More than anything, I love Bologna for its food scene, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way. But you’ll also find distinctive architecture, like the covered arcades that line its streets and the famous Two Towers, that make it unique.
In the following sections, I share my selection of the best boutique hotels that capture the essence of this Italian city.
Boutique Hotels in Bologna
Choosing the right area to stay in Bologna will help shape your experience of the city. Near the train station, the convenience for short stays is unmatched if you’re travelling by train.
Via dell’Independenza, where I stayed on my first visit, is near many sights and gives you easy access to Piazza Maggiore and the rest of the city.
Generally, proximity to Piazza Maggiore is the best option as it’s the central hub of Bologna.
My RecommendationI Portici Hotel Bologna
Address: Via dell’Indipendenza, 69, Bologna
Landmark: La Piccola Venezia
This hotel is highly rated, with its location being an advantage. It’s a short walk from the main attractions and the railway station. The check-in process is notable for its efficiency and the warmth of the welcome provided by the staff. Guests have found the rooms to be spacious, with certain rooms having large balconies and modern amenities such as USB charging ports. The hotel is adjacent to a city park and sits on the busy main street, promising a vibrant atmosphere and quick access to the heart of Bologna. The highlight for many is the in-house restaurant, which holds a Michelin star and is celebrated for its exceptional tasting menu. The breakfast service receives praise, too, with the choice of Italian and continental options.
- Great lobby and common areas.
- Large rooms with seating area.
- Excellent breakfast selection.
- Great location on Via dell’Indipendenza.
- Highly rated service.
- Efforts are made to minimise food waste.
- Most food is organic and locally sourced.
Pros: Central location, spacious rooms, modern conveniences, Michelin-starred dining, historic setting.
Cons: Single rooms are quite small.Check Availability
I’ll also recommend a few other hotels that stand out for their unique qualities. These options vary in their design, location and value for money.
Aemilia Hotel Bologna
Address: Via Giovanna Zaccherini Alvisi 16, Bologna
Landmark: Bologna University
Aemilia Hotel is reputed for its attentive service and comfortable amenities. Rooms are noted for their views, especially the ones overlooking Bologna city centre, and for being well-appointed, ensuring a restful stay. The hotel benefits from its slight distance from the city centre, providing a quieter environment while still being convenient access to the airport and train station.
Facilities are modern and well-maintained, including a rooftop garden that offers panoramic views and a jacuzzi. Dining options on-site are of such quality that guests sometimes dine in despite Bologna having exceptional local eateries. Comparisons with other hotels in the area suggest the hotel stands out for its updated interiors and comprehensive services, including a decent breakfast spread.
If you would prefer a 5-star experience, there are some interesting options. These hotels typically provide a higher standard of service. In Bologna, luxury hotels generally are more of the classic luxury style rather than boutique places to stay.
Grand Hotel Majestic gia’ Baglioni
Address: Via Indipendenza 8, Bologna, Italy
Landmark: Via dell’ Indipendenza
During my family trip to Bologna, we stayed at the Grand Hotel Majestic. Located on Via dell’ Indipendenza, it’s right in the heart of the city’s shopping district and just down the road from Piazza Maggiore. The hotel exceeded every expectation with its efficient service and friendly staff. Rooms were comfortable, with cosy beds and well-equipped bathrooms.
Each morning, breakfast was served in a stunning room, offering a good selection of dishes. Although street noise was sometimes noticeable, it was a minor hiccup in an otherwise flawless stay. The classic elegance of the hotel, coupled with its central location and air-conditioned rooms, made for a great luxury choice.
When looking for a unique design hotel, focus on the creative aspects that set it apart. These might include inventive architecture, distinctive room layouts, or original art installations. The social hub is a very unique choice.
The Social Hub Bologna
Address: Via Aristotile Fioravanti 27, Bologna
Landmark: Train Station
The Social Hub is an exceptional place if you want a vibrant and contemporary setting. Known for its plush beds, the hotel promises rest after a day of exploration. The breakfast has a good variety that includes pancakes and plenty of fresh fruit.
With many complimentary amenities, including a pool, gaming areas, a cafe, and robust Wi-Fi, it caters particularly well to digital nomads and younger guests. The co-working spaces and the hotel’s upbeat atmosphere make it suitable if you would like to blend work with leisure. Situated a short walk from the train station, the Social Hub is also convenient for those travelling by rail.
For an authentic taste adventure, I’ve published a comprehensive guide on Eating all the Food in Bologna, which you’ll find helpful for your culinary exploration.
Where to Stay in Bologna
Centro Storico (Historic City Centre): The Centro Storico is the heart of Bologna, with historical landmarks such as the Piazza Maggiore and the Two Towers. This area is your best bet if you’re interested in cultural attractions with easy access to museums and ancient architecture. The streets here are lined with an eclectic mix of cafes, gelaterias, and trattorias that capture the essence of Italian cafe culture. The evenings are vibrant, as the area is also known for its bars and nightlife. It’s an ideal choice for first-time visitors wondering where to stay in Bologna.
Via dell’Indipendenza: This is the main artery of Bologna, connecting the railway station with the historic centre. Staying here means you’re never far from the best shopping, dining, and entertainment options in Bologna. Via dell’Indipendenza is bustling by day and maintains a lively atmosphere into the night. The street is dotted with historic buildings, independent stores, and some of the city’s most well-known retail outlets. It’s great for those who want the convenience of having everything at their doorstep.
Piazza Maggiore: Around Piazza Maggiore, the city’s main square, lies a neighbourhood known for its grandeur and historical significance. Several important buildings, including the Basilica di San Petronio and the medieval Palazzo d’Accursio surround the square. The neighbourhood’s narrow streets host a variety of upscale dining options and traditional Bolognese eateries. In this neighbourhood, you’re at the centre of Bologna’s rich history and vibrant present.
Bologna Centrale (Train Station): The area surrounding the Stazione Centrale is a hub for travellers travelling through Italy by rail. It’s convenient for short stays or those with early departures and late arrivals. Despite the bustle, you can find pockets of tranquillity in nearby parks. This neighbourhood is less touristy, offering a more authentic slice of Bolognese life, with plenty of local bars and restaurants that stay open late.
Santo Stefano: A picturesque neighbourhood characterised by its historical charm and the famous set of religious buildings known as the Santo Stefano complex. It’s a quieter part of the city with a more laid-back vibe. The area has a wealth of artisanal shops and outdoor cafes, providing a relaxed atmosphere for those looking to unwind. Green spaces are more abundant here, making it a good choice if you appreciate a balance between city life and nature.
Università (University Quarter): As the name suggests, this is the academic quarter of Bologna, home to the oldest university in the world. The presence of students means this area is alive with an energetic buzz, cool bars, and affordable eateries. The neighbourhood has an alternative night scene with indie music venues and lively pubs. It’s a young and dynamic area that provides an alternative and inexpensive stay.
Giardini Margherita: If green spaces and a serene atmosphere are what you want, Giardini Margherita is the area to stay. Named after its expansive public park, this neighbourhood promises a peaceful retreat. It’s popular among families and those looking for a quieter visit.
Create an Itinerary
Taking a Northern Italy Road Trip can be the highlight of any travel itinerary, with a route that takes you through some of Italy’s most scenic landscapes and culturally rich cities.
My train trip to Bologna was just one leg of a grand 21-day Europe Itinerary, and I’ve laid out an engaging road trip plan that weaves through the must-visit locales of Northern Italy.
Plan Your Trip
Via dell’Archiginnasio is a stroll away from Piazza Maggiore and is a gateway to some of Bologna’s most remarkable historical sites.
These culturally significant landmarks are essential visits for anyone looking to understand the city’s rich academic and architectural heritage.
Responsible Travel Tips
Here are a few tips on how we can travel more responsibly in Bologna.
Minimise Food Waste: When dining out, order portions you can finish to avoid food waste or share dishes if the servings are large. Many Bolognese restaurants are known for their generous portions, so it’s wise to be mindful when ordering.
Sustainable Eating: Embrace a sustainable diet by choosing restaurants that source their ingredients locally and choose plant-based more often. Bologna’s markets are a testament to the region’s local produce; support these local food economies by going to places that use these resources.
Eco-friendly Transport: Use Bologna’s public transport network or hire a bicycle to navigate the city. Bologna’s flat terrain and bike-friendly lanes make cycling a practical and environmentally friendly option for exploring.
Train Travel: Consider using trains for inter-city travel as a lower-carbon alternative to flying. Bologna is well-connected by rail to other Italian cities, which makes train travel a viable and efficient choice for your itinerary.
Electric Vehicles (EV): If hiring a car is necessary for your road trip, look into electric vehicle options. Charging points are increasingly common in urban areas, making it a feasible choice for responsible travel.
Support Local Businesses: Engage with the local community by hiring local guides for tours. These individuals have invaluable insights and often have a smaller environmental footprint compared to larger tour companies.
Shop Locally: Invest in the local economy by shopping at independent stores and artisanal markets rather than multinationals.. Not only does this help sustain local jobs, but it also reduces the environmental impact associated with large retail chains.
If you have questions or want to leave a hotel review, please do so in the comments.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research.