Quiet luxury beside St Mark’s Square
Venice is packed with a bewildering number of atmospheric hotels that come with varying degrees of attitude. Choice does depend to a certain degree on budget, but if you’re wanting to mark a special occasion – and when is Venice not a special occasion? – the Baglioni Hotel Luna should tick your boxes.
We stayed two nights in September before and after a 7-day cruise to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and this elegant waterfront hotel offered everything we could have wanted in terms of comfort, elegance and tranquillity without the hype associated with some of the city’s iconic hotels.
The location is outstanding, about 30 seconds walk from the corner of St Mark’s Square, and fronting onto a short canal that leads off the busy Grand Canal. So the best – and arguably the only – way to arrive is by water taxi from the airport or train station. Water taxis in Venice are as common as black cabs in London, only pricier, but what price the chance to swish coolly up to the hotel landing stage in your own private motorboat? The photo opportunities are thrown in for free.
A great advantage of this stylish but unpretentious hotel is that with facing onto the lagoon, there are no issues in water taxi access. When the tide is high, taxis cannot pass under some of the bridges deeper into the island and we met travellers who had been dropped on a main canal and left to lug suitcases up and down bridges. No such problem here. We were dropped at the jetty and our cases whisked to our room.
There’s been a hostelry on this site since medieval times when pilgrims passed through Venice en route to the Holy Land. And as the city flourished as a trading port between east and west, so merchants came here to stay at the Hotel de la Luna, the name reflecting the Christian symbol of the full moon.
A small church stood on the site of the hotel’s current lobby, demolished under Napoleon at the end of the 18th century. Today, its gleaming marble floors and Art Deco style balustrade set the tone for the rest of the interior. Expanded beyond the original site of that pilgrims’ resting place, the hotel now boasts 91 rooms and suites.
We stayed in a Superior room on both nights, the rooms sumptuously furnished with heavy drapes, Murano glass wall lamps and chandeliers, and period furniture. Bathrooms offered twin washbasins, large bath with shower over, and piles of fluffy towels, plus white dressing gowns and complimentary black slippers.
I generally avoid hotel restaurants in big cities, preferring to sample independent establishments, but Venice is an expensive city and it’s easy to make the wrong choice and pay over the odds for mediocre food. So we decided to give the hotel’s Canova restaurant a try and liked it so much we ate there both nights.
The restaurant is small, intimate and atmospherically furnished; the service friendly; and the food from chef Cosimo Giampaolo is excellent. What’s more, their set meal option from the Venetian specialities menus was excellent value, including a glass of Prosecco, two courses, a generous glass of wine, plus water and coffee. We are still talking about the delicious porcini risotto and zabaglione dessert. There’s also the ground floor Caffè Baglioni for lighter snacks with a view on the small canal.
The other thing that guests here never forget is the dining room. Little documentation exists, but hotel manager Gianmatteo Zampieri believes it was once a ballroom attached to the casino fronting the street behind. Either way, the joyful frescoes of 17th century Venetian life, the rich colours and gleaming tableware are a great start to anyone’s sightseeing day.
Any disappointments? Only one very minor one. The hotel website does show a rooftop terrace with a stunning view across the water, but sadly this is only visible from the prestige suite, not from a public space. But with views in every direction outside the main door, it’s hardly a disadvantage.
A member of the Leading Hotels of the World and Fine Hotels & Resorts, the Baglioni Hotel Luna is not a cheap place to stay, but it’s worth watching the website for seasonal offers, especially during the colder months when you can enjoy Venice with the locals.
Despite several visits to this glorious city, I’d happily go back tomorrow and I’d also head back to the Baglioni Hotel Luna – a real home-from-home for anyone wanting to sample the palazzo lifestyle!