you know you’re not going to have a very nice time?

    • Rob says:

      Because there is a lot to like about it. You don’t quit a job because the coffee machine isn’t free, do you?

  • Sussex Bantam says:

    Why do you keep going if it annoys you so much ?!?

    • Rob says:

      Because you can avoid the negatives and it is a very pleasant place, physically.

    • Rob says:

      That’s like saying why not divorced because your wife’s snoring annoys you. It is, physically, a beautiful hotel and very cheap. Options with 2 kids are limited.

      • Mr dee says:

        I you can choose the wife (hotel choice) then maybe you’d choose one that doesn’t snore some nights ha

  • John says:

    Fully agree with the comment on Part 1 about not going to Venice etc in August. I never understand people go away from the UK for the brief period when the weather is actually nice (this year excepted).

    Obviously with school-aged children things change, and I have no idea what we are going to do with holidays when we have kids

    • Rob says:

      Venice is a beach resort, remember – and remarkably quiet since few know this.

    • Simon says:

      You won’t have holidays. You’ll have time away from the office managing small people’s lives. Your holidays will be weekends away while grandparents or similar gluttons for punishment do the childcare.

      Or go to Club Med.

      • Rob says:

        Sounds about right 🙂

        I tell Anika that the fundamental difference between us is that I am happy to get back into the office on a Monday whilst she is happier getting out of it on a Friday!

    • Tony says:

      Rob, I have 3 kids just a shade older than yours. Options are prolific. Sorry to sound unkind but you – of all people – should know where to look.

      • Rob says:

        We are in Venice for a reason though – we always go to Cavillino for a week and there are few ways out of the Dolomites. Taking the train to Venice from Bolzano to fly back from there is actually relatively sensible and we just tack on a few days stay at the same time. We don’t go to Venice from the UK and then fly back.

        Anyway, the Kempinski (ex St Regis) next door emailed this morning to offer us all a free stay, but I doubt we can do it as they want it in the Spring.

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