The Venice Venice Hotel Venice Suite

The Venice Venice Hotel
Venice, Italy


The storied city of Venice has a timeless, old-world allure. Many of its grand, luxury hotels play right into this sense of place, offering up embellished sophistication and refinement as expected. But the posterchildren of a new Venice are keen to disrupt and shake up the way hospitality is done in ‘La Serenissima’ with The Venice Venice Hotel. It’s a Venetian pallazo hotel with a difference, birthing a renewed sense of avant-garde, alongside burgeoning creativity and futurism.

Chiselled male models (and we’re not talking about Fabio Viale’s exquisite Pietà statues) in designer Italo-Scandi uniforms welcomed us off our water taxi at the atmospheric entrance of this re-envisioned 13th-century Byzantine palazzo, just moments from the iconic Ponte di Rialto. It’s a remarkable location, at the very confluence of Venice life – the bridge was built on foundations dating back to the 12th century and was the only fixed structure that spanned the Grand Canal for some 700 years – a place where the city’s heritage, society and commerce has entwined for innumerable generations. It’s a term overused in travel writing to say that somewhere is the ‘heart of the city’, but here, that is true.

Convergence is the theme at The Venice Venice Hotel. Art, architecture, design, fashion, gastronomy and music scenes collide spectacularly in this contemporary concept property. It has been lovingly restored, no, modernised, or rather, ‘futurised’ by the team behind the globally acclaimed Golden Goose fashion brand, into a hub quickly redefining hospitality in Venice, or dare we even say, Venice itself.

At the sotoportego level was Venice M’Art, featuring the hotel’s bar-restaurant and its sunlit Grand Canal pontoon terrace where we took long, delicious breakfasts of fresh strawberries, flaky, buttery cornettos and lagoon lobster Benedicts as we watched the world float by. It was also a great place for aperitivo and cicchetti (Venetian tapas).

Adorned on the walls that led to an open kitchen were black and white portrait photography of the individual, local market traders who supply the hotel with produce – a fitting tribute, or perhaps even a ruse to psyche the restaurant’s chefs into always being on their A-game!

The piano nobile of any palazzo is all about welcoming and entertaining distinguished guests and this was no different at The Venice Venice Hotel. The hugely proportioned floor constitutes an inviting lobby and lounge area, dotted with contemporary twists on Italian mid-century modern furnishings.

And of course, because we were in Biennale-land, there’s an immaculately curated contemporary art collection. We were in awe of Pol Polloniato’s mirror, commissioned specifically for the hotel. It is made from five-century-old clay from the foundations of the palazzo and ceramicist Antonibon’s original 18th-century moulds. We also marvelled at Renato Dagostin’s eye-catching monochromatic prints, while the friendly (and again, incredibly good looking… the founders’ fashion sensibility clearly informs its recruitment policy) front-of-house team called the ‘Dream Builders’ expertly checked us in and provided us with tips of things to do, over fresh espresso pulled from the Faema coffee machine that sat proudly on the reception counter.

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While you’re Out There
In the creative enclave that is Venice M’art, there’s an exhibition area and a shady courtyard surrounded by a coffee shop and gelateria, as well as several fantastic retail spaces: an art and design store, a womenswear boutique and the contemporary outfitters, eRose store and Golden Goose concession (of course), styled and visually merchandised like a 1960s minimart, with butcher’s counter and slide-top freezers included. It’s perfect for souvenirs. Bring your credit card.

When sunset falls, the entire floor is transformed into a buzzing party hub – the Venice Bitter Club – that touts modern-day, Renaissance-style revelry. The high-society rags will show you pictures of the arty and fashion parties held in the space, although on the low-season weekend in April that we were there, the place was rather sleepy; quiet even for a post-dinner nightcap. Its ‘by invitation feel’ vibe and the way the property is oriented means that non-guests have to know that it’s there, so it’ll be rare for the average Venice tourist to wander in, even from Venice M’Art below. This plays into its exclusivity but doesn’t do much for the atmosphere. The centrepiece of the Venice Bitter Club is a jet-black LED screen and speaker-encrusted titanium bar, akin to an arcade game. It is flanked by rich, tapestry-cloaked walls, fashioned by contemporary artist Francesco Simeti, all under a restored original palazzo ceiling and mammoth arched windows overlooking the Grand Canal, which was pretty fabulous.

Our suite, no 51 – one of just over forty opulent, art-laden and individual rooms – was a serene, but mammoth 63 sqm/678 sqft, with a Juliet balcony overlooking the Grand Canal and Rialto Bridge. A king canopy bed and a contemporary, freestanding bath melded seamlessly into the modern Italianisimmo furnishings on a cool, polished concrete floor.

With their pedigree in counter-cultural design, you can only imagine that everything in our room was flamboyantly developed by the hotel’s own studio (to a design ethos they call ‘postvenezianità’): purchased, commissioned, produced and placed with thought-through precision, comfort and charm. It’s almost hard to express the meticulous attention to detail that has gone into putting together each room here.

The amenities – in fact, pretty much everything – were house-branded under the hotel’s signature ERose trademark, complete with a manga-style bleeding rose logo (said to be ‘a tribute to beauty, a token of legendary promises of love not to be broken’). We started to find the overt branding overkill, as it was everywhere we looked and on everything we touched… teetering on corporate, which The Venice Venice Hotel is far from being. There was also a penchant to over-describe everything in an arty-farty fashion, which sometimes came across as rather contrived. After all, this is more of a hotel and less of an art gallery.

The eclectic art and photography were selected by curator, restorer and Venetian heritage aficionado Toto Bergamo Rossi. There was even a little map to guide us around the in-suite selection. Lighting and other soft touches were contemporary interpretations of the old Venetian style, matching the faded original frescos on the wall. There were some whimsical touches: an imposing triple vanity mirror, an alcove terrace with a sculptural table and a Yeti Tundra cooler that doubled up as a luggage rack. The complimentary minibar was stocked full of treats, the bathroom amenities packaged in sustainable, miniature aluminium ring-pull cans and poster paint tubes, and a curated playlist of mood-enhancing soundtracks was always available at a flick of a switch.

The best room in the house – bar the standalone private ‘villa’-style property in the adjacent building with its own water-taxi entrance – is The Venice Suite, a gargantuan split-level luxury home occupying some 190 sqm/2,045 sqft. Light poured in through its immense windows overlooking, you guessed it, the Grand Canal, offering the same view that Venetian painter Canaletto saw in 1728 when he stayed here. It inspired him to produce his infamous painting of the vista. The other top art suites in the house are also in this building, which has a private entrance for the glitterati.

The Venice Venice Hotel is unexpected, and that’s what we loved most about it. But it’s not for everyone. Many come to the city looking for white-gloved, archetypal white-marble, Murano chandeliered, luxury hotels. That, The Venice Venice is not. But the hotel turns the traditional idea of luxury and opulence in the city on its head, cannily blending the past, present and most certainly the future to extraordinary effect.

Photography courtesy of The Venice Venice Hotel

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