With its enchanting canals, incredible art scene (both historic and contemporary), and mouth-watering cuisine, it’s no wonder La Serenissima is one of Italy’s most popular destinations. Sure, Venice gets crowded—and it may be slowly sinking—but we think that’s all the more reason to go while you still can. From an intimate Renaissance palazzo filled with antiques to a secluded resort on one of the lagoon’s outer islands, these are the hotels we’re dying to spend a night in.
Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel
Once the 15th-century home of Duke Andrea Gritti, this palace hotel is a piece of living history, and you can feel it as soon as you enter the lobby: heavily tasseled keys hang behind the front desk, oil paintings cover the walls, and even the smallest rooms feature antiques and Murano glass chandeliers. It's no wonder the hotel has played host to writers, artists, and movie stars including Peggy Guggenheim (who has a suite named after her) and Stanley Tucci. On warmer evenings, head to the hotel's outdoor Riva Lounge to sip an Aperol Spritz while watching gondolas pass by on the Grand Canal. The hotel even has its own Riva speedboat, which you can charter for tours of the lagoon's outer islands.
Belmond Hotel Cipriani
Set on the island of Giudecca, a five-minute boat ride from Piazza San Marco, the Belmond Hotel Cipriani has a rich history tied to the story of Venice itself. The hotel’s founder Giuseppe Cipriani is best known as the owner of Harry’s Bar and the inventor of the Bellini. We’d be hard-pressed to think of a better way to spend an afternoon than sipping one of the bubbly peach-flavored cocktails alfresco at Cip’s Club or the Gabbiano Bar by the Olympic-size pool (the largest in central Venice). Cocktails aside, the millennial-pink hotel oozes Italian romance, with classic décor in the rooms and suites, tranquil Casanova gardens (where the legendary author once wooed his lovers), and the Michelin-starred Oro restaurant renovated by acclaimed designer Adam D. Tihany.
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If the Aman Venice is good enough for George and Amal Clooney’s wedding, it’s good enough for us. The luxurious hotel, set in a 16th-century palazzo on the Grand Canal, features original frescoes by Tiepolo, gilded boiserie, and sumptuous chandeliers. Each of the 24 rooms and suites was individually designed with contemporary furniture, which creates a chic contrast with the building's historic architecture. The hotel is known for arranging exclusive experiences; ask the concierge about the possibility of seeing an opera in Aman’s private box at La Fenice or a chef-led shopping excursion to the Rialto Market.
Baglioni Hotel Luna
You can't get more centrally located than Baglioni Hotel Luna, which sits on a side street just off Piazza San Marco. The former palace dates back to the 12th century and is reputedly Venice’s oldest hotel. Inside, hand-painted frescoes, elaborate stucco work, period antiques, and Murano glass chandeliers lend the property a grandiose sense of place. We love dining at both Salone Marco Polo, where breakfast is served beneath an epic ceiling fresco, and Canova, which specializes in Venetian classics like fritto misto with fresh seafood.
San Clemente Palace Kempinski
Itching for a tranquil city escape with all the amenities of a full-service resort? The San Clemente Palace Kempinski is the only hotel on San Clemente Island, where lush landscaped gardens, a heated outdoor swimming pool, and tennis courts make for a leisurely vacation away from the crowds. Typical Venetian terrazzo floors, refined wallpaper, and luxurious marble bathrooms lend the interiors an elegant, classic style, while all of the property’s 190 rooms and suites have views of the lagoon. When you do decide to go to the main island, a complimentary water taxi leaves the hotel every half hour and docks at Piazza San Marco.
A perennial favorite on Venice’s party circuit, Palazzina G is a hotspot for A-listers, especially during the Venice Biennale. Madonna, Angelina Jolie, James Franco, and countless others have walked its halls, and Johnny Depp stayed in one of the suites for three months while filming The Tourist. This is one of the more modern hotels in Venice thanks a whimsical design by French visionary Philippe Starck, who created carnival-inspired lamps and added fun touches like Fornasetti prints and animal sculptures. Come nightfall, head to the Krug Terrace to sip champagne while taking in the views of the Grand Canal.
Palazzo Venart may be one of Venice’s newest luxury hotels, but it boasts a long and storied history. Originally built on the Grand Canal in the 15th century, the palazzo was a gathering place for 18th-century aristocrats (their parties were depicted in frescoes restored by a team of artisans during the hotel’s two-year renovation). The property is filled with precious antiques, gilded mirrors, and Rubelli silk curtains that recall its golden age—but the hotel’s glamor isn’t all about the past. The property gardens feature contemporary art by native Venetian Anna Paola Cibin, and the restaurant GLAM serves modern takes on regional classics courtesy of promising young chef Enrico Bartolini, whose previous restaurant in Milan earned two Michelin stars.
JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa
The JW Marriott Venice's clean-lined modern redesign by acclaimed Italian architect Matteo Thun represents a swift departure from Venice’s typical antiques-heavy taste. This is a great option for families who want to spread out: set on a private island called Isola delle Rose, the hotel features four restaurants, from casual dining at Cucina Daily to Michelin-starred eats at Dopolavoro Dining Room, and the city's largest spa. Any foodies in the group? Guests can sign up for a lesson in Italian delicacies at the onsite Sapori Cooking Academy.