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My good friend, Katy, has a three year old daughter (featured here), and their family loves traveling the world as much as mine. Since (sadly) I can’t visit every location or hotel, she is going to share some of her experience traveling using miles and points at some locations I haven’t yet had the chance to visit. Here is her post about a recent stay at the Hilton Molino Stucky in Venice.
Hotel rooms in Venice are pretty pricey, and it had been seven years since my last visit, so I was at first in a state of shock when I saw the prices for some hotels. Luckily, I had plenty of hotel points stashed from credit card sign-ups, everyday spending, and points earned on previous travel, so we made the easy decision to use points for our room.
Our trip was in May when it wasn’t prime tourist season, but it was getting pretty close. When possibl,e I really recommend going to destinations during the “shoulder season” (right before or after peak season) to avoid some of the crowds and peak prices. Though honestly, with my husband in the military, we kind of have to go when we can go. While this may not apply to many professions, our first problem we always run into is that we have limited countries we can go to due to his security clearance. Plus I know that many can relate to having trouble finding the time to be away from his responsibilities for long periods of time. We find ourselves being less picky about finding the best time/season, the best awards, the small perks, and instead are determined to just get the green light to go to a foreign country and have fun exploring!
I can honestly say I have booked this trip three times before it actually happened. The first three attempts were while my husband was in a deployable squadron (he is an F/18 pilot) so every time I went to finalize everything a detachment or a deployment shattered the plans. The plus side to all those years of cancellations were the points and miles I continued to rack up. This trip allowed us to travel in United First using miles. We used credit card sign ups and earned bonuses like Hyatt’s two free nights, and obtained confirmed Diamond suite upgrades for our stay in a suite at the Park Hyatt Zurich. We used Hilton’s credit card sign-up bonuses and points earned to book our room at Molino Stucky. We also used our Starwood credit card sign-up bonus and annual spend on the SPG card for a suite at The Gritti Palace. Doing all this only leaves a small tiny dent in our points and miles cache! On the other hand, the tons of food we devoured on our trip cost us our daughter’s college savings fund!
As for the hotels, we were not too concerned on being in a certain area of Venice, as long we were not too far out. We wanted to stay within a 20-30 minute walking distance to San Marco, or a five to ten minute boat ride to the city. We were going for three nights and we chose to explore two different hotels during that time (I will follow this review with the SPG Gritti Palace review, at a later date).
The first two days we stayed at the Hilton Molino Stucky. This hotel used to be an old mill that was renovated and is located on an island next to the mainland of Venice.
We used 50,000 points per night for a standard room (post HHonors devaluation, this property now varies from 50k – 70k points per night, depending on the month of the year) . It made me cringe a little to use 100,000 points on only two nights, but it was better than the $600 average cost of the room, and they are just HHonors points. The property is considered extremely large for hotels in this area, so there were more crowds than there would be in the more boutique hotels located on the streets of Venice. Check-in took about 20 minutes as there appeared to be a large group checking in at the same time as we were.
I did a status match to Hilton Gold using my Hyatt Diamond status a few weeks before I left for this trip. I had a lot of trips using Hilton coming up, so it was convenient timing to go for the match. I only had silver status before via my Hilton Amex, but they gave me Gold and then offered to put me on the fast track (earn 21 nights in 90 days) to Diamond status. If I had the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, that would also give me Hilton Gold status without having to status match.
Due to my Gold status, they upgraded us from a standard room to a suite. The suite contained a living room, small kitchen area, bedroom and bathroom with shower and bathtub. There was plenty of room for two. It was more than we expected which was a really great surprise.
Rooms are smaller in Venice (and Europe in general), so getting an upgrade to a suite is great. There was even a bellini waiting for us in the room! The other “perks” we received upon check-in were free internet for the first 24 hours, 20% off a spa treatment, free drinks at the rooftop bar, extra Hilton points (on top of the ongoing Hilton promotions I had signed up for) and access to the executive lounge.
After the internet was no longer free we chose to pay the 12 euros to keep using it. We had our three year old back home staying with her grandparents so I would have paid a lot more to see her sweet face through Skype! Another thing to point out are that the hotel elevators are tiny. Luckily, my husband and I managed to only bring two carry-on sized luggage pieces so having so little room was never an issue for us, but it might be for a larger family with more luggage.
The lounge is on the first floor behind a glass enclosure and has window seats that offer a beautiful view of the water and Venice.
We chose to take our free breakfast in the lounge instead of the restaurant. There were scrambled eggs, bacon, breads (croissants, rolls and toast), deli meats, chocolate cake, sausage, etc. There were also cereals to chose from such as corn flakes, Rice Krispees, and granola. I highly recommend the granola with the raisins and dried banana flakes. The food was honestly nothing amazing, but when you are spending so much on food for the other meals of the day, a free breakfast is still a free breakfast.
The highlight of breakfast was perhaps seeing a man come down to eat in his robe….
The “happy hour” in the executive lounge offered complimentary appetizers and cocktails from 5-11pm. We liked trying the various amuse-bouches that are offered in lounges. Some examples include gazpacho with a tiny bagel chip, bacon and pepper bites, corn and asparagus slaw and more. We are used to the US clubs that typically charge for drinks, so a free happy hour was pretty exciting.
The Hilton has a rooftop bar and restaurant with a beautiful view of the city. It was raining when we went up, but there is a rooftop pool that looks like it has gorgeous views during the day. Lunch is served out there when it is open so you can enjoy the sun and the view while eating.
The rooftop bar is just one of the restaurants and lounges at the hotel. There is the main restaurant on the first floor and another lobby lounge serves cocktails and cafe at the front of the hotel. It is located right next to the executive lounge and is quite large and open.
Since my husband and I get lazy from time to time on vacation and are room service gluttons, we gave it a shot at this hotel. Unfortunately, room service was a huge let-down. It started off great with a delicious caprese salad, but our main courses were dry and bland. Potatoes were harder than they should be and the salmon and veal were dry and hard to chew. Pretty disappointing, but we were tired and did not want to venture out at that point.
The other glitch was that our room service was pretty late. They were busy when we called, so we were put through to guest services who took our order and said she would then give it to the room service crew. Turns out that did happen, but no room number was provided. We had to call and order again then wait an hour and a half, but eventually our food came. They comped our drinks, and I don’t really think that was sufficient, but we were so tired that complaining seemed too exhausting. We also think you have to pick your battles with hotels, and we were just given an upgrade, so we thought it was not important to complain at that point.
The Hilton Molino Stucky Venice offers a complimentary round trip shuttle boat service to St. Marks Square (San Zaccaria) and to the Zattere stop. The ride itself is really short so it does not cut into your sightseeing time. The boat runs at regular and frequent intervals for hotel guests only, and can not be reserved. We found it was very simple to catch the shuttle when we needed it. It ran like clockwork and was never too full to use, but it may be different during the peak tourist season. The shuttle is located right as you walk out the front door to the hotel.
The shuttle drops off and picks up on the hour, and then again at thirty, then fifty minutes after. While staying in the city is definitely more convenient, don’t let the fact that the Hilton is off the mainland deter you from taking advantage of using your Hilton points while in Venice!
Thanks to my friend, Katy, for sharing her experience at the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice – I hope to visit Venice myself at some point! If you have any questions about that hotel, she will be happy to address them in the comments section.
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