Italy: Venice: Where to Stay: Luxury: Bauer Il Palazzo
Bauer Il Palazzo
Among the last family-owned hotels in Venice and the only one run by a woman, the Bauer Il Palazzo offers a more authentic grand Venetian experience than any other property in the city. (Its sister hosteleries are the adjoining five-star Bauer Hotel, in a modern wing, which is popular with high-end group tours and the Palladio Hotel & Spa and Villa F, both on Guidecca.)
Il Palazzo occupies a gorgeous 18th-century mansion on the Grand Canal facing Giudecca and the Santa Maria della Salute church. Francesca Bortolotto Possati, whose grandfather bought the hotel in the 1940s, has painstakingly incorporated all the modern luxuries that today’s traveler expects while preserving its Venetian heritage. The hallways have been painted with crushed marble using an ancient technique; the suites and rooms feature restored trompe l’oeil ceilings, silk wall coverings and curtains from venerable Venetian fabric houses and delicate gilt furniture. Even the bedside lamps have Murano-glass bases and traditional Venetian paper shades.
Of Il Palazzo’s seventy-two rooms, thirty-eight are suites, and each is unique and lusciously Venetian. Rubelli fabrics cover one-of-a-kind antiques, and hand-blown Murano chandeliers cast a soft glow. The best rooms are, of course, those with a view of the Grand Canal. The Royal Suite, on the second floor, has marble floors, frescoed ceilings, fabric-covered walls and antiques. Its balcony has some of the best front-row seats from which to observe life passing by on the canal. The Presidential Suite, on the top floor, is more modern in feeling and has a private wraparound terrace that looks out towards the Giudecca. This is Old World elegance in all its glory, which modern hipsters may not relate to. However, those with refined taste and an appreciation of authentic historic surroundings, such as actor Jeremy Irons, Sting and actress Catherine Deneuve, make this their home in Venice. In fact, the majority of Il Palazzo’s guests are repeat visitors who, once they experience its level of service, wouldn’t dream of staying anywhere else in town.
Indagare Tip: Room No. 106 faces the Grand Canal and has glorious painted ceilings.
Editor’s Note: Travelers looking to dip their toe into old-world Venetian glamour may choose from more contemporary rooms on floors 2-8 in Il Palazzo’s side-annex. While still true to the property’s Baroque styling, many of these rooms have parquet floors, mirrored furniture, balconies or terraces, for a vibe that is slightly closer to Bauer’s Art Deco Hotel next door. ~BH April 2012— Elizabeth Helman Minchilli 06/11/2007