Venice is on my mind as Carnevale enters its final week of frivolity. Sure, the days leading up to Lent [which starts next Wednesday] are cause for sometimes raucous celebration elsewhere, but it’s in Venice, Italy, that tradition, entertainment, and culture meld into a world-class city-wide party complete with costumes and masks. Seriously: in what other large city would elaborate face masks be a routine fashion statement?
The Hotel Danieli, Riva degli Schiavoni, Castello, Venice, Italy, harks back to the halcyon days of the city-state. Comprised of three palaces along the Bacino San Marco, the hotel’s main building (the Palazzo Dandolo) was commissioned by the noble Venetian family Dandolo in the 14th century. Four Dandolos have served as Doges (the senior-most elected official) of Venice. One, Enrico, was part of the Fourth Crusade that sacked Constantinople in 1204, and returned to the city with all sorts of gold, marble and Byzantine artwork, some of which was later incorporated into the Palazzo Dandolo’s Venetian Gothic interiors. (Photo, below, shows the Bar Dandolo Lounge)
Two later palaces have been incorporated to form the Hotel Danieli: Palazzo Casa Nuova, previously the city’s treasury; and Palazzo Danieli Excelsior — I stayed in one of the guestrooms in this part of the hotel featuring guestrooms with balconies overlooking the lagoon on its upper floors.
Drop-dead gorgeous doesn’t begin to describe this hotel. You arrive, of course, by boat, and step into a lobby that manages to be both ornate and tasteful.
My room overlooked the Bacino San Marco, a part of the Venice lagoon. Even though my room was fit for a medieval European princess (Venetian glass mirrors! Fabric-covered headboard and matching armoire doors!), I spent much time gazing out the window at the view: the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and the Chiesa di San Giorgio Maggiori looming on the horizon, gondolas, vaparettos, and other boats zipping past on the water.
All the expected five-star amenities were in the large bathroom, from the towel warmer at the foot of the bath to the marble-covered walls to the bidet (always a surprise for American tourists).
Tripadvisor says there are 257 restaurants within 1/3 of a mile. It is, of course, just a block from the epicenter of Venice tourism, St. Mark’s Square, where you’ll find not only the expected flocks of pigeons but also the Basilica di San Marco, Doge’s Palace, and the Campanile di San Marco.
Room rates at the Hotel Danieli, a Luxury Collection Hotel in the Marriott family of brands, start around $425. You can book via the hotel website or any of the usual booking sites such as Expedia or Travelocity.
(Photos courtesy of the Hotel Danieli, and by Susan McKee, who was a guest of the hotel)