Today (September 14, 2016): Review of The Gritti Palace, Venice’s most famous luxury hotel.
- Location: Google Maps
- Address: Campo Santa Maria del Giglio, 2467, 30124 Venezia, Italy
- Hotel website: The Gritti Palace
- Tip: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso
The Gritti Palace, which is managed by Starwood’s The Luxury Collection, is one of Venice’s most celebrated luxury hotels. Reopened in 2013 after a $50 USD million refurbishment, it is a place where Italian history and culture meet with renewed Venetian style, a place of exceptional art and elegance, reassuringly intimate with a homely feel. Located along Venice’s Canal Grande, The Gritti Palace has always attracted global influencers, celebrities and the world’s elite to socialize, draw inspiration, and celebrate during international city events such as the Biennale of Contemporary Art and the Venice Film Festival. I took my family on a surprise trip to The Gritti Palace to celebrate my 40th anniversary a few weeks ago.
The Gritti Palace features in my top 10 lists of the world’s most spectacular hotel rooftops in the world, the most luxurious hotels in Venice, and luxury hotels made famous by Hollywood movies.
In this review (more info below the 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
- The Gritti Palace enjoys a central and prestigious location in Venice. It sits right on the most beautiful stretch of the majestic Canal Grande, hereby facing the Basalica di Santa Maria (one of Venice’s greatest churches), and it’s only a 5 minute walk from the hotel to the city’s most famous square, the Piazza San Marco.
- The hotel has an illustrious history, dating back to 1475, when the Doge of Venice, Andrea Gritti, commissioned it. At first the official residence of the Gritti family, the palace was later used as the residence of the Vatican ambassadors to Venice. In 1895 the palazzo was converted into a hotel that catered mostly to long-term guests. It was only after 1947, when the luxury hotel group Compagnia Italiana Grandi Alberghi bought the property, that the Gritti Palace acquired its legendary five-star reputation. Since 1994, Starwood’s The Luxury Collection manages the hotel as one of its flagship properties.
- In 2013, the hotel reopened to great fanfare after a $50 USD million, meticulous renovation, which took 15 months to complete. Starwood brought in Atlanta-based interior master designer Chuck Chewning, creative director of the fabrics and furnishings company Donghia, to restore and refurbish the hotel’s decor. Art in its many forms was an important part of the restoration, from the precious Rubelli fabrics that decorate guestrooms and suites, to the exceptional glass chandeliers meticulously hand restored according to tradition by able glassmakers from nearby Murano.
- The hotel reflects Venice’s identity in its sumptuous interior decoration. Beautiful terrazzo floors, original wooden ceilings, dressing-table mirrors, countless curlicues of Murano glass, and a remarkable selection of antiques adorn all private and social spaces within the hotel, offering guests an insight into its intriguing and illustrious past.
- The 82 rooms (including 21 suites), with their returned treasures and seamlessly blended replacements, are all different and all (bar two suites with a more Art Deco twist) retain the sumptuous period style you would expect of a 15th-century Venetian palazzo. During my visit, I stayed in a deluxe rooms, and so did my family. Unfortunately, the property was fully occupied, so an upgrade was not possible, but both rooms, albeit not large, were gracious and elegant, surrounding us with the history and intrigue of five centuries of Venetian life. Bathroom were swathed from floor to ceiling in Italian marble, and came with luxurious Acqua Di Parma toiletries, a brand emblematic of the most refined Italian style.
- Ten unique suites are inspired by famous past guests such as Hemingway, Somerset Maugham, Ruskin, and Peggy Guggenheim, after art and cultural institutions such as Punta della Dogana, La Fenice, and by traditional festivities such as the Redentore Suite, whose one-of-a-kind rooftop terrace affords views of the Grand Canal, the Giudecca island and southern lagoon.
- Entirely renovated, with hand-sculpted mirrors, Murano glass lamps and a carved polychromatic marble counter, the hotel bar – designated ‘Bar Longhi‘ – is the perfect location to start your day with a wonderfully done espresso, or to enjoy a signature drink with friends after dinner.
- Set on the Grand Canal, the hotel’s floating terrace continues to be the social hub of Venice, designed to bring back the elegant wooden decks of Italian yachts in the 1930s, with polished wood and gleaming stainless steel accents. One side of the terrace is reserved for the seasonal Riva Lounge, where you can observe the Gondolas on the Grand Canal and enjoy the fantastic view of the Santa Maria della Salute church, while the other side of the terrace belongs to the Restaurant Club Del Doge, which makes for a unforgetable gastronomical journey on the Canal Grande. An added bonus is that the terrace faces the south, so it gets sun all day long.
- Whether it is a romantic, candle light dinner or a gathering of the world’s most refined guests, the stunning location on the Grand Canal and warm interior atmosphere make the hotel’s Restaurant Club Del Doge the ultimate place to meet in Venice.
- Set within the Sala Epicurea, The Gritti Epicurean School is a Venetian open kitchen that since 1975 has hosted the social elite of Venice and international guests for wine tastings, cooking workshops and celebrations. The cooking school continues to be a place to learn, taste and celebrate, offering a journey into indigenous culinary experiences.
- The staff is without any doubt the most friendly staff that I ever met at an Italian hotel. They have always treated me like royalty on every single occasion that I stayed at the property (even if I am just an ordinary citizen). Kudos to all of them.
- An intimate wellness haven in the most refined Italian style, the Blu Mediterraneo SPA by Acqua di Parma, offers complete relaxation, indulgent massages and pampering beauty treatments after a day of exploring la Serenissima.
- Over the years, The Gritti Palace has welcomed many famous guests. Ernest Hemingway was one of the first guests. Churchill, De Gaulle, Chaplin, Garbo, Stravinsky, Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Orson Welles, and Frank Lloyd Wright have all stayed here on multiple occasions. During the summer openings of the Venice Biennale and the annual film festival, the Gritti remains a favorite base for art-world and Hollywood celebrities, from Angelina Jolie and Woody Allen to Robert De Nior to Tom Ford.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
The Gritti Palace is not just an ordinary luxury hotel. It is one of the world’s most celebrated hotels. It is one of the most iconic, exclusive, historic, ravishingly romantic places to stay not just in Venice but in any city you care to mention. Yet, there are some things you need to know when you consider a stay here:
- The hotel is very expensive, which is somewhat understandable since the Gritti Palace is one of the world’s most famous and exclusive hotels. Room rates are above $1000 USD per night in high seasons, although you can score a free night here by making a booking with Starwood points (cf tips below).
- Food & beverages, while excellent, are exorbitantly priced (starters around 30 euros; main courses around 60 euros; a soft drink will cost you 10 euros). Venice is very expensive, but it helpful to know that you can also have excellent 3 course dinners in Venice at some highly Michelin recommended restaurant nearby The Gritti Palace for less than 50 euros per person.
- The breakfast buffet is a bit limited for a hotel of this caliber. Continental breakfast will set you back 33 euros per person, and the buffet a whooping 53 euros, although you can avoid this cost when booking via Virtuoso (cf tips below).
- The decor of the hotel, with all its antiques, is overwhelming but in a very tasteful manner. However, if you prefer a trendy hotel, you’ll need to look somewhere else. But frankly, why would you want that in a city like Venice?
- Since the hotel reopened, a spectacular and large rooftop (with hot tub) was added to the property. Unfortunately, it is a private rooftop, belonging to the hotel’s most expensive suite, the Redentore Terrazza Suite, so you will only have access to it when you book this particular suite. Unfortunately, the suite that comes with the rooftop is totally underwhelming & dark (with very small windows). In addition, it is beyond my comprehension why the hotel management did not decide to open up that amazing space to all their hotel guests as it would make their property unbeatable in terms of competition as no other hotel in Venice offers this kind of rooftop space.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 9/10
- Pool: not applicable
- Resort grounds: not applicable
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 8/10
- Breakfast: 8/10
- Spa: 9/10
- Service: 9/10
- Value for money: 8/10
- Overall experience: excellent: 8,5/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like the Gritti Palace (and/or receive many free perks).
- Save money: enjoy free VIP amenities when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, $100 USD food & beverage credit, early check-in, and late check-out).
- Save money: book your room with an additional 20% off making use of a Best Rate Guarantee.
- Prebook your transfer from Venice Airport to the hotel. A private transfer in a speed boat, over the lagoon and through the small canals of Venice, is the way to arrive at the hotel. I booked a private water taxi (100 euros) using this website and I was extremely pleased with their service. It is not just an airport-to-hotel transfer, but a memorable sightseeing journey through Venice’s canals that is worth the money.
- Starwood Preferred Guests (SPG) with Gold or Platinum status are well treated, with – amongst other benefits – free high-speed WiFi, complementary room upgrade (when available), early check-in or late check-out (when available), and free breakfast (SPG platinum). Click here to read my review of the SPG program (with pros & cons).
- 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 page is great to find out 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.