At the risk of repeating myself, the reason to visit Venice is because of its old beauty and romance. In my opinion that impacts where to stay and dine. I have been lucky to have stayed at Hotel Cipriani, Hotel Danielli, and Hotel Gritti Palace. They represent three of the best and most elegant hotels, and each is uniquely Venice.
Hotel Cipriani – Some rank this Orient Express hotel as the best hotel in Europe , let alone Venice. It is a very short boat ride directly across from San Marco which makes it quiet, yet quite accessible.
If you stay there you will eat at Fortuny or Fortuny Terrace. The restaurant is elegant and the food wonderful. Eat outside though on the terrace overlooking the lagoon.
Tip – Do not let them seat you in the bleachers. Especially if you are staying there make certain that you get a prime table.
Hotel Gritti Palace – This hotel also is a perennial favorite on Best Hotel lists. It was built in 1525 to house the Doge of Venice and has both a perfect location and view. It was on Ernest Hemingway’s list of favorite hotels for whatever that is worth. Generally I prefer to stay in hotels that are more modern. That look and feel just doesn’t seem right to me in Venice though.
It also has an outstanding outdoor restaurant with spectacular view – Club del Doge.
Hotel Danieli – If the Gritti Palace is not old enough for you try the Danieli. It was built in the 1300s. It also has a great location and views, just next to Plaza San Marco. As you enter the hotel you will gasp at the amazing interior with its marble columns, stained glass, gold leaf ceilings, and Murano glass chandelier.
If you have any funds left after paying for the hotel, you must have dinner outside on their rooftop at La Terrazza. It may be the best dinner view that you have ever experienced and once again this restaurant speaks to the romance of Venice. The only issue we had with either the food or service was that my wife, Allyn, committed the ultimate faux pas by asking for grated cheese on her spaghetti and clams. Who knew?
Harry’s Bar – The only restaurant in Venice that is world famous is Harry’s Bar. Some think it is the best, probably most disagree. Everybody agrees that the prices are astronomical. You may want to pop in to have a Bellini and then go elsewhere. That way you won’t feel liked you missed something special. Don’t even do that if you are looking for a quiet bar.
Trivia – The Bellini (fresh peach juice and sparkling wine) was invented at Harry’s Bar.