The Gritti Palace is nothing short of a Venetian institution. During the city's big-name events - the Venice Biennale, Venice Film Festival, et al. - the global beau monde fills the rooms of this 15th-century palazzo. And it's no surprise. The Gritti stands proudly opposite the famous Santa Maria della Salute church on the Grand Canal - you'll be hard-pressed to find a hotel with a better view.
The palazzo takes its name from the 16th-century Doge Andrea Gritti, though it was built in 1475. Thankfully for us, it became a hotel in 1895 and, after a £40 million revamp, entered the 21st century. Designer Chuck Chewning kept much of the hotel's original charm by way of antiques, Murano-glass chandeliers and frescoes - the only reminder that you're in today's world are subtle mod cons such as high-speed WiFi, good climate control (necessary during a scorching Venetian summer) and a state-of-the-art spa.
The Gritti Palace does not feel like your average Marriott, thanks to its well-preserved old-world charm and no-expenses-spared decor. No two rooms are alike, each varying in size and with its own medley of antiques, Rubelli fabrics, frescoes and Bang & Olufsen speakers. The bathrooms, clad tip-to-toe in coloured marble and stocked with Acqua di Parma toiletries, are equally opulent - some suites even have a bath in the main room. If you can, ask for a room or suite facing the Grand Canal, though the views from the others aren't too bad; they overlook a courtyard or a smaller, tributary canal. Top tip: bring an eye-mask as the light from the thermostat is a little bright.
What's for breakfast?
This is no quick pit stop. Eaten on the terrace (weather permitting), breakfast at The Gritti serves everything that you'd expect from a top-tier hotel. Begin with a small buffet of fresh juices, cheeses, cold cuts and pastries before ordering something more substantial from the kitchen. If you have a room facing the Grand Canal, you might be hard-pressed to leave that you opt for a private breakfast with the best view in town.
How about lunch and dinner?
The interiors of Club del Doge restaurant are as luxurious as any of the other rooms at The Gritti, though you can also choose to sit on the splendid terrace of the Bar Longhi. The menu has many Italian classics such as prosciutto e melone and also some great comfort eats - our club sandwich went down particularly well. The ingredients are high quality and many of the vegetables come from the hotel's private garden on an island in the lagoon. After something extra special? Chef Daniel Turco can whip up a bespoke tasting menu.
Is there a bar?
The Bar Longhi - or, more specifically, the terrace at Bar Longhi - is the place to see and be seen, especially during the Venice Film Festival and Biennale, when it's notoriously difficult to find a spot.
A strikingly modern spa in collaboration with Sisley Paris offers treatments in single and double suites at surprisingly reasonable prices (a full-leg wax is €55). After a session on the Technogym equipment, we like letting off steam in the hammam.
The concierge is very responsive and can help you source tickets for attractions ahead of your stay or snag tables in the best restaurants in town. Epicurean guests will want to check out the cooking classes at The Gritti Epicurean School, too.
Things you should know
The hotel invested in high-water protection, which makes it particularly resilient to flooding. Inside, you can hop from floor to floor via the lift. Six of the Gritti's rooms are adapted for those with disabilities.
Consider this more of a romantic getaway than the first choice for families; nothing here is specifically child-friendly. That being said, families are welcome and can stay in connecting rooms.
Within a short walk, you can find…
The ruckus of St Mark's Square is little more than a five-minute walk away, while you'll be on the Rialto Bridge in 15. A €2 gondola ride (there's a station next door) will also take you to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the church of Santa Maria della Salute.