Originally constructed in 1475 for the Doge of Venice (Andrea Gritti), the Gritti Palace is probably what you have in mind when you think “Venetian hotel”—Grand Canal views; beautiful, exquisitely detailed rooms done up in rich fabrics; and above-and-beyond service. Though the location is within walking (or boating) distance to all the major sights, the atmosphere generally stays serene and refined—not always the case in this ultra-busy town.
Each of the 82 rooms is unique, though even the smallest sports Murano glass chandeliers, antique furniture, and walls decorated in rich Italian fabrics. Others have hand-painted ceilings, original oil paintings, and Venetian mirrors. All will make you feel like you’re not in Kansas anymore.
The Patron Canal Suites are lovely and whimsical, lined with artworks and boasting prime Grand Canal views.
Yes, bathrooms can be beautiful—and these most certainly are. Walls are floor-to-ceiling marble, with soaking tubs and separate showers, and have exclusive Acqua di Parma products.
The lobby itself is a jewel box, with rich wood, black-, white-, and brown-tiled floors, and a small sitting area. But venture back into the hotel to see its true colors, including the sumptuous Explorers’ Library, with its gilded beamed ceilings and accents of red and gold.
The Acqua di Parma spa is on the small side—but hey, it’s a spa, and you can get massages, facials, and scrubs, all using the luxe signature products.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Guests expecting a pool or other spa amenities (like saunas) should look elsewhere.
The compact but adequate gym can be accessed 24 hours a day.
Anywhere you dine at the Gritti will have a view. Guaranteed. In summer, don’t miss the famed Gritti Terrace, perfect for lunching while watching the gondoliers float by. All year-round, Club del Doge serves up seasonal plates in a lovely Venetian-style room with beamed ceilings.
Sign up for cooking classes at the Gritti Epicurean School, which often include a visit to Rialto Market.
Bar Longhi, lined with green marble and filled with Murano glass lamps, makes a gorgeous space for a drink. Or in warm weather, enjoy the prime Grand Canal views with an outdoor tipple at the Riva Lounge.
Try the Gritti’s refreshing signature drink, The Riva Cocktail (grapefruit, white rum, blue curacao, orgeat syrup, and orange bitters).
Just west of Piazza San Marco (yet far away enough to beat the crowds), it’s a quick and easy walk east to the attractions in and around St. Mark’s Square, or west to cross the Ponte dell’Accademia bridge over to Dorsoduro (where you can see the Gallerie del’Accademia, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Punta della Dogana, and more).
If you’d prefer to go by boat, the Santa Maria del Giglio traghetto (basically a large gondola) stop is just outside the hotel. From there, take a boat directly across the canal to Dorsoduro.
Getting lost in the narrow Venetian streets will be worth it once you find Ai Mercanti (7-minute walk), a haven for inventive dishes at a reasonable price. Osteria Enoteca San Marco (6-minute walk) is a surprisingly ultra-modern Italian bistro with a wonderful wine list amongst a sea of tourist traps. Michelin-starred Ristorante Quadri (7-minute walk) is pricey and gets mixed reviews, but its prime location in Piazza San Marco is worth a look.
Down an Aperol Spritz while taking in prime Piazza San Marco views at Caffè Florian (7-minute walk), or sample a Bellini cocktail at its place of birth, Harry’s Bar (6-minute walk)—mainly a restaurant, but it’s fun to nibble on olives and people-watch in the bar area. Enoteca al Volto (8-minute walk) is a fine place to stop for some cicchetti (bar snacks) and wine on a quiet back street.