Tucked round the back of the Palazzo Grassi gallery in a 16th-century palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal, the Palazzo Grassi is tough to find unless you’re pulling up at the hotel’s private water entrance. But though it’s down a tiny backstreet, it’s handy for the San Samuele vaporetto stop, and the 15-minute walk to St Mark’s is very pleasant.
The Palazzina has just 26 rooms, including five suites with water views that I had trouble tearing myself away from; five junior suites open out on to their private piece of a terrace with views across the city’s rooftops. Standard doubles are smaller than you might expect at these rates, and bathrooms, though in keeping with the designer tone, are cramped. Décor in all the bedrooms is starkly Starck, with ceiling-to-floor mirrors: be prepared to see a lot of yourself. Enveloped in such relentless design, I found the traditional Venetian terrazzo flooring very comforting.
The ambience in the public areas here is intimate and – oddly for Starck – decidedly warm. The long, low, ground-floor salon-bar with its towering columns and open-to-view kitchen from where breakfast is dispensed at any time of day is a comfy (if uber-stylish) retreat: for me, sofas strewn with woolly rugs looked like an invitation to curl up for a drink and a chat. Huge custom-made Murano glass chandeliers and wall-fittings like crystal explosions of wildly waving seaweed ensure you don’t forget that the exuberant Frenchman was behind the décor. Another smaller canal-side room, reserved for hotel guests and selected VIP membership card holders, is more elegantly cosy.
Eating and drinking
The open-to-view kitchen in the ground-floor bar will whip up goodies at any hour. The à la carte breakfast can be served anywhere you like around the property.
Who stays there
Johnny Depp made this his base for weeks when he was in Venice shooting The Tourist in spring 2010. Mr and Mrs Brad Pitt have also been spotted here. It’s perfect for a romantic get-away for stylish travellers.
- High-Speed Internet
- Pets Allowed
- Room Service
- Culture vultures
- Celebrity spotting
- Design and architecture
Pros & Cons
- The Palazzina is very very glam, and the public lounge is very striking (you can drop in for a drink even if you’re not staying here)
- I found myself wishing I had a degree in electronic engineering to work the light switches
- The Palazzina Grassi is seriously expensive and unless you’re staying in one of the suites, you may feel that you’re paying too much for a somewhat dark, cramped room