Hotel Accademia, Verona: Review
Hotel Accademia is a four-star hotel in the centre of Verona, and is one of the most popular hotels in town. Having read lots of positive reports by past guests, I visited in February 2011 to see if this hotel really is the best place to stay in Verona. I booked a double room online the day before travelling - it cost €125 for single use, and would have cost €137 for two occupants. This isn't particularly cheap for Italy, but hotel prices are relative and when I compared this with other Verona accommodation, the Accademia was on a par with other 3-4 star hotels nearby. To spend much less I would have to stay in a much lower category of accommodation, outside the centre.
Arrival and first impressions
I arrived just after midday, before the nominal check-in time, but my bedroom was already prepared and a porter escorted me up in the lift. There were several different staff on reception during my stay and they were all polite and friendly (professional rather than chatty). There was always more than one person on duty, so guests weren't kept waiting. Staff were multi-lingual. When I checked in the receptionist queried if, as booked, I wanted a non-smoking room - a good move which should help to keep the rooms sweet-smelling.
The porter opened the external shutters for me on arrival, and staff entered the room to provide a turn-down service and close the shutters in my absence after dark.
The hotel occupies a large historic block of buildings, with an attractive, rather grand facade. There was building work going on opposite the hotel's main entrance (nothing to do with the hotel) but my room faced out onto another street and I wasn't disturbed by any noise. There's a cafe on one side of the hotel, and the hotel's own restaurant on the other.
Although the hotel has a lift, there were still some steps to climb en route to my room. If this would be a problem, I'd suggest you request a room with step-free access when making your online booking.
My bedroom at the Accademia was very good; better than I expected, in fact. It had a generous amount of space for an Italy town-centre hotel, with a small seating area furnished with a sofa and armchair. There were twin beds, each with a bedside table and lamp, two large windows and good-quality furnishings, textured cream wallpaper, a framed historic print of Verona and an attractive mirrored lamp.
Furniture included a desk - with a stool rather than chair - a flat wide-screen TV (Sky and international news channels). There wasn't a convenient plug for using electrical equipment at the desk, but I found one in the seating area. For clothing and possessions, there was a folding suitcase stand and a good-sized wardrobe with sliding mirrored doors, containing a small safe (with space only for the smallest laptops). The mini-bar prices were quite reasonable, by mini-bar standards: €3 for a bottle of beer, fruit juice or little wine bottle. Room service was available from the bar at extra cost. The room was very nicely decorated; simply and to a good standard.
My ensuite bathroom was a reasonable size, containing a bathtub with a good shower overhead, toiletries (nothing fancy), slippers, tissues and good bathroom fittings.
The room was a very good one, and although I could find a few things to criticise, they were really quite minor. The clothes hangers were the fixed kind which are a pain to use, and there were no coat hooks (a common lack, but they are useful). And although the bathroom fittings were for the most part shiningly clean, the cleaner had missed a dirty mark and some small hairs. The corridor smelled of cigarettes when I returned to the hotel in the evening, although the smell didn't penetrate my room.
The bed was very comfortable and fairly firm - everyone has different mattress tastes, but I liked this one. The room was quiet and I slept very well until being woken in the morning by knocking sounds as neighbouring guests were obviously making an early start. Those fixed hangers can make a real clatter against a shared wall.
In the morning I was quite sorry to leave my room and check out. It would have been appealing to retain the hotel as a base for another night - it makes such a handy refuge for breaks in sightseeing itineraries.
I haven't even mentioned one of the best features of my room. I had a balcony in Verona, like Shakespeare's Juliet. My two windows (room 139) - looked onto a little lane and the side of a historic church, and one of these windows opened onto a balcony - the only one on this side of the hotel building. In February and with no Romeo outside it wasn't of actual practical use, but it was still a treat to go and stand outside and admire the Veronese view.
Breakfast and public spaces
I had chosen the hotel partly because it seemed a good base for working as well as sightseeing, and I wasn't disappointed. As well as free wi-fi (with a strong signal in my room), the hotel has several computers for guests' use, and a choice of lounge areas to sit in.
The ground floor is a large open plan area with corners to sit in, and a bar at the back. The bar was a nice environment with big leather armchairs, a friendly barman and generous snacks laid out on the couner. Tea for one cost €4 - slightly pricey, but it was good and came with a nice large pot and little biscuits.
Breakfast was served in a large room on the first floor, with several staff in attendance to bring hot drinks. The buffet was fine - I wouldn't say it was special but there was a big choice of foodstuffs to cater for most tastes. Full marks to the hotel for their tea - Twining's 'English Breakfast' are about the best teabags you can get in Italy; they evidently know their clientele.
The hotel has a restaurant next door which I didn't try.
Location and directions
The hotel is right in the heart of the historic centre of Verona. It is easy to go out, expore the sights, and pop back to the hotel whenever you want a break. There are good restaurants, cafes and bars nearby, which is particularly convenient for solo travellers or others who don't want to walk too far at night. The rustic-styled Ristorante Tabia (see main Verona introduction) is just two streets away and is a good place for well-priced and filling meals. I walked past a small organic cafe which had opened just down the street.
The hotel is on Via Scala, which is a turning off Via Mazzini. Central Verona is a fairly long walk from the railway station. I managed ok with a small wheelie suitcase, but if you're arriving by train with heavy luggage I'd suggest getting a taxi to the hotel. A cheap alternative would be to take a bus to Piazza Brà, and walk from there (see more directions on my Verona travel page). From Piazza Brà, head down marble-paved Via Mazzini, Verona's pedestrianised shopper's paradise, and after a few minutes you'll come to Via Scala on your right; there's a lovely period bookshop on the corner. The hotel entrance is just a few yards down the street on the left.
Hotel Accademia is a refreshing find in Italy. It is the kind of hotel which fills you with relief as you arrive - you'll be comfortable, the standards are high and international, the hotel is efficient and they know what they are doing. The little details show the professionalism and care - no skimping on the fixtures or electrics, little conveniences offered, attentive staff. There was a spare blanket in the wardrobe, a pen and notepaper, a phone in the bathroom, tissues and other necessities provided, bins in both the bedroom and bathroom.
The hotel is large, caters for business conferences and travellers as well as holidaymakers, and doesn't have the intimacy or idiosyncracies that you would typically find in Italy. It is well-maintained and well-run with international standards and a classy, comfortable feel. My only real reservation - and it's not the hotel's fault - would be that the very scale and efficiency of the hotel may make it a trifle bland for more adventurous travellers. I do like a nice little boutique hotel or charming B&B myself - but I still can't resist the simple pleasure of arriving at a good 'safe' hotel like this one, where you can put down your suitcase and know you'll be comfortable.
I'd recommend this hotel to anyone looking for a good, and convenient place to stay in Verona. You could find a cheaper option, but you probably won't find a better one. Rooms are really quite plush and private, and the location is wonderful. Whether you're a romantic (ask for a balcony), a solo traveller or a practical-minded sightseeing tourist, this is a really practical and comfortable choice.