Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Bauer Il Palazzo

Italy

A grand gothic palace filled with Venetian treasures, overlooking the Grand Canal

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Bauer Il Palazzo
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Bauer Il Palazzo

Location

In the heart of Venice, two minutes walk from St Mark's Square

Travel Information

Marco Polo Airport - 15 minutes by private water taxi

Top Tips

The special Christmas Eve and Christmas six-course dinners, served in the De Pisis restaurant, are legendary

5-Star X-Factors

The 7th floor of Il Palazzo is the tallest terrace in Venice, and offers spectacular views of city

Venetian dream

I had the pleasure of travelling to Venice with LE editor, Sophie, to stay at the Bauer Il Palazzo. We landed in the most beautiful golden sun and crisp blue skies. I note this because it was late February and I couldn’t believe how stunning Venice looked when most of Europe was grey.

We arrived at the hotel’s private dock on the Grand Canal, one of Venice’s most regal addresses, and were instantly transported into a Venetian world of elegance. Even the colour of the water that time of year shimmers with a glow worth painting. Commanding the stage on the corner in front of us, with its gothic façade and lancet windows, was Il Palazzo.

There to greet us was the hotel’s infamous proprietor, Francesca Bortolotto Possati. It was her innovative and visionary designs for the Bauer that lead to its thorough renovation in the late 90s. A proud Venetian through and through, Francesca was able to honour her grandfather’s spirit and foresight and transform the family’s third generation-owned Bauer into two different hotels: the 'luxury' Il Palazzo and the 'urban' L’Hotel.

Il Palazzo is indeed that: a grand Venetian palace. Before our eyes was an opulent foyer filled with Venetian treasures in fabric, paintings and glass as it overlooks the Grand Canal, opposite the glorious Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. Each of their 38 rooms and 34 suites are adorned with exceptional European art, both from the past and present, fabrics and furnishings that have been unmistakably selected by the special touch of Francesca, and all rooms are individually presented.

We had the fortune of staying in two gorgeous suites; one that offered a balcony facing the Grand Canal and the other called the Grand Canal Suite, which had two enormous windows in our lounge facing the water and city rooftops beyond. The wood panelling and silk wallpaper made us feel we were in a captain’s suite in a ship with the sea below. Picturesque indeed.

Time for a tipple

Once settled in, it was cocktail time. We chose to sit corner-side at the B Bar at L’Hotel. Both hotels sit seamlessly beside each other and yet entering from the square outside, one steps into Bauers L’Hotel and discovers a contemporary Venetian atmosphere, cosy yet refined. The B Bar loves its seasonal cocktail menu and, with the window facing the square outside, we were blissfully happy watching the world shop by with a B Sensation drink in hand.

The Bauer hotels are so centrally located that getting lost is almost encouraged. We were surrounded by the best of the shops and restaurants and didn’t need much help winding our way through the alleys and piazzas. The concierge service offered at the hotel was second to none and with their private dock on the Grand Canal, they also offered bespoke boat adventures through waters of the islands around. 

Bauer Palladio Hotel and Spa sits opposite on Guidecca Island and is a retreat filled with holistic treatments, meditational gardens and complete peace and serenity; a wonderful counterpart to the hustle and bustle of the main island. The rooms there are spacious and stunning; we seriously didn’t want to leave.

Directly next door to Palladio is Villa F, another stand out property in the Bauer collection. A 16th century villa that once served as a residence to a number of noble Italian families, it later catered to a clientele of painters, writers and actors including Gabriele D’Annunnzio, Eleonora Duse and Mabel Holland. Now with Elton John as a neighbour, it is comprised of several private residences each with their own special flair: a perfect escape for those in need of ultimate luxe and privacy with more space. It could certainly serve a family well.

Gourmet delights

And then there’s the food. One must indulge when in Italy and the restaurants on offer do an excellent job of whetting the appetite and satisfying it to perfection. At night we wandered from our hotel, just round the corner, to the infamous Piazza San Marco, the 9th century square central to Venetian life. Our destination was the only fine-dining restaurant in the square, the Michelin star-rated Ristorante Quadri. It was grand in its appearance yet comfortable and real in its delivery. The waiters made our experience even better as we dined on slow roasted pork and drank a selection of wines by the glass in extra large Venetian glasses that were gorgeous to drink from.

Another restaurant always worth mentioning is Da Fiore, which specialises in exquisite seafood dishes like sea bass with balsamic vinegar and sublime Venetian raw-fish antipasto. We arrived having lost ourselves, again, through the alleyways over the Rialto bridge heading for Campo San Polo. It was the kind jeweller nearby who eventually led us to the restaurant. When in doubt, jewellery shopping can always lead to the right path. We ate and drank beautiful local and seasonal cuisine and then departed by jumping on a boat out in front of the balcony. I felt like a Bond girl in my leathers high tailing it in our getaway cruiser. 'Go, go go!' we screamed to the boat taxi driver, but he only looked at us and smiled.

Being able to stop back at our hotel to freshen up made me realise how we truly enjoyed one of the best addresses in the city. It’s worth mentioning that the 7th floor of Il Palazzo has the tallest terrace in all of Venice for breakfast and lounging. The view of the city and the lagoon is spectacular and worth the time for the second coffee. A quick stop off and we left to explore the art scene.

The Bienale had finished but the chance to see great art remains. For the contemporary art enthusiast, there’s the Guggenheim housing a collection from the last 60 years of 20th century European and American art and, of course, Punta della Dogana, in what used to be the city’s customs house. The building is a triangular architectural masterpiece, located between the Grand Canal and Giudecca Canal, and presents a permanent exhibition of works from the François Pinault Foundation.

Winter, for me, is the best time to go to Venice. Locals say it too; perhaps because we tourists don’t overwhelm their pavements. But there is something about the low golden glow of the winter sun with gondolas passing by, the cold yet refreshing air, and the clarity of colour of all the buildings against the bluest of skies that fills all of the senses and fuels the soul. It’s a different and more distinct kind of magic. For a European getaway, it was one of the easiest trips I’d taken in a long time and yet the benefits are similar to having been transported far, far away.

Jennifer Hamm
Jennifer Hamm


Luxury Explorer