A journey through time and culture – Venice is a magical place. Once you have seen it, it stays in your heart forever, thanks to its atmosphere, its art and its history. And why not, for its luxury hotels. Almost all of the venues are members of the Venetian Hoteliers Association (Associazione Veneziana degli Albergatori), led by Claudio Scarpa, which, with its own Study Centre, carries out awareness raising activities for the tourism sector. Strolling along the Grand Canal, you can catch a glimpse of some of the very best hotels on offer.
The 15th-century building which houses the Ca’ Sagredo has retained all the beauty of a noble residence decorated by the leading Venetian painters of the 17th and 18th centuries. The dining room looks out onto the Rialto market whose fresh produce inspires the menu offering a selection of local favourites.
The Baglioni Hotel Luna, at the entrance to Piazza San Marco, owes its name to the Osteria della Luna inn which was founded here in 1324. More than just a hotel, it is an art gallery, boasting a room decorated with frescos by followers of Tiepolo, French tapestries, porcelain from Limoges and ornate cabinets, and bedrooms with Venetian drapes and oriental lamps.
Another period building, Papadopolo, dating back to the 16th century, houses the Aman hotel. Decorated largely with works by Tiepolo, it also has two private gardens – a real rarity in the city of waterways. The food is prepared under the watchful eye of the acclaimed Michelin- starred chef Davide Oldani. For a taste of modern Venice, home of the Guggenheim museum, the alleyways lead to the Sina Centurion Palace, a building decorated with gothic-style battlements and a futuristic interior design. It owes its name to an ancient Roman coin which was found in the hotel.
On the other side of Piazza San Marco is the Riva degli Schiavoni, where visitors should prepare to be dazzled by the eclectic Metropole hotel. Eccentric and enthralling, ranging from the beauty of original period furniture to Liberty- style pieces, from oriental inspiration to the majestic golden shells.
On the separate island of Giudecca, visitors can enjoy the true Venetian atmosphere of the Belmond Hotel Cipriani, with Murano glass candelabras, golden ceilings and terraces reminiscent of Venice’s quaint squares.
For three years now, the leading luxury hotels have battled it out during the only sailing regatta around a city circuit, the Venice Hospitality Challenge, the Formula 1 of sailing according to Mirko Sguario, President of the Venice Yacht Club.
By Claudia Chiari