Where to Sleep
For years, the grand hotels around the Piazza San Marco have had few rivals. There are two Starwood Luxury Collection properties, the 16th-century Hotel Gritti Palace residence of the former Duke Andre Gritti; and the revamped Hotel Danieli, which now houses 73 stylish new suites. Then there’s the Bauer Il Palazzo, with its spectacular terrace bar, the Bar Canale; and of course, the legendary Cipriani, whose gardens alone are worth the trip to Giudecca Island. But along with these, a host of intimate properties have been opening in the city, promising top-notch service, often at a more affordable price.
Opposite the Church of the Frari in the city’s historic center lies the discreet town house–style hotel Oltre il Giardino. Beyond a wooden door, a narrow path leads you through a brick-walled garden full of magnolia and olive trees to a stylish six-room villa. Owner Lorenzo Muner has furnished the space with family heirlooms and antiques, including 18th-century oil paintings and a framed vintage Gucci scarf.
Guests at IQs should expect to be lulled to sleep by the opera-singing gondoliers on the nearby canal. This hidden gem of a hotel, accessible by gondola, is a favorite among privacy-seeking celebs attending the Venice Film Festival. The four large rooms and suites are done up with contemporary furnishings by Moroso and B&B Italia in shades of chocolate, cream, and lacquer red.
A fresco of The Fall of the Giants by 18th-century Rococo master Pietro Longhi flanks an elaborate marble stairway at the entrance to the regal Ca’ Sagredo, a 42-room palazzo dating back to the 15th century. Book Suite 316, which has frescoes of mythological characters by artists Abbondio Stazio and Carpoforo Mazzetti from the 1700’s.
The new B&B San Luca is a loftlike hotel in an 18th-century palazzo near the Rialto Bridge. The wood-beamed rooms are edgy, but classic: colorful Kartell lights, Venini vases, and Starck Ghost chairs are paired with antique wooden dressers. The hotel’s only real downside is its lack of an elevator, though Paolo will be happy to carry your bags up the three flights of stairs.
Glamour comes naturally to the Campa brothers, owners of the intimate 12-room Ca’ Maria Adele. Their grandfather created the world’s largest Murano-glass chandelier, now in a casino in Knokke-le-Zoute, Belgium (a panoramic photograph of the piece is on view in the breakfast salon). Rooms have crystal chandeliers and silk wall fabrics, and bird’s-eye views of the Santa Maria della Salute, a 17th-century church that resembles a tiered wedding cake.