Luxury bargains: Italy in winter

When I last checked, Rome’s Colosseum and the Sistine chapel in the Vatican had not changed. Up in the north of Italy in this magical, majestic land, Venice's Grand Canal still retained the allure that has enticed travellers down the centuries.

But, like so many other countries, some things have changed in Italy. The recession has known no international borders.

Of course, financial considerations have marginalised some. But for those who are still able to travel, there has probably never been a better time to visit Italy; yes, even in winter.

In Venice, carnival time (this year from 5-16 February), is one of the premium times of the year. The kaleidoscope of colour and intrigue draws visitors from right across the world. To stroll down a quiet, poorly lit Venetian alleyway close to midnight and see a figure wrapped in a black cape, wearing a mask and hat coming towards you provides a unique glimpse of a tradition that dates back centuries.

Yet even for carnival time this year, several of Venice's leading hotels still have rooms available. And even those who could report healthy occupancy rates would almost certainly have had to offer deals to attract business.

I tried two hotels in Venice, one in Rome. By some distance, the Regina Hotel, Rome, one of the elegant Baglioni chain, was the best. Here is the personification of elegance, comfort and charm. Luxurious drapes line windows, rooms are generously sized and there is a quiet, understated elegance to all that is offered. Afternoon tea or evening drinks beside a real log fire in an elegant drawing room/lounge was a wonderful experience. There is, too, a spa in which you can have a massage and relax.

Situated conveniently in the Via Veneto, the Regina is one of the finest hostelries in the Eternal city. In normal times, prices might seem beyond the reach of many budgets yet in this era of straitened finances, it is very different. Opportunities abound.

Chiara Visentin, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Luna Hotel Baglioni in Venice, told me "We find that flexibility is essential in these times. One thing we are not prepared to do is reduce the quality of our product. Indeed, we are one of the very few hotels groups I know in Italy which have continued to invest even in these difficult times.

"The owners here have improved and up-dated all the rooms. It has meant we can offer even better facilities, very often at very realistic rates."

Negotiating a deal has become endemic in the travel business. Rack rates, the prices hotels might normally charge, have become in most cases merely an aspiration. There are few nowadays who will not listen to offers and seek to find a compromise with potential clients. It may be in some cases that, if prices cannot be lowered as far as the customer might wish, other factors such as upgrades can be applied.

The end result is that some genuine bargains are available. Suddenly, luxury hotels such as those in the Baglioni group can come within reach of many travellers. They have had to extend their potential client base well beyond just the jet setters and multi millionaires. And if you can agree a deal within your budget, you will experience the stay of a lifetime.

Dinner at the Luna Baglioni Hotel in Venice, sited right on the Grand Canal near St Marks Square, was a gorgeous experience. Beautifully cooked food and elegant wines you expect at a hotel of this quality. But it is the surroundings that make such an evening so special. Comfortable and elegant, the dining room and service reflected the standards of the hotel itself.

Nearby, the Liassidi Palace hotel, discreetly situated off one of the labyrinth of smaller canals, also offered a valuable deal, of three nights for the price of two. A 4 star hotel, it was not of the standard of the Luna Baglioni, especially in terms of attention to detail. Breakfasts were sufficient but hardly inspiring and leaving an empty bottle of wine and the dirty glass in the room for three days seemed odd.

The room was large with plenty of space and lovely views down the canal. Front desk staff were most helpful. But the lack of a head board on the bed meant reading before lights out was all but impossible. And the lack of an actual bar in the hotel was a pity.

If the tougher economic times mean luxury hotels have to be far more flexible to attract customers, they must provide the best facilities. After all, you're still paying a decent amount and you’re entitled to expect the best. The Baglioni group offers that. They can transform your Italian trip from a pleasant experience into a lifelong memory.

That, at the end of the day, is what makes any trip special.

www.baglionihotels.com

www.liassidipalacehotel.com

Suggested Topics
Voices
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond delivers his speech at the Scottish National Party (SNP) Spring Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland April 12, 2014.
voices
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Pare as Megan Draper and Jon Hamm as the troubled, melancholy Don Draper
tvAnd six other questions we hope Mad Men series seven will answer
Life & Style
The new low cost smartphone of Motorola, 'Motorola Moto G', is displayed in Sao Paulo, Brazil on November 13, 2013. The smartphone, with dimensions 65.9mm W x 129.9mm H x 6.0 - 11.6mm D is equipped with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 with quad-core 1,2 GHz CPU, a 4.5-inch display and Android Operating System 4.3 and a suggested price of $ 179 USD.
techData assessing smartphones has revealed tens of millions of phones are at risk of being harvested
News
David Beckham is planning to build a stadium in Miami’s port for a new football team he will own
news... in his fight for a football stadium in Miami's port area
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
weird newsMan live-photographs cracking of mysterious locked box on Reddit
Sport
Oliver Giroud kisses the Arsenal badge after giving the Gunners the lead
sportArsenal 3 West Ham 1: Two goals from the German striker and one piece of brilliance from Giroud puts the Gunners back above Everton
News
Plans to decriminalise non-payment of television licence fees would cost the BBC £500m according to estimates drawn up within the Corporation
people
News
weird news
Arts & Entertainment
Seeing red: James Dean with Sal Mineo in 'Rebel without a Cause'
filmAs 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star James Dean perfected his moody act
News
Obesity surgery in rats has been found to change the way the body processes alcohol
news
Arts & Entertainment
Heads up: Andy Scott's The Kelpies in Falkirk
artThe Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
Life & Style
US Airways has been at the centre of a Twitter storm after it responded to customer complaints with a graphic sexual image
techUS Airways takes an interesting approach to customer service
Arts & Entertainment
Philip Arditti as Yossarian and Christopher Price as Milo Minderbinder in Northern Stage's 'Catch-22'
theatre
Arts & Entertainment
The Purple Wedding: Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell tie the knot
TV The second episode of the hit series featured a surprise for viewers
Life & Style
Back to nature: women with body issues have found naked yoga sessions therapeutic
lifeDoing poses in the altogether is already big in the US, and now it’s landed here – in mixed classes
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Corporate Sales Manager, Slough

    £30K- £35K pa + Commision £10K + Car and Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly ...

    Sales Manager, High Wycombe

    £30K- £35K pa + Commision £10K + Car and Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly ...

    Travel Consultant - Aberdeen

    £18000 - £27000 per annum: Flight Centre Limited: Join one of the biggest trav...

    Travel Consultant

    £15000 - £27000 per annum + Benefits & Uncapped Commission: Flight Centre Limi...

    Day In a Page

    Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
    The pain of IVF

    The pain of IVF

    As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal
    Supersize art

    Is big better? Britain's latest super-sized art

    The Kelpies are the latest addition to a growing army of giant sculptures. But naysayers are asking what a pair of gigantic horse heads tells us about Falkirk?
    James Dean: Back on the big screen

    James Dean: Back on the big screen

    As 'Rebel without a Cause' is re-released, Geoffrey Macnab reveals how its star perfected his moody act
    Catch-22: How the cult classic was adapted for the stage

    How a cult classic was adapted for the stage

    More than half a century after it was published 'Catch-22' will make its British stage debut next week
    10 best activity books for children

    10 best activity books for children

    Keep little ones busy this bank holiday with one of these creative, educational and fun books
    Arsenal 3 West Ham United 1: Five things we learnt from the battle between the London sides

    Five things we learnt from Arsenal's win over West Ham

    Arsenal still in driving seat for Champions League spot and Carroll can make late charge into England’s World Cup squad
    Copa del Rey final: Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right

    Pete Jenson on the Copa del Rey final

    Barcelona are paying for their complacency and not even victory over Real Madrid will put things right
    Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

    Rafa to reign? Ten issues clay courts will serve up this season

    With the tennis circus now rolling on to the slowest surface, Paul Newman highlights who'll be making the headlines – and why
    Exclusive: NHS faces financial disaster in 2015 as politicians urged to find radical solution

    NHS faces financial disaster in 2015

    Politicians urged to find radical solution
    Ukraine crisis: How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?

    Ukraine crisis

    How spontaneous are the pro-Russian protests breaking out in Ukraine’s east?
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

    The first execution at the Tower of London for 167 years

    A history of the First World War in 100 moments
    Fires could turn Amazon rainforest into a desert as human activity and climate change threaten ‘lungs of the world’, says study

    New threat to the Amazon rainforest:

    Fires that scorch the ‘lungs of the Earth’
    Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City: And the winner of this season’s Premier League title will be...

    Who’s in box seat now? The winner of the title will be ...

    Who is in best shape to take the Premier League prize?