Best of the Best 2013: Hotels: The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel

The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel (+39.041.794.611, www.thegrittipalace.com), reopened to great fanfare—and even greater expectations—this February. Set on Venice’s Grand Canal, just steps from St. Mark’s Square, the Gothic grande dame was originally built as a private palazzo in the 15th century. Opened as a hotel in the late 1800s, the Gritti Palace was in dire need of an update by the time it closed in late 2011 for renovations. The 15-month, $55 million undertaking, led by the Atlanta-based interiors master Chuck Chewning (creative director of Donghia furnishings), has returned the property to its place among Europe’s finest hotels. A dramatic fantasy of high Venetian style, Chewning’s design incorporates miles of custom Rubelli silks, acres of terrazzo flooring, and countless curlicues of Murano glass. In addition to the updates to all 82 rooms—which include 21 one-of-a-kind suites—the transformation added a petite spa from Acqua di Parma and saw the rebirth of the hotel’s much-missed epicurean academy, where budding gastronomes create gourmet delicacies as delicious as those at the hotel’s canal-front Club del Doge restaurant. ($550–$15,625)