After my incredible experience in Florence with Starwood at the St. Regis and Westin Excelsior, both part of the Best City Experiences and The Ultimate 10 categories in the 2014 Member Favorites list, I just couldn’t imagine how a trip to Venice could compete. It’s funny what happens though, when you just don’t think it can possibly get any better…….Spoiler alert: it does!!!!! When I opened up the windows in my room at The Gritti Palace, my view was the photo at the top of the post. Looking right at Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute!!
Uh, yeah. I just didn’t have any words for a long time. I was struck completely speechless. I stood there and listened to the sounds of the Grand Canal, the singing gondoliers, the diners down below on the terrace. And I was sure I was in a dream that I didn’t want to wake up from…..
But I’m jumping ahead of myself. I should start at the beginning!!
I arrived via First Class train from Florence and there was already a Private Hostess Transfer was waiting for me on the platform ensuring that I never again had to touch my luggage until I arrived in my room. We made our way out of Santa Lucia stazione and into a waiting taxi (which is a boat in Venice of course) where I promptly made my way to the rear so that I could feel the wind in my hair as we maneuvered down the Grand Canal and through the smaller waterways to The Gritti Palace. I don’t smile with my teeth showing often, but trust me, if you can’t tell from the look on my face — I was in travel nirvana mode. Couldn’t have been happier unless I had had a glass of champagne in my hand.
When we arrived, I was very promptly checked in by a special concierge for SPG members and whisked up to my room on the third floor, still never touching my bags, where that view (again, obviously I loved it since I can’t stop talking about it) stunned me speechless. And then I couldn’t wipe the grin off my face.
Once I came down off that high, I was equally impressed with my opulent room.
From fresh flowers (my favorite roses) to Acqua di Parma bath products, to a warm bathrobe, to my VERY favorite bottled water (S. Pellegrino of course, and it was free), to a standalone tub in my room, to the bed that felt like falling into a piece of heaven, to the walls that were covered in Lorenzo Rubelli SILK — I felt like a princess in my own Venetian palace. All that was missing was a mask and ball gown.
I also loved my room key, an ornate metal fob with tassels that seemed perfectly chosen to compliment the hotel and remind the guest about that little word, ‘palace’ in the title!
After tearing myself away from my cozy and sumptuous room it was time to explore the city with a culinary tour and I loved that I was easily able to catch the city’s water taxi literally right next to the Gritti Palace. So convenient!
Walking back during the day or at night it was always lovely because the area around the Gritti is alive with activity, being so close to St. Mark’s square.
When I woke up on my first full day in Venice, I threw open the shutters and marveled again at how incredible it was to look out directly onto the Grand Canal and over to the stunning Santa Maria della Salute. The way the early morning light catches it in Venice is truly something spectacular to behold.
Not wanting to lose the view, of course I enjoyed breakfast downstairs on the floating terrace in front of the Gritti where the view was as stunning and the beautiful blue and white striped coffee mugs made me feel as if I was drinking an abnormally luxurious cappuccino. Although I suppose a cappuccino is really just a cappuccino! The hotel offers a wonderful buffet and an ala carte menu and I really enjoyed the fact that I could get an arugula salad with my eggs, cooked perfectly overeasy just the way I love them. A complimentary newspaper completed the wonderful start to my day and every morning I was tempted to linger for far longer than need be. Especially because the service is so good in the restaurant and when the gondoliers passed by (which happened often), singing to their guests as they went it just felt like a dream I didn’t want to walk away from.
Still, Venice awaited. Needing to be discovered and photographed. So I was very happy when the concierge at the Gritti was able to help me find my way to the boat I needed in order to get to the island of Burano and was also able to recommend local places to eat that would not disappoint.
Later in my stay I was given a tour of the incredible rooftop terrace. It’s actually the only private rooftop terrace at a hotel in the whole city. One that has a pool / hot tub, outdoor living room and a spectacular dining area to host lavish dinner parties. Access to it comes included with the Terrazza Redentore Suite and the elevator can be programmed to access only the Terrazza Redentore Suite and terrace for the ultimate in privacy.Sometimes at lunch I enjoyed a glass of wine and a light lunch on the terrace. In the evenings, I enjoyed the signature Bellini and Spritz cocktails that the Gritti and Venice herself are known for. The best versions I had of course being at the Gritti. It was so fun to sit and sip my drinks in the opulently renovated Bar Longhi with its Murano glass, or outside on the terrace on the Grand Canal, watching the other patrons, people from almost every region of the world at one time or another. And I learned a little too late in my trip about the Gritti Epicurean School, where I could have taken cooking lessons with the head chef. So now I know something I will want to do next time! In addition to a visit to the spa of course!
When I had to finally check out and leave? A private boat transfer straight to the Venice airport and an escort all the way to security so I again didn’t have to worry about my bags.
All in all it was quite easy to understand how the Gritti Palace was voted to be part of the Best City Experiences and The Ultimate 10 categories in the 2014 Member Favorites list, by the voting members of SPG. As a member myself, I’ll be proud to vote next year, knowing that I’ve now been a guest at Gritti and knowing that it lives up to the hype of what a grand dame “palace” of Venezia should be like. The property has every modern convenience a guest could possibly want and yet if you squint there are moments where you could completely miss that you’re in the 21st century. The feeling of opulence and luxury is very old world Venice in the best ways possible and it’s so conveniently located!!
Every year, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) releases its Member Favorites list, showcasing hotels and resorts that are top-rated by SPG members. I was hired by SPG to visit these properties in Florence and Venice to share my findings with you as a new way of showcasing those that made the list as Best City Experiences and The Ultimate 10 for 2014. You can also find out more by exploring with the #spglife hashtag on any social network. As always when I work with destinations and brands, all opinions and full editorial control are still my own.