Il Palazzo Experimental, Venice, Italy

Il Palazzo Experimental, Venice, Italy

Overlooking the Giudecca Canal, the waterside Il Palazzo Experimental brings together original renaissance features, designer Dorothée Meilichzon’s sumptuous interiors and a creative cocktail bar with views across La Serenissima.

was in town for the city’s inaugural Nomad Circle symposium, a
travelling showcase for collectible design, that had been
excitingly timed with the much-awaited opening of Il Palazzo
Experimental, the latest offering from Parisian cocktail
bar-cum-hotelier group Experimental.

Fresh from Venice Film Festival and
evenings spent in the city’s most traditional palace hotels, I – a
hotel fetishist and often traditionalist – was suspicious about
this remodelled waterfront palazzo overlooking the Giudecca. The
idea of snuffing OG Venetian features put me on edge.

Yet as I stepped off the vaporetto at Zattere and entered the
hotel, all recent memories of 14th-century renaissance and rococo
furnishings disappeared in an instant. This Dorsoduro-district
hotel is captivating.

Its burgundy and olive fabrics nestle gently against Marmorino
plaster walls of blushed hues in elephant grey and off-white.
Painstakingly hand-laid terrazzo tiles pay homage to original
flooring while shiny pastel mosaics adorn the walls. Never before
has this design dinosaur found contemporary so spicy.


Candy-striped hallways and heavy doors with brass anchor
knockers lead to lovely boudoirs here. Soft-edged arches play
against pepper-flecked Breccia Capraia marble and rich upholstery:
dramatic dark headboards, silken-pinstripe cushioning, sage
curtains which fall from high ceilings. An old rotary telephone
sits on the bedside table, and there’s FM radio (read: Italian pop
classics) too. A large flatscreen television masquerades as a
mirror, while bidet-equipped showerrooms finished in marble and
chrome are kitted out with apothecary goodies from MALIN+GOETZ. Sì

What’s for breakfast?

A cold banquet laid out is, at first glance, modest, before you
realise that every ingredient is of the highest quality. There’s
fresh sourdough, pastries, Sicilian pecorino, feta, buffalo
mozzarella heavenly tomatoes, aubergine dip, boiled eggs. I eat a
freshly made mushroom omelette that will forever champion all other
omelettes, and wash it down with a strong coffee. As in all Italian
grand-dame hotels, prosecco and fresh orange juice can be found on

What about lunch and dinner?

The same glorious room (perhaps designer Dorothée Meilichzon’s
pièce de résistance) of booths and banquettes serves a small
daily-changing lunch menu by a twinkly-eyed chef. On one busy
afternoon during my stay, he whipped up some mini lamb-skewers,
arancini and a tomato salad for me.

By night, Ristorante Adriatica sees the Italian Supper Club
taking residence – regions of
, Emilia Romagna, Marche, Abruzzo, Molise, Puglia,
and, of course, Veneto are celebrated across an evolving menu.

Is there a bar?

The Experimental Group do not disappoint with a sleek and
contemporary Venetian bar (think: reimagined bellinis) in a space
designed by Cristina Celestino with a secret garden, looking out
onto the canal. Sip seltzers from Murano glass tumblers and then
get tipsy on the bartender’s recommended cocktails.

Coffee machines in Italian hotel rooms are like a heartbeat to
humans, and the general vibe at the hotel – teeming with
coffee-table books, design pieces, fashionistas, foodies and
classicists – is pulsating.

Things I should know…

Take time to wander the streets of Venice
on foot, and be sure to take home some glassware from a visit to
Murano island. Stop by the breathtaking Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel in
Cannaregio, an area of beauty and antiquity best reached by
electric riva boats – use Classic Boats Venice which restores
gorgeous old models, uses green energy, and supports campaigns such
as Plastic Free Venice Lagoon.

Within a short walk I can find…

The Peggy Guggenheim Museum. You can
peruse the plentiful souvenir shops to buy Murano-glass earrings. A
five-minute waterbus ride away is the excellent Le Stanze del
Vetro, which exhibits glassware on the island of San Giorgio