The Gritti Palace
This 15th-century palazzo occupies one of the loveliest spots on the Grand Canal, looking across to the magnificent Salute church, and to the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, home to the Guggenheim Museum. Digital alarm-radios and televisions are the only things that spoil the illusion you are staying not in a hotel but in a 15th-century Venetian palazzo. Assuming your taste is for Venetian period splendour, this is about the worst you can say about the bedrooms. All are different but all are filled with precious antiques, paintings, frescoes, objets d’art and beautiful fabrics. Some have Grand Canal views.
The Clooneys opted to spend their wedding night in this 16th-century waterfront palazzo, which says it all. It’s on the Grand Canal, in the San Polo district and within a short walk of the Rialto Bridge. Guests can arrive by boat to enter by the formal ‘porta d’acqua’ into a vast, beamed reception with marble flooring and original frescos. Interiors wow with a trompe-l’oeil grand staircase, rococo ballroom, frescos, and salons with sumptuous Rubelli silk wall coverings. The wooden ‘altana’ is a small decked roof terrace for sunset drinks. Many of the bedrooms overlook the Grand Canal.
Hotel L’Orologio Venice
This stylish addition to Venice’s hotel scene with a minimal-retro feel is located on the Grand Canal, behind the marvellous Rialto produce market. This hotel is slick and contemporary, and its theme – orologio means ‘clock’ or ‘watch’ – not applied too heavy handedly. Not all rooms overlook the Grand Canal: specify when booking if you want a water view. The two-level Premium Suite has Grand Canal views and a wonderful Giò Ponti bedhead. The chic vintage-feel Bar L’O, with its marble fireplace and comfy leather armchairs and sofas, is located at canal level too.
The Westin Europa & Regina
With its spectacular Grand Canal frontage and classic Venetian décor, the five-star Europa & Regina is one of the grandes dames of the city’s accommodation scene. The marbled halls with their gilt-framed mirrors, spectacular chandeliers and geometric floors are impressively grand without being forbidding. For the full Serenissima experience, opt for one of the 28 Grand Canal-facing rooms, preferably one of the fourth-floor ones with terraces and an extraordinary view. And what better way to start the day than sitting down to breakfast on the terrace with the water lapping beneath your feet and the sun glinting off the water?
Hotel Palazzo Stern
Most hotels with Grand Canal-side terraces come with five-star price tags. Palazzo Stern is the exception, mixing boutique charm with a superb location. The hotel is in a Belle Époque palazzo and has a delightful faux-Gothic air. A roof terrace with whirlpool tub has views to the Dolomites: the perfect place to propose? There’s also a gorgeous terrace on the Grand Canal and complimentary use of the hotel’s vintage wooden boat for clients who reserve directly. Superior rooms and suites have waterfront views. In warmer months, breakfast is a joy as you can watch the traffic chugging across the canal from the terrace.
The five-star 50-room Centurion Palace looks across the Grand Canal towards San Marco from the quieter, artsy Dorsoduro district. It’s Gothic outside and contemporary inside, combining style and warmth. Suites combine antique features with contemporary design – striking colours, huge mirrors and bathrooms in burnished gold leaf. Not all of them face the Grand Canal, so make sure you specify what you want when booking. The breakfast buffet is very generous, and the calmly minimalist Antinoo restaurant has water views and a pan-Italian gourmet menu.
The Bauer Palazzo offers old-fashioned elegance, fabulous Grand Canal views, a memorable restaurant serving modern Italian cuisine, and an unbeatable location just moment’s from St Mark’s Square. The hotel is sandwiched between Campo San Moisé and the entrance to the Grand Canal. It consists of two adjoining, but distinctly different, palazzo – one Art Deco, containing the spacious marble-clad lobby and a grand staircase that wouldn’t look out of place on an ocean liner, and another 19th-century faux Gothic edifice, which holds De Pisis, the main restaurant, and Settimo Cielo, a glorious rooftop terrace.
Palazzo Sant’Angelo sul Canal Grande
In a glorious setting on the Grand Canal within easy walking distance of major sights – and with a vaporetto stop right outside if walking isn’t your thing. The canal-facing bar is a good place to enjoy your evening spritz and a marvellous place to soak in Venetian ambience. A private landing jetty on the Grand Canal means guests who opt for the luxury of water-taxi travel can make film-star entrances and exits. Rooms are decorated alike in a dark red and gold colour scheme, which is attractive in the bigger, brighter (and more expensive) canal-facing rooms, and there are marble-lined bathrooms.
NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci
The location is a major selling point of this four-star addition to the Spanish NH hotel group – on the Grand Canal, within easy walking distance from the sights, right beside a vaporetto stop yet tucked away in a quiet corner. Old photos of Venice from the Alinari collection and some striking pieces of Murano glass bring a touch of the city into the place. A smart courtyard-garden giving on to the campo out the back is a pleasant place for breakfast in warmer weather or for an aperitivo after a long day’s sightseeing. If you want a water view, specify when booking. Room 303 has a private terrace with breathtaking views along the Grand Canal to the Rialto.
Five-star Palazzo Venart boasts 18 extravagantly decorated rooms and suites that aim to challenge Venice’s accommodation grandes dames. Some rooms enjoy Grand Canal views; others have roof terraces. An inner courtyard shaded by magnolia trees and a pretty garden stretching down to the Grand Canal – where water taxis can pull up at a private dock – give Palazzo Venart an edge in this very urban city. The feel is luxe classic Venetian: rich colours, lush furnishings and great attention to detail with a quirky, extravagant edge. Four suites enjoy Grand Canal views.