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Living La Vita Locale in Bologna: The apartments at Art Hotel Commercianti

March 25, 2018
Hotel Commercianti in Bologna
Hotel Commercianti in Bologna

Hotel Commercianti in Bologna

There is so much to experience in Bologna (the capital of the Emilia Romagna Region of Italy) that most visitors will want to stay as long as time and money allow.

One of the beauties of Bologna: The Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Vita

One of the beauties of Bologna: The Sanctuary of Santa Maria della Vita

Culinary and wine options (whether they are restaurants, cooking classes, or the farms and food producers that make some of the world’s finest DOC- and DOP-protected food products) are copious in a region that even Italians agree has the best food in a food-obsessed country.

Bowl of Tortellini en Brodo at Da Nello: Bologna is the birthplace of tortellini and tortelloni

Bowl of Tortellini en Brodo at Da Nello: Bologna is the birthplace of tortellini and tortelloni

The number of cultural offerings is impressive (with more than 50 museums alone, and countless other cultural and historical attractions).

High-speed trains leaving from the city’s Bologna Centrale Railway Station make it possible to take day trips to world-class cities such as Florence, Milan, Ferrara, Ravenna and Verona. Visitors to Bologna should also allot sufficient time to aimlessly wander around to fully enjoy this vibrant and engaging four-season city.

Why a serviced apartment linked to a hotel?

When we plan an extended city-stay, we usually opt for an apartment rather than a hotel: An apartment generally affords more space than a single room, and allows for cooking or bringing food in so you don’t have to eat out three times a day.

During a previous visit to Bologna with friends, we rented an apartment from a local agency and found ourselves plagued with unexpected (and disruptive) plumbing problems (no shower or running water in the bathroom). Inconveniently, these problems had to be remedied over several days during our stay.

The apartment didn’t have daily maid service so we had to do some housekeeping, including hauling bags of garbage to trash and recycling receptacles located several blocks away.

We decided that “next time” we wanted the best of both worlds for a stay in Bologna: the amenities of a luxury hotel and the spaciousness and privacy of an apartment.

The apartments at Art Hotel Commercianti

Last April (2017), the four-star Hotel Commercianti opened three luxury apartments just around the corner from the main property.

Front door of our apartment at Art Hotel Commercianti

Front door of our apartment at Art Hotel Commercianti

The hotel is part of a family-owned and managed brand, Bologna Art Hotels, which includes two other hotels: the four-star Hotel Novecento and the three-star Hotel Orologio. (We have now stayed at each of these three properties.) All of them are housed in well-maintained historic buildings, enhanced by museum-quality paintings and sculptural art displayed in rooms and public spaces.

One of the whimsical oil paintings in our apartment at Art Hotel Commercianti

One of the whimsical oil paintings in our apartment at Art Hotel Commercianti

We were perplexed when we couldn't find the safe in our room...

We were perplexed when we couldn’t find the safe in our room…

...the painting should have been a give-away

…the painting should have been a give-away

Hotel Commercianti is housed in a medieval building from the 13th century that couldn’t be more centrally located. It sits beside the Basilica di San Petronio (the main church); just off the Piazza Maggiore, the square that serves as the city’s virtual living room; and a stone’s throw from the Quadrilatero (the ancient food market). This boutique property has 33 guestrooms, a bar, and a restaurant/breakfast room.

The hotel is located right beside the Basilica of San Petronio

The hotel is located on a small street right beside the Basilica of San Petronio

The three apartments are just around the corner from the hotel (80 meters away) in a building on Via d’Azeglio, a popular pedestrian shopping street with boutiques, bars and restaurants.

Via d’Azeglio in Bologna during the day

Via d’Azeglio in Bologna during the day

Via d’Azeglio in Bologna at night

Via d’Azeglio in Bologna at night; without cars or open stores, nighttime noise is minimal

Our luxury apartment: 404 Delgi Artisti

The fully renovated apartment we rented accommodates up to four persons.

Elegant chandelier outside the door of our apartment

Elegant chandelier outside the door of our apartment

The contemporary room décor, in red, black and white with a touch of whimsy, might be found in an upscale apartment in Manhattan or Milan.

The Son of Man painting (Magritte) in the lobby of our apartment

The Son of Man painting (Magritte) in the lobby of our apartment

We had a bedroom area, comfortable sitting area with pullout sofa, desk area with a wireless high-speed internet connection, and kitchenette stocked with pots, dishes and utensils for light cooking. Compared to a hotel room, there was much more room to walk around and stow our belongings.

A giant TV divides the kitchen area from the sleeping area in our apartment at Art Hotel Commercianti

A giant TV divides the kitchen area from the sleeping area in our apartment at Art Hotel Commercianti

Our sleeping area in the apartment

Our sleeping area in the apartment

Our son beside the spacious desk area; the sliding shutters open to the outside

Our son beside the spacious desk area; the sliding shutters open to the outside

A housekeeper came in daily to clean up and change linens. We also took advantage of the hotel’s laundry service (at an additional fee) since our stay there was during the second week of our time in Italy.

Check-in for the apartments is at the main hotel. Each morning, the hotel provides complimentary buffet breakfast between 8AM and 11AM that offers a variety of local products (fruits, cheese, regional breads and cakes, etc.). Breakfasts were as delicious as they were sumptuous. (Daily room rates in Italy typically include a light breakfast but this one was outstanding.)

Entrance to the Breakfast Room at the hotel

Entrance to the Breakfast Room at the hotel

Waking up to cappuccino at the Art Hotel Commercianti

Waking up to cappuccino at the Art Hotel Commercianti

Some of the pastries in the charming breakfast room at Art Hotel Commercianti

Some of the pastries in the charming breakfast room at Art Hotel Commercianti

Food porn: Homemade tiramisu for breakfast at Art Hotel Commercianti

Food porn: Homemade tiramisu for breakfast at Art Hotel Commercianti

It was also reassuring that we could pick up the phone in our apartment 24/7 in case we needed help with anything (e.g. reservations, finding out about tours, etc.). The hotel staff were all very friendly, seasoned and accommodating.

Bottom line

If you are planning to stay in Bologna for more than a couple of nights, an apartment is a reasonable choice. The apartments at Art Hotel Commercianti couple the benefits of apartment living with luxury hotel amenities. Being attached to a hotel offers maximum flexibility, too. For example, when friends from Tuscany come to visit in Bologna, it was convenient for them to book an overnight stay at the same property.

The best part: It felt “Bolognese” to have a key to our own front door without walking through a hotel lobby. The apartment also allowed us to enjoy some “take-away” lunches from the local salumeria (delicatessen with cooked and cured meats, cheeses and more) paired with local wines (such as Pignoletto and Lambrusco).

One of the wonderful salumi plates from Baita La Vecchia Malga in Bologna

One of the wonderful salumi plates from Baita La Vecchia Malga in Bologna

One of the many salumeria in Bologna

One of the many salumeria in Bologna

We were sad when it was time to ring the hotel’s Bellman to carry our suitcases down the apartment stairs before leaving for the airport. Arrivederci, Bologna!


IF YOU GO

-Automobile access to the historic area near the Apartments at Art Hotel Commercianti is restricted with one-way and pedestrian streets. The hotel provides explicit driving directions for those arriving by car.

-For a separate fee, the hotel also offers parking garage (a rarity in the historic center) for those who arrive by car.

  • Reply
    Doreen Pendgracs
    March 25, 2018 at 11:15 pm

    Thx for sharing this incredible find, Irene. If I make it to Bologna, I’d love to stay at the Art Hotel Commercianti. Sounds like the best of both worlds!

  • Reply
    Carol
    March 26, 2018 at 9:30 am

    That’s why my husband opted for timeshares. There’s a consistent level of accommodations and they are like serviced apartments. He prefers to stay at least a week in a place. But this Art Hotel Commercianti is better-appointed and better located!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      March 26, 2018 at 11:55 am

      As comfortable as an apartment with the amenities of a hotel!

  • Reply
    jane
    March 26, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Henk and I also like the apartment approach to travel, because I like to feel like I’m part of the local scene as much as possible. This Art Hotel Commercianti like a great option for Bologna, where we have yet to go but because of its food reputation has always beckoned…was the apartment expensive?

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      March 29, 2018 at 2:53 pm

      Yes, it’s so nice to be among locals as opposed to other tourists!

  • Irene S. Levine
    Reply
    Irene S. Levine
    March 26, 2018 at 11:56 am

    The prices vary by season and by type of accommodation. Here’s some info: https://en.art-hotel-commercianti.com/

  • Reply
    SandInMySuitcase
    March 26, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    You’ve certainly whetted our appetite to try living like a local in Bologna! The food scene sounds and looks delicious. And how nice to have that extra bit of space when staying for more than just a couple of nights :-).

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      March 26, 2018 at 5:08 pm

      Definitely a more than “one-night” city. So much to see and do!

  • Reply
    Marilyn Jones
    March 27, 2018 at 2:37 am

    Excellent advice! Staying at the apartments at Art Hotel Commercianti in Bologna seems like the best solution for an extended stay; the space as well as the amenities of a fine hotel!!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      March 29, 2018 at 2:52 pm

      After hearing about the accident in Mexico where a family of four was killed by gas in a rental villa/condo, it’s nice to have the security of a hotel subject to governmental inspection and licensing.

  • Reply
    Anne Woodyard (@MusicandMarkets)
    March 28, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    This truly does sound like the best of both worlds for enjoying a city….and isn’t Bologna a beauty?! I love the frescoed arcades…

  • Reply
    Lisa Chavis
    March 29, 2018 at 11:34 am

    I love finding out about new places to stay that make you feel more a part of the area than a hotel…and the Art Hotel Commercianti looks perfect! Bologna is one of our favorite towns in Italy and your food photos now have me drooling 😉 Thanks for sharing this wonderful find and we’ll certainly add it to our Italy list for future travels!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      March 29, 2018 at 2:54 pm

      I hope to return so maybe we’ll meet over breakfast:-)

  • Reply
    Sue Reddel
    March 29, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    What a wonderful idea Irene. I love the fact that you can rent the apartment and take advantage of the spacious rooms and kitchen but still have access to amenities like housekeeping and other services. That breakfast that was included made me instantly hungry. Terrific accommodations for a city that is ideally located for travels throughout Italy – just perfect!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      April 1, 2018 at 9:40 am

      I’m also yearning for that breakfast this morning! Especially the tiramisu cake:-)

  • Reply
    Michela of Rocky Travel
    March 30, 2018 at 7:33 am

    As a born and bred Italian, I must admit that Bologna is number 2 among my favourites italian cities – after my beloved Venice – especially for its great food. While Bologna has a wonderful historical town centre is not always easy to find good accommodation in Bologna, especially for a week or so. This Art Hotel Commercianti looks like a great stay within the city centre. Bookmarked! If you plan to come again to Bologna make sure you visit FICO, a permanent local produce and food show, if a are a food-lover a must!:-)

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      April 1, 2018 at 9:41 am

      You are prescient, Michela! Just starting to write about our visit to FICO:-)

  • Reply
    Karen Warren
    March 30, 2018 at 8:59 am

    Like you, I always prefer an apartment to a hotel. Unless the hotel is quirky or historic – looks as if Art Hotel Commercianti is the best of both worlds!

  • Reply
    Debbra Dunning Brouillette
    March 30, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    The apartment stay at the Art Hotel Commercianti to “live like a local” in Bologna looks like the way to go! How long was your stay? I haven’t yet visited Italy but am anxious to do so.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      April 1, 2018 at 9:42 am

      We stayed at the hotel for a week, part of a longer visit to Italy. If you haven’t visited Italy, you must! It is my favorite place in the world.

  • Reply
    Kristin Henning
    April 2, 2018 at 4:22 am

    We need to include Bologna in our Italy itinerary in May. I love the hotel/apartment approach for feeling at home on the road.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      April 2, 2018 at 9:04 am

      Hope you get to Bologna, you won’t be disappointed!

  • Reply
    sheryl
    April 5, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    I am so convinced…you had me at the first paragraph. And a certain someone else is chomping at the bit to go to Bologna. I think it might just happen – and these apartments look spectacular (as does all the food!)

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