Through labyrinthine canals and past the many bridges of Venice, there lies a hotel that appears to float before your very eyes; a magical place, inextricably linked with the history of this beautiful city of water. The Gritti Palace looks fairly unassuming from the outside but the simple facade belies a wealth of beauty, majesty and tradition that befits one of the oldest buildings in Venice and one of the most luxurious hotels in the world.
Now this may be a former palace, but the intimacy and high level of service makes it every bit a home and The Gritti Palace would be my home away from home in Venice for the next couple days. And I honestly couldn’t have dreamt of a more wonderful place.
Stepping out of the water taxi and on to the hotel’s floating ‘porch,’ I was greeted with a warm welcome as I was led to the hotel’s Gritti Terrace to enjoy a champagne lunch with an amazing view…
I would be staying at The Gritti Palace, a member of The Luxury Collection, to experience the very best in food and drink at the hotel as well as their brand new signature Riva experience. I was soon to realise, that the warmth that I felt on arrival was typical of this hotel and here you’re not just a number, you’re a treasured friend. I paraphrase the great British playwright, Somerset Maugham, who returned to the hotel again and again, to sit at the same table for dinner and enjoy a bottle of Soave at his favourite place.
With the hotel being placed directly on the Grand Canal, the setting of The Gritti Terrace was exquisite with a view of the Santa Maria della Salute church, I sipped my Ruinart Champagne Rosé, watching boats and gondolas drift by and simply soaking up the atmosphere of this unique place. A beautiful city with so much history, and totally unlike anywhere I’d visited before. Well, that’s not quite true I’d been to Venice before, around twenty years ago on an excursion from a cruise ship, but this was to be the first time that I ever stayed.
I was able to get a glimpse of Il Doge, the hotel’s beautiful Riva yacht, which I’d be enjoying on an excursion later. The excursion was so wonderful that I’m going to save the details for a whole separate post and just focus on my hotel experience for this one. I’ll also tell you more about the epicurean experiences offered at the hotel separately but first I want to give you a grand tour of the exquisite hotel interior and a look at the beautiful rooms.
The Gritti Palace embodies the city of Venice and the history and beauty of this wondrous place is seen in every room. The entrance to the hotel typifies the subtle grandeur throughout and there is so much beautiful detail everywhere. Like the other hotels in The Luxury Collection, The Gritti Palace really is an expression of its location and culture. There are only 95 hotels in the collection so each is handpicked for its illustrious history, decor, architecture and art as well as top levels of service.
Now let’s step back in history, The Gritti Palace was built in 1475 and was commissioned by the Doge of Venice, Andrea Gritti, pictured above. It served as the official residence for the Gritti family before later being used as the home for Vatican ambassadors for Venice and later still noble families such as the Pisanis.
It was in 1946 that it became a hotel and in 2011 The Gritti Palace under went a full restoration reopening in 2013. During the renovation it was important to keep Venice at the very core of the hotel as it always had been. There are some hotels that I’ve visited where you feel like you could be anywhere but at The Gritti Palace the very heart of the hotel beats in synchronicity with the city.
Every single one of the sumptuous fabrics are sourced from Rubelli, an iconic Venetian textile company that produces only the highest quality and handmade fabrics.
Throughout the lobby and the rest of the hotel there are beautiful antiques and artwork , including pieces that date back to the original owners.
The beautiful chandeliers, made locally in Murano have been carefully restored to their former glory with meticulous attention to detail.
Integral to The Luxury Collection properties is the inclusion of indigenous experiences and the model Riva boat symbolises the signature tour offered by The Gritti Palace, with Riva itself being an Italian icon.
Again what really struck me about The Gritti Palace was the intimacy, it maybe a grand hotel but it was actually very small with lots of private nooks for a tête-à-tête. It’s one reason why so many famous guests have chosen to make the damask silk lined walls of The Gritti Palace their home and a gallery of stars lines the hallways with faces such as Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly. More recently celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johanssen, Robert De Niro and Tom Ford have paid a visit.
There are only 82 rooms (21 of which are suites) in the hotel, giving a feeling both of privacy and exclusivity.
I absolutely loved my beautiful deluxe room with its glimmering pink Murano glass chandelier, sumptuous fabrics by Rubelli and gorgeous blue wallpaper.
Everything about this hotel is in the detail, from the beautifully restored mirrors and glass lamps…
To the delicate antiques, gold leaf and fabric covered books.
Yet, with all the history, modern amenities still blend in seamlessly with a flat screen TV and iPod docking station.
A grand marble bathroom is the final area to explore, with a deep soaking bath and separate walk in shower.
Even the Acqua di Parma bathroom amenities are a symbol of Italian elegance and these gorgeous products are also used in the hotel’s spa. Developed in Parma in 1916 this was the first ever Italian Eau de Cologne, and fits perfectly into the fibres of The Gritti Palace.
But best of all was the view of the canal from my window. In the morning, I opened the window while I sat doing some work and I could still feel enveloped in the sights and sounds Venice. Water taxis speeding by, gondoliers singing and church bells ringing.
I was fortunate enough to have a tour of some of the top rooms in The Gritti Palace, some of which are named after the illustrious people who once stayed here. Firstly the Hemingway Presidential Suite. Ernest Hemingway once said that The Gritti Palace was ‘the best hotel in a city of great hotels’ and he made the place his home during the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.
Being an English Literature graduate I felt very much in awe of entering the very room where Hemingway composed his novel ‘Across the River and into the Trees.’ With the stunning high ceiling featuring beautiful Venetian Rococo motifs, gorgeous stucco walls and the most elegant of furnishings the suite felt like an 18th Century Venetian palace. Floor to ceiling French doors open on to a Juliet balcony with a view out to the Grand Canal.
The bedroom was of course, fit for the great American Novelist with beautiful silk damask adorning the walls, hung with antique paintings and gorgeous Venetian mirrors. The windows were draped with damask curtains, original designs by Rubelli and even the oak parquet floors are gorgeous.
The Somerset Maugham suite is inspired by the English novelist and playwright who frequently visited The Gritti Palace and wrote that there are ‘few things in life more pleasant than to sit on the terrace on the Gritti when the sun is about to set…’
Now if this isn’t #bedroomgoals, I honestly don’t know what is. Honestly this is quite simply my dream room, I love the soft feminine colour palette and the gorgeous fabrics which are recreations of 20th century fabrics. As with the other rooms in the hotel, chandeliers are a signature feature and they are of course made from Murano glass.
The living area was also a pink and purple palace with beautiful mirroring, gorgeous heritage terrazzo Venetian floors and featuring the works of Somerset Maugham. Both rooms also include the elegant floor to ceiling French doors, so that you can stand on the balcony, Bellini in hand and watch the boats go by.
Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the Peggy Guggenheim suite, inspired by the legendary American art collector and socialite who once frequented the hotel. Nor did I see the spectacular two storey Terrazza Redentore Suite which has an incredible rooftop terrace with sweeping views of the beautiful floating city.
There’s something even more magical about Venice at night and I just wanted to end this post by noting the incredible location of The Gritti Palace. The front may overlook the Grand Canal, but exit the side door and you were right on the narrow streets of Venice. It was only a short walk to the high-end boutiques and designer stores and a ten minute walk to Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square), the main hub of the city of Venice.
But there was place just around the corner from The Gritti Palace that I couldn’t visit Venice without seeing…the famous Harry’s Bar, visited by Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Truman Capote and beloved by Hemingway.
It’s also where my favourite cocktail, the Bellini, was invented by Harry’s Bar founder, Giuseppe Cipriani. A mixture of peach puree and prosecco, the drink is one of the most famous cocktails in Italy, and I made it my mission to sample several. 😉
I have fallen in love with many places around the world, but never have I loved somewhere so deeply via my feelings for the hotel. But with its links to the history of Venice, incredible decor, intimate service and fantastic food, I can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with this magical floating hotel.
PIN FOR LATER:
The Gritti Palace, A Luxury Collection Hotel
Campo Santa Maria del Giglio
+39 041 794611
I was hosted by The Gritti Palace and The Luxury Collection for this trip and my stay and all meals were complimentary.