We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Emily Jablon: Daraius and I went to Europe in September to celebrate our 2nd anniversary for ~2 weeks. It was my first time in Italy so I was very excited! In Italy, we visited Varenna on Lake Como, Milan, Venice, and Rome.
Since we were in Europe, we visited a friend in Strasbourg, France and also spent a night in Zurich. We started our trip with a one day layover in Chicago to see friends!
Our Anniversary To Italy – Trip Report Index:
- Part 1 – Planning & Introduction
- Part 2 – Park Hyatt, Chicago
- Part 3 – One Day in Chicago
- Part 4 – Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
- Part 5 – Virgin Atlantic Revivals Lounge, London
- Part 6 – Under the Channel to Strasbourg
- Part 7 – Hotel Cathedrale, Strasbourg
- Part 8 – What did we do in Strasbourg
- Part 9 – Eating in Strasbourg
- Part 10 – Park Hyatt, Zurich
- Part 11 – 10 Hours in Zurich
- Part 12 – Hotel Eremo Gaudio in Varenna, Italy
- Part 13 – What to do in Varenna, Italy
- Part 14 – Eating in Varenna, Italy
- Part 15 – Park Hyatt, Milan
- Part 16 – What Did We Do in Milan
- Part 17 – Eating in Milan
- Part 18 – Hilton Molino Stucky, Venice
- Part 19 – Around the Hilton Molino Stucky & Free Shuttle Boat Details
- Part 20 – What we did in Venice
- Part 21 – Eating in Venice
- Part 22 – Waldorf-Astoria, Rome Cavalieri
- Part 23 – Eating in Rome, Part 1
- Part 24 – Emily’s Best Meal Was in Italy!
- Part 25 – Rome Cavalieri Imperial Floor
- Part 26 – Activities in Rome
- Part 27 – Activities in Rome – Where to Go, What to See, How to Save Time
- Part 28 – Virgin Atlantic Flight from Europe to US
- Part 29 – Conclusion & Blog Giveaway
How You Can do it Too!
It costs 50,000 Hilton points for 1 night (70,000 points in May, June, July & September) at the Hilton Molino Stucky in Venice. The regular price for a room varies from ~$300 to ~$500, so this is a great use of Hilton points!
You get 2 free weekend nights (weekend is defined as Friday, Saturday, or Sunday nights) with the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card.
You also get free Hilton Gold status with the Citi Hilton Reserve card. Hilton Gold status will get you free internet and free breakfast. It costs 20 euro or ~$27 for 1 day of internet in your room (internet is free in the lobby) and 15 euro (~$21) per person for breakfast at the Hilton Molino Stucky.
So we didn’t have to pay ~$68 a day for the convienence of free internet and breakfast with the free Hilton Gold status from the Citi Hilton Reserve!
A less obvious way to get Hilton points is to get the 50,000 mile Virgin Atlantic card and to then transfer 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles to 100,000 Hilton points for free. That way, you get 100,000 Hilton points which you can use for any 2 nights at the Hilton Molino Stucky.
See this post on all the ways to earn Hilton points.
Hilton Molino Stucky, Venice
1. Getting To Venice
We took a 2.5 hour train ride from Milan to Venice. We bought the cheaper 2nd class tickets at the automatic ticket machine in Milan. The tickets were 37.5 euros (~$55) for each 1-way ticket from Milan to Venice.
The machines were easy to use, and we had our tickets in just a few minutes.
We selected our destination, and tried to pay with a credit card.
However we used our British Airways card which has a chip, but the machine wanted to know our PIN as well.
So we just used an American Express card which didn’t require a PIN number.
Soon we were in Venice and outside the train station were the Venetian canals I had read – and dreamed – about since I was a child!
2. Venice Water Taxi to the Hilton
We took a water taxi from the Santa Lucia train station directly to our hotel, the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice. Daraius wanted the James Bond experience!
This cost 60 euro (~$82) for both of us and it is easy to find a water taxi outside the station.
This was cheaper than the 136 euro (~$186) if you arrange for a private transfer through the hotel.
We could have taken the cheaper water bus, but it would take 45 minutes to 1 hour (instead of 15 minutes in a water taxi), so we decided to pay more and save time. We only had 2 days in Venice and were anxious to do some sightseeing!
That said, we did take the water bus around Venice at night and it was a very nice experience.
The hotel publishes a detailed document with all of the transport options including pricing and availability.
The public bus takes about 45 minutes and costs 7 euro (~$10) per person, and includes one piece of luggage. Additional luggage costs 7 euro each.
If you do take the water bus, you have to get off at the “Palanca” stop. There is a short 5 minutes walk including climbing up a few stairs. This isn’t really a big deal if you don’t have a lot of luggage!
The water taxi costs around 60 euro and takes about 15 minutes.
Daraius liked the James Bond feel of the taxi, but was disappointed at how slow the boat went.
3. Hilton Molino Stucky Hotel
Again, here are all the ways to get Hilton points.
The Hilton Molino Stucky isn’t on the main island of Venice, but on a more residential island called Giudecca. We liked being away from the crowds and it was great to be able to explore the smaller and less crowded Giudecca island.
Regular rooms sell for ~400 euro (~$547) and our Tower Suite sells for a staggering $3,466!
The hotel room was very spacious.
There was a king bed with two nightstands.
Along one wall were two windows through which…
…we had a wonderful view of the main island. We could see St. Mark’s Clock Tower from our room.
The bedroom also had a desk…
and a TV, table, and chair.
The bathroom wasn’t that spacious.
It had double sinks…
but a small walk-in shower…
and a bathtub.
Across from the bathroom was a small closet.
In addition to the bedroom and bathroom there was another wing that had a large living room and dining room.
It had a formal dining table and chairs…
and a full living room…
with the same spectacular view.
The couch was not a sleeper sofa, but there was room for a temporary bed in the room.
There was also a guest bathroom for visitors or additional friends or family to use.
The hotel also has a beautiful rooftop swimming pool…
with plenty of lounge chairs…
and a gorgeous view!
The Arsenale Tower is lit up at night, but the pool is closed.
The views at night were very romantic.
The downside of the hotel is that you have to take a boat to get to the main island of Venice.
The Hilton has a free shuttle service that runs throughout the day. But it does take time and we were waiting for 45 minutes once because the shuttle never showed up on time!
Daraius and I had a wonderful time in Venice.
Although getting to The Hotel Molino Stucky requires a boat ride, it was worth it for us because we didn’t pay for the room, internet or breakfast!
We liked escaping from the crowds of Venice to the more residential island of Giudecca.