AMAN CANAL GRANDE VENICE, ITALY
Indonesian hotelier, Adrian Zecha, has made his name excelling in the art of subtlety. Interesting, then, that the CEO of the luxury Aman Resorts group has chosen a flamboyant 16th-century Venetian palazzo in the San Polo district to house his latest venture in, his first in a European city.
From the original 18th-century frescoed ceilings painted by master artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (there are three in the palazzo in total) to the oversized Murano chandeliers that dominate the upper floor salons, Palazzo Papadopoli – the home of Aman Canal Grande – is simply shocking in its grandeur. But most impressive still is how Zecha has successfully married his pared-back style to such utterly splendid surroundings.
Contemporary, low-slung furniture is by the maestros of minimalism, B&B Italia, and most of the 24 suites have a simple, monochrome palette. Guests arrive by stylish water taxi direct to the original porta d’aqua where you’ll find no Aman signage (in fact there is no Aman branding throughout the hotel). It all combines to be the perfect contrast to the gilded cherubs, the ornate cornices and rich paintings and it also gives you the rather splendid feeling that instead of checking into a hotel, you are instead the guest of a (very) grand house-owner.
It turns out that this is not too far from the truth, for living in the top floor apartments are the owners of the palazzo – Count Giberto Arrivabene and his wife Bianca. They agreed to rent the property to Aman on the condition they could still live in it and so you are likely to find them curled up on a sofa, or rubbing shoulders with guests in the bar.
Another exceptional quality of the Aman is the fact that it boasts two inner gardens, so rare for properties in this city. On the fifth floor, you’ll also discover a secret, traditional altana platform looking out over the rooftops and waterways. It’s perfect for giving a unique perspective on this most fabulous city.
The cuisine. Venetian classics such as squid ink risotto are sublime but par for the course. The Thai menu is the surprising highlight here.
The Alcova Tiepolo Suite has to be one of the most stunning hotel rooms in the world. From the charming sitting room with its restored chinoiserie murals to the powder blue bedroom in which you lie under a Tiepolo fresco – this is a heavenly place to be.
THE NOT SO GOOD:
The Spa is little more than three treatment rooms and feels a bit like an after-thought.
The pricing. Heaven is a costly place – the Alcova Tiepolo suite is an eye-watering €3,500 a night.
This hotel stays with you and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you have a special occasion coming up, then save your pennies – The Aman Canal Grande is worth it.
Aman Canal Grande, Palazzo Papadopoli, Calle Tiepolo 1364, Sestiere San Polo, Venezia 30125, Italy. (00 800 2255 2626; amanresorts.com)
Scenes from Venice…
A version of my article appears in this month’s BA High Life magazine (November) and is also on the BA High Life website online here.