Venice is, without doubt, the world’s most romantic city, and if you’re treating your beloved to a long weekend, you might as well do it in style. The Gritti Palace is a jaw-droppingly beautiful palazzo right on the Grand Canal, the epitome of luxury in a city already known for its opulence and glamour.
Ernest Hemingway considered The Gritti Palace his home from home, writing much of his novel, Across the River and Into the Trees, here in the 1940s; and the playwright and novelist Somerset Maugham was also a frequent visitor. Treat yourself by following in their footsteps — or should that be in the wake of their gondolas?
The Gritti Palace is for lovers of all kinds: lovers of architecture, lovers of antiques and fine furnishings, lovers of sublime views, and lovers of unparalleled service. It’s a palace glittering with gilt and crystal chandeliers, silks and brocades, and stunningly over the top, so if you’re a fan of minimalism, it’s probably not the hotel for you. If, on the other hand, you want to feel like a fairytale prince or princess: check in!
The rooms and suites at The Gritti Palace vary from small but elegant deluxe rooms, to the blow-out Hemingway Presidential Suite with a private balcony on the Grand Canal. All the options have king sized beds, jewel-like furnishings in an eclectic Venetian style, marble bathrooms, and cosmetics from Acqua di Parma.
The hotel was fully renovated in 2013, and it resembles a private museum: the guest rooms are easily the match of royal chambers at Buckingham Palace or Versailles. The historic architectural features of the building have been painstakingly preserved, so you might well find your room is decorated with original stucco, has heritage terrazzo floors, and a hand painted wooden ceiling. The chandeliers will almost certainly have been made on Murano, and the custom-designed silk damask walls, curtains, and other soft furnishings are by Lorenzo Rubelli.
No two guest rooms are the same, either in their layout or their views, and you could spend hours looking at each piece of antique furniture, oil painting, and Venetian mirror.
The Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Spa is exclusively for hotel guests. The style is calming and minimalist, in contrast to other, more elaborate areas. There are no distractions here: all you can do is relax. The spa’s signature massage is the Blu Mediterraneo (60 minutes, €135), and guests have a choice of five fragrances to accompany their treatment, as well as different pressure levels of touch. The spa uses only Acqua di Parma products, made in Italy from mostly Italian ingredients, many of which are locally sourced.
The Gritti Palace has a fitness centre, equipped by Technogym, which is open 24 hours.
Food and Drink
The Gritti Palace’s Club del Doge Restaurant and its terrace is right on the Grand Canal, with extraordinary views in Venice. We dined as the gondolas passed by, to the sound of splashing waves. The scene before you is continually changing, and the people watching here is one of life’s great pleasures. Delicacies on the menus include selections of Venetian cicchetti, 24-month-aged Parma ham with buffalo mozzarella, and linguini with garlic and clams.
True gourmands may also be interested in a class at The Gritti Palace Epicurean School. Executive Chef Daniele Turco delights his students by teaching them to prepare mouthwatering recipes made from seasonal local ingredients, including fresh seafood from the lagoon.
Staying at The Gritti Palace, you are right on the Grand Canal, so as centrally located in Venice as it is possible to be. You can walk with ease to St. Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace, both of which are on St. Mark’s Square, and cross the Bridge of Sighs or the Rialto Bridge. Take the St. Mark’s Clocktower tour for a strikingly different perspective on the city.
Venice’s museums are magnificent, both in terms of their collections and the extraordinary buildings which house them. The Gallerie dell’Accademia exhibits the old masters, including masterpieces by Bellini, Titian, and Canaletto, whilst visitors to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection can indulge themselves with 20th century artworks from Picasso, Miró, Kandinsky, Dalí, and Klee.
Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.
Rooms from €430.
Value for Money
Rooms at The Gritti Palace don’t come cheaply, but it’s a fair price to pay to sleep in a 15th century building which was, fittingly, the official residence of the Vatican ambassadors to Venice. You can’t put a price on the history, on the irreplaceable artworks and antiques, or on the experience of staying here, so if your budget can stretch this far, bite the bullet and make a reservation here.
British Airways flies directly from Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo, as does EasyJet, and in low season flights cost as little as £50 return. The airport is on the mainland, not on Venice itself, but you can transfer by coach or take a thrilling water taxi ride across the lagoon.