Today (December 2, 2015): Review of San Clemente Palace Venice.
- Location: Google Maps
- Hotel website: San Clemente Palace Venice
- Tip: get free VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
San Clemente Palace Venice is a famous retreat that sits on its own private island in the heart of the Venice lagoon, just minutes away from Piazza San Marco by one of the hotels iconic complimentary boats. San Clemente island was founded in 1131 with the purpose of encouraging “the recovery of the soul and spirit”. Today, the upscale hotel offers 6 hectares of lush gardens and a private 15th century church ideal for celebrations. The 189 suites and rooms are surrounded by majestic gardens and terraces that overlook the Venice lagoon. I visited the hotel in October 2015, when it was still a member of the St Regis hotel group, but since spring 2016, the property is managed by Kempinksi.
San Clemente Palace Venice features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Venice.
In this review (more info below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- San Clemente Palace Kempinski Venice is located on the private Island of San Clemente in the Venetian lagoon, just 15 minutes away from Piazza San Marco by one of the hotel’s complimentary boats. The boat ride is a sightseeing trip in itself as you’ll cross the historic waters of Venice.
- The island retreat is totally private and may not be reached by public transportation: only the hotel’s own boats and water taxi services may access the retreat.
- The arrival at the hotel is very impressive: the boat docks at the hotel’s private pier, and you then walk through the magnificent gardens to the main building.
- The resorts grounds are stunning as the small island boasts an ancient park with jogging track, tennis courts, golf course, expansive swimming pool, and a spa.
- One of the highlights is the hotel’s beautiful, private church. The Romanesque white facade of San Clemente Church and the flawless views of the Venetian lagoon are romantic backdrops to any celebration. Paved with traditional Venetian stone Mascagni, the churchyard welcomes wedding receptions for up to 300 guests. Direct access to the churchyard is granted by its private pier.
- The lovely square in front of the church is one of the most desirable and enjoyable places in all of Venice to sit and relax with your loved ones. The picturesque square opens up to the lagoon, offering an impressive view – especially at sunset – of the Venice skyline with the Alps in the background.
- The grand lobby‘s 17th century walls are lavishly decorated and themed to reflect the tastes of noblemen, Doges and merchants.
- The hotel staff provides outstanding service.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The private island setting of the San Clemente hotel is spectacular, and so are the private church and the resort grounds. But no matter how beautiful the hotel is from the outside, its interiors are a huge disappointment (even downright creepy) and my stay was not flawless:
- The hotel buildings are massive, with a complex labyrinth of very long, intimidating corridors that could easily feature as the background of a creepy horror movie (especially at night). The place does not feel intimate nor inviting, and needs to be redesigned.
- It is important to state the building was never a palace, despite its name. It used to be a military hospital during the plague of 1575-77, and was then turned into a monastery.
- The 190 spacious rooms and suites are branded as “majestically appointed, many of them with panoramic views of the Lagoon and Venice, others overlooking the park and island’s internal gardens”. While the rooms are spacious indeed, the furniture is very old-fashioned. Rooms are in a desperate need of a refurbishment. Bathrooms seem to come straight from the eighties.
- The hotel has shifted management in just a few months time, which is never a good sign. It was a St Regis hotel for a couple of months, before it was taken over by Kempinski in spring 2016. I visited the place when the hotel was stil managed by St Regis, and frankly, the hotel was a shame to the brand because the interiors and service are not in line with the ultraluxurious character of its other properties (so it does not surprise me that they dumped it a few months after the opening). I can only hope that Kempinksi will hire a design team and refurbish the rooms to turn this place into an amazing 5-star hotel.
- Room rates are insanely expensive. This is Venice, so everything is expensive, but the hotel overcharges for the experience its offers.
- The large, outdoor swimming pool is a nice addition to the hotel, because pools are a rarity in Venice. But it is basically a large hole in the ground filled with water, and its design leaves much to be desired.
- The resort has several eateries and fine dining venues. While the food is excellent, the very high food prices are not justified, and too high in comparison to Venice’s other top restaurants.
- The private island setting of the San Clemente Palace Kempinski Venice is spectacular but not unique in Venice. The hotel’s neighbouring island also has its own luxury hotel, the JW Marriott Venice, which is far better and which I highly recommend (read here my review of this hotel).
- Location: 8/10
- Design: 5/10
- Rooms: 5/10
- Food: 7/10
- Service: 8/10
- Overall experience: mediocre: 6.8/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking Kempinski San Clemente Palace Venice via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit; if you stay in a Giardini Suite & above, you also get a one-way private airport transfer).
- Save money: make use of Kempinski’s Best Rate Guarantee to get an extra 25% room discount and free upgrade!
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Kempinski San Clemente Palace Venice. Book a room at the cheapest price and/or receive many free perks!
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Late spring and early summer are the best times to visit Venice as far as weather is concerned. But the city during these beautiful warm days is packed with tourists, meaning that there can be long waits to enter museums and sights. Also during this peak time, finding accommodations – budget or otherwise – can be a challenge. In summer, the city can be oppressively hot, the canals ripe with odor, and the inevitable mosquitoes are bothersome. Venice’s location, in northern Italy on the Adriatic Sea, means that the city has colder, longer winters. While winter can be a great time of year to visit, especially in terms of getting a bargain and avoiding crowds, it can be harsh (the winds that whip off the Adriatic and down the alleyways are bone-chilling).
HOW TO GET THERE
Venice is served by 2 airports and this Tripadvisor explains you how to get from the airport to the city center.
- Venice Marco Polo Airport is located 8 km north of the city and it served by most European full-service carriers (click here for a direct link to their websites) as well as by some non-European airlines. Check the Wikipedia page of Venice Marco Polo Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Venice.
- Treviso Airport is located 20 km from the Venice city center and is served by some European low-cost carriers (click here for a direct link to their websites). Check the Wikipedia page of Treviso Airport for an updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Treviso.