In a prime location on the long, long Adriatic-facing beach of the Lido island, the Excelsior is a superb example of a classic luxury bathing resort. Of course, the Lido is a half-hour boat ride from Venice proper (the Excelsior has its own complimentary boat shuttle service) so it’s not ideal if you’re planning intensive sightseeing. But if you want good sports facilities, or just seaside luxury in flamboyant style, it’s perfect.
The Excelsior has 197 rooms and suites: make sure you secure one of the sea-facing ones for the full classic beach-resort experience. There is a bit of an air of faded grandeur in some of the rooms and public areas, especially now that the hotel is counting down to a major revamp. But despite everything, I find the Moorish-influenced décor (the Brighton Pavilion-style doorways are wonderful) and extravagant use of rich colours totally charming.
The lobby, bar and poolside terrace are all fittingly grand, and there's a stretch of private beach.
Eating and drinking
The hotel’s La Taverna restaurant is eye-wateringly expensive and really nothing to write home about. Food is also served by the pool and down on the Excelsior’s private beach. There are bars – inside and out – to match your every mood.
Unlike hotels in Venice proper, the Excelsior is able to offer a good range of sports and fitness activities. There’s a large and very glamorous pool, clay tennis courts, a fitness centre, a stretch of private beach complete with glorious (but hugely expensive) Death in Venice-style beach huts and access to the 18-hole golf course a short way away at Alberoni beach.
I find the service here rather frosty but it is, on the whole, very professional.
Who stays there
Come (if you can get a booking) during the Film Festival in August-September and you’ll find a variegated crowd of A-list celebs, movie moguls, security staff and all the usual hangers-on. For the rest of the season – and bear in mind the Excelsior is only open from April to October – the hotel is popular with honeymooning couples, families hoping that the sports facilities and beach will keep the children amused, and lovers of old-style luxury travel.
- Business Centre
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Pets Allowed
- Room Service
- Swimming Pool
- Families with teenagers
- Families with younger children
- Sporty types
- Celebrity spotting
- Great views / scenery
Pros & Cons
- A luxury establishment with all the five-star trimmings
- On the Lido, a half-hour’s boat ride from Venice proper
- Major restoration in a couple of years’ time so little in the way of maintenance seems to be being done