Aman Venice's 24 suites, many with canal views, feature an elegant blend of the past and present. // © 2016 Aman Venice
Feature image (above): The Grand Canal is reflected in the bow of a sleek motor yacht as it carries guests to Aman Venice (left). // © 2016 Aman Venice
When actor George Clooney sought an elegant, intimate Italian getaway for his 2014 wedding, he chose Aman Venice. But you don’t have to be Amal or George to feel like a star when staying at this standout hotel, which wows guests with its divine blend of past and present.
Built in 1550 as a palazzo (palace), the building was the home of a series of wealthy families over the centuries. It eventually caught the eye of Aman Resorts, which opened it as a 24-suite hotel in 2013 after an extensive renovation.
Today, from its perch beside the Grand Canal in Venice’s San Polo district, it provides a swanky spot from which to watch the city’s legendary parade of gondolas, working boats and vaporetti (water buses).
Arrive by Boat or Foot
Most guests reach the hotel by water, pulling up to its private dock in a 1930s-style motor yacht.
There’s also a pedestrian entrance on the opposite side of the building, unmarked except for a tiny sign by a gate. Only those in the know are admitted through the gate and into a grassy, tree-shaded courtyard, a rare oasis in the midst of Venice’s bustling streets and alleys.
Aman Venice’s general manager Claudia Schwarze describes the hotel as “a wonderful, warm home with generous and beautiful common areas.”
Travelers who stay at the property appreciate the Aman brand’s discretion and impeccable service, she said.
“Aman Venice is elegant in its simplicity,” Schwarze said. “We are not trying to create yesteryear, but instead to bring what was the essence of Venetian life and express it in today's Italy. At the same time, we want to respect the history and culture of this magical city.”
A Marriage of Past and Present
To set the tone for the timeless Aman Venice experience, arriving clients get a personal tour of the palace. As guests ascend a grand staircase to the upper floors, an ultra-friendly and efficient concierge points out original architectural and design touches, from gilded mirrors and marble busts to ceilings painted by 18th-century art great Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.
The hotel’s careful balance of old and new is immediately apparent in the guest suites. Period frescos and reliefs coexist with contemporary furnishings such as a flat-screen television, a docking station, an armoire with a personal bar and an oversized walk-in rain shower. Its five signature suites wow clients with details such as silk wall coverings and a chandelier in the bathroom.
Then, there are the hotel’s Yellow and Red dining rooms, a mix of 18th-century Baroque and modern-day minimalist design. Original chandeliers are contrasted by sleek furniture. In the hotel’s menus, award-winning chef Davide Oldani puts a hip spin on classic Italian cuisine with dishes such as caramelized onions paired with hot and cold Grana Padano (hard Italian cheese).
Like a memorable host, Aman Venice stands apart in several ways. It’s one of the only hotels in Venice with a spacious garden right next to the Grand Canal, an enviable setting for fashionable sips and snacks.
Another unique offering is its altana (a traditional Venetian terrace) that overlooks the city’s trademark terracotta rooftops. There, guests can enjoy breakfast or drinks and appetizers while savoring views of the Alps on a clear day.
The hotel has crafted a selection of experiences to help clients fall under the spell of Venice. Exclusive excursions range from a private, after-hours visit to the Doges Palace to a guided walking tour with an art expert.
New for 2016 is the Aman Venice Opera Series. Available only to hotel guests, it includes seats in Aman’s private box at Venice’s opera house as well as late-afternoon tea before — or dinner after — the performance; an aperitif or nightcap; and boat transfers.
While it’s hard to imagine calling an Italian palace one’s home, that’s exactly what happens at Aman Venice, where average travelers turn into VIPs.