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BEST of the BEST 2014 | Journeys | Hotels: Aman Canal Grande Venice

  • Daniel Scheffler

Establishing a new high-water mark in Venice...

For its first hotel in Italy, the Singapore-based Amanresorts selected a 16th-century Venetian palazzo owned by Count Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga and his wife, Countess Bianca di Savoia Aosta Arrivabene. The palace—located in Venice’s San Polo district, just a short gondola ride from the Rialto Bridge—underwent a painstaking 18-month refurbishment that included restoring hundreds of original frescoes, murals, sculptures, and chandeliers to their former splendor. The finished product, which opened last June as the Aman Canal Grande Venice, marks a magnificent departure for Amanresorts and sets a new standard for Venetian hotels.

Guests arrive at the Aman via boat, disembarking on a private pier that leads to a palatial reception hall where Gothic-style iron lanterns hang from vaulted ceilings. A grand staircase adorned with trompe l’oeil murals takes guests up to the elegant piano nobile, an ornately decorated floor with gilded cornices, marble putti figurines on the walls, and expansive terraces that overlook the canals.

Amanresorts’ typically minimalist aesthetic is not entirely absent from the hotel. In the 24 guest rooms, interiors by Jean-Michel Gathy feature wenge-wood furnishings by B&B Italia and floor-to-ceiling windows that complement such lavish adornments as Rubelli silks and Murano chandeliers. Five signature accommodations include the Alcova Tiepolo Suite, with its ceiling painting by the 18th-century baroque artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, and the Sansovino Stanza, which includes a fireplace designed by the 16th-century architect Jacopo d’Antonio Sansovino.

The Aman Canal Grande Venice’s gastronomic experiences take place in the piano nobile’s Red and Yellow dining rooms—named for the colorful silks lining each room’s walls—and offer the choice between Thai and Venetian cuisine. Following a dinner of stir-fried fish with red chile or black squid-ink risotto, guests can retire to the salon, bar, or wood-paneled library for an aperitif. Predinner drinks are best enjoyed at the hotel’s altana, or rooftop terrace, set high above the canals and crowds of the city. ($1,588–$5,040).  +39.041.2707333, www.amanresorts.com.