These are only notes for a trip that I'm planning in April of 2006. Many of the hotels listed here I learned about from the excellent Charming Small Hotel Guide: Venice and North-East Italy, 1999. I've only listed hotels that have their own web pages and that have "en suite" bathrooms (at least a toilett and a shower). I've mainly concentrated on two to three star hotels (leaving out, for example, the Gritti Palace which is beyond the budget of a humble computer scientist).
The bearcave.com site is non-commercial and I have no financial connection to any of these hotels. You are encouraged to do you own "due diligence".
As it turns out, April is "high season" in Venice. The prices below are from 2006, for a single room (sadly, I travel alone).
As the name suggests, the San Marco area is around the Piazza San Marco, the Basilica San Marco and the Doge's Palace. If you think of the Grand Canal as a sort of mirrored "S" shape (like a Z), where the top of the "S" is up at the train station and the causeway leading into venice, the San Marco area is at the bottom of the S.
The Dorsoduro area is across the Grand Canal from the San Marco area. They are connected by the Ponte Dell'Accademia bridge. It is in this area that the Accademia di Belle Art gallery is located.
This area is located below (where below is south) the Santa Croce, across the Grand Canal from the San Marco area. It is closer to the San Marco area than Santa Croce.
Santa Croce is located above the Dorsoduro area, near the top part of the mirrored "S" shaped Grand Canal. The Santa Croce area is across the Grand Canal from the San Marco area and is connected to the San Marco area by the Ponte Di Rialto.
The Cannaregio is at the top of the mirrored "S", across the Grand Canal from Santas Croce. Other than via the waterbus ("vaporetto"), there does not seem to be any direct connection between the Cannaregio and the core of Venice (if we consider the Piazza San Marco as the core). There is a bridge from Cannaregio to the area where the train station is (at Rio TEra San Leonardo) and then there is the Ponte Dei Scalzi bridge that connects to Santa Croce. But that's a pretty long way around and the waterbus is probably faster.
The Castello area is to the left of the San Marco area, if the map is oriented North to South, with Cannaregio at the top. It is in the Castello area that the Arsenal is located. The Arsenal is the old Venician ship building area.
Assuming that you would like to talk to central Venice (again, where "central" Venice is the Piazza San Marco area), Cannaregio is probably too far out of the way. The San Marco, Castello, San Polo and Dorsoduro areas are probably the best choices.
There are some hotels that do not have their own web sites (for example, La Residenza in Venice's Castello district). These and other hotels can be booked through hotel booking sites. It makes me a little nervous that you are one step removed from the hotel. The hotels probably pay a fee for a booking. I don't know if this translates to a higher room rate (or perhaps a less desirable room) or not.
I found about about this site through an email that I got from Fabio Bacco. According to Sr. Bocco:
VeniceHotel.org is a search engine that provides real-time information about availability and room-rates for different hotels in Venice, and delivers that information directly, avoiding third-party commission or fees. To reserve you can contact directly the hotels through their official websites, by email or phone.
The VeniceHotel.Org web site is nicely constructed and includes references to many more hotels than I've listed here. A nice feature of the web site is that it lists the number of guide books that include the hotel. Note that just because a hotel is included in a guide book does not mean that they enthusiastically recommend it. I have found reviews on tripadvisor.com very useful, so I'd combine a search on VeniceHotel.org with the tripadvisor.com reviews.
You can select a date and get a set of hotels according to their star rating and location.
Some people love crowds and "action". If you're one of these people then you might want to stay in San Marco. For everyone else, my advice is "don't". I would rather stay almost anywhere else in Venice than the San Marco area. The San Marco area is more expensive and far more noisy and crowded than the rest of Venice. By the middle of the day in April the Piazza San Marco is packed with people. I cannot begin to imagine what it is like in the summer.
The area near the Piazza San Marco is easily reached in a few minutes by water bus from the rest of Venice. I was able to walk from where I was staying in Dorsoduro (La Calcina) to the Piazza San Marco in fifteen minutes. So the "central" location of the Piazza San Marco hotels is not a big advantage.
The Hotel Firenze is 30 m away from Piazza San Marco. This may be problematic, since the Piazza San Marco is one of the busiest parts of Venice. The hotel has a lovely palazo front, a nice lobby and breakfast room. Some of the rooms pictured have pink wallpaper (not a plus for me).
€190 per night
close to Piazza San Marco.
San Marco, 2283/A-30124
Venice Ph. +39.041.5205844 Italy
A beautiful garden with art nouveau and antique decor. The rooms all have baths and internet connections(!). They write that the Hotel is in a quiet area, which is a worry about the Hotel Firenze, which is so close to the Piazza San Marco.
€190 per night
Hotel San Moisè
San Marco 2058 - 30124 Venezia
Venician decorating style is a bit akin to British decorating style. To those of us who love Japanese style and clean lines, it is rather garish. The pink silk damask wallcoverings of Hotel San Moisè have been described as "reminiscent of a high-class brothel". But the staff is supposed to be very friendly. Quite close to the Piazza San Marco.
Sernissima, between the Rialto Bridge and the Piazza San
Calle Goldoni 4486-30124
Venezia Tel. 041.52.00.011
This hotel is highly recommended in Small Hotels. Rooms have Internet connections.
€105 per night