We were in Venice for a wedding and since there’s nothing like riding on the coat-tails of someone else’s romance we decided to extend our trip, with a stay at the Aman Resort Venice and the Gritti Palace.
Whilst I ordinarily abhor the concept of ‘romantic getaways’ – red roses make me queasy and candlelit dinners fill me with panic; the one accoutrement of commercialised romance I can get down with, is the 5 star hotel.
The addictions of “Aman-junkies” are prodigious – but I’ve always put that down to artful marketing and workshy travel journalists singing the praises of five star freebies. So preparing to be disappointed, I booked the Aman. Because let’s face it, the alternatives were hammy Venetian palazzos more reminiscent of Caffè Concerto than the opulent palaces of Venice’s past.
The Disneyfication of travel is all well and good – if you’re a kid, or from Texas. But personally, I’d pay good money not to be surrounded by gilded paper mache and kitschy old master reproductions of old men with their knobs out. This is precisely what the Aman offered, at a princely sum of €1,350 per night for a basic Palazzo bedroom. This certainly puts it amongst the most expensive luxury hotels in Venice. But to my pleasant surprise, it turned out to be worth every penny.
Aman Venice – Location, Location, Location
You don’t need Kirstie and Phil (or me for that matter) to tell you that it’s all about location. Just like London’s Leicester Square is the favoured stomping ground of out-of-town hen parties and sex tourists, Venice’s St Mark’s Square is a multicultural morass of pigeons, pickpockets and selfie-stick salesman.
It’s not the real Venice. It’s not even a representation of Venice. There’s no romance or mystery, just thousands of people, bored shitless, wondering what all the fuss is about.
The Aman Venice is a wonderful antidote to this. Whilst still in the centre, it is a magical 15 minute walk from St Mark’s. Overlooking the Grand Canal, the hotel is considered one of the finest Venetian palaces – designed by Gian Giancomo di Grigi in the 16th century and sympathetically restored to its former glory a few years ago. The interiors are nothing short of incredible..
And there’s the thing. The Aman is only a 24 room hotel. It could have gone the way of other Venetian properties and converted every inch of usable space into rooms and suites. Instead, it chose to keep it’s breathtaking drawing rooms, ballrooms and libraries as public spaces. So unlike other luxury hotels in Venice, you don’t need to book a suite to roll like a doge and enjoy the majesty of Giandomenico Tieopolo’s original frescos or the gilded 16th century carvings.
In a strange sort of sorcery the Aman achieves the impossible in not feeling like a hotel. For one, even when the hotel is full, as it was during our stay, it feels seriously quiet. We didn’t spend much time in our room. Instead devouring dry spritz-al-bitter (Campari rather than Aperol) in the Aman Venice bar, playing chess, and taking selfies with the museum grade furniture. I even found time to work in the library with its magnificent 18th Century walnut burr bookcase and walls upholstered in 17th century Cordova leather.
Aman Venice Rooms
One of the obstacles I encounter when travelling is that I’m an irredeemable fault finder (or if you ask anyone else, a moaner and a giant pain in the arse). I’m particularly discriminating in questions of cleanliness, which to me is more than a passion. It’s a philosophy.
The cleanliness I’m talking about goes beyond bleached sterility; rather it is the purity of perfection, an exactly chopped cushion, surfaces unblemished by fingerprints, a subtle hint of scent, a triumph of visual order over chaos.
How did the rooms at the Aman fare in this respect? They aced every test.
We stayed in one of the basic Aman rooms (room 12) however, it was airy and spacious with the sort of minimalist contemporary design which breeds relaxation over frustration. The room was immaculate and the housekeeping impeccable, even done on the day we checked out.
Our windows looked out over one of the hotel’s gems – one of two private gardens that are so rare in Venice, the result of the 19th century demolition of adjoining buildings by the Papadopoli family (whose descendants are still resident in the palazzo, occupying the top floor).
Now, if Shakespeare’s Venetian paradigm is to be believed, real Venetians aren’t exactly a shy lot. Which may explain the complete absence of sound-proofing in our room. So whether it’s listening to a forty year old Italian speak to his Ma-Ma in the corridor, or less salubrious pursuits, remember, they can hear you and you can hear them.
Aman Venice Restaurant
It is a sad truth that most hotel restaurants deviate towards perfectly passable high-margin ordinariness – but not so in the Michelin starred restaurant at the Aman where the food was so good, that my eyes just about rolled back into their sockets. This isn’t a restaurant review, but if you happen to be in Venice – even if you don’t stay at the Aman, make sure you come here for dinner.
Conclusion – the Best Five Star Hotel in Venice
On our trip, we made a point to scope out the main 5 star Venetian hotels. And frankly, nothing came close to the Aman. So believe me when I tell you that, if budget is no object, it is hands down the finest hotel in Venice.