Venice’s oldest hotel gets a glam renovation to become its newest five-star establishment, glittering with Italian design on the Riva degli Schiavoni.
It’s not every hotel that has a lobby you can pull up to by boat –the most stylish way to arrive at this expansive spot in Venice’s Castello district. The austere stone exterior of this 66-room stunner hides an elegant interior that mixes rich shades of pinks, blues, and greens with velvet, wood beams, Venetian terrazzo, and plenty of the local Murano glass, promising a design-forward stay in the floating city.
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Ca’ di Dio means ‘house of God’, fitting for a 13th-century building that began as a pilgrims’ shelter and has kept its doors open to those in need of refuge ever since. Stepping into the lobby (originally the building’s chapel) feels like entering a Venetian temple to Italian mid-century modern design, with its curvy velvet furniture and original statues and masonry. The marble, light-filled hallways and cosy rooms radiate the same peace they have for centuries, except now they’re glitzed out and glowed up with Italy-sourced materials, from the Murano glass (14,000 crystals make up the lobby lamp alone) to Rubelli fabrics.
The past gets a gentle tug into contemporary luxury by famed designer Patricio Urquiola, and nowhere is that more palpable than in the 66 rooms. Echoing hallways lead into rooms that are all warm wood and luxurious fabrics, which do double duty lining the walls and warming the cool Venetian terrazzo floors. The gleaming pink marble bathrooms are next level, stocked with jewel-like L’Etér toiletries and primed for mirror selfies.
The two Altana Suites are worth the splurge, thanks to their fabulous terraces, but 13 others boast frontal views of the water. All the rooms practically burst with space, especially relative to the Venetian average.
The Little Extras
Where Ca’ di Dio really shines is when it comes to stopping time in its tracks. Whoever you are, there’s a corner of this magnificent hotel that appeals for living in the moment. The inner courtyard is quiet, dotted with fragrant plants and clusters of seats to encourage coffee-taking and losing oneself in one’s thoughts. A lucky few will have their own altana, typical wooden Venetian terraces found on the rooftops of the city. The hotel’s Pura spa is another relaxing highlight, with everything from anti-ageing gold leaf treatments (if you’re feeling splashy) to a small yet functional gym for those with a more practical focus.
The Food + Drink
From morning to midnight, Ca’ di Dio’s dining options tempt you to just stay in. Breakfast, taken in the Essentia Restaurant, balances a buffet of Italian sweets and cakes with healthy options from nuts and yogurt to avocado and salmon. VERO, the hotel’s elegant spot overlooking the water, has scandalously good squid ink taglierini and a risotto onion fondant so creamy you won’t believe it’s vegan.
The Alchemia Bar is a total must-visit. Done up in retro-glam velvets and sexy dark wood walls, it gives luscious la dolce vita vibes. However, the real stars are the cocktails, crafted by expert mixologists, with attention to detail down to the ice and the gorgeous glasses in which they are served.
The To-Do List
Ca’ di Dio, towering over the Riva degli Schiavoni, boasts one of the city’s best positions for Venice’s Biennale. When that’s not going on, visit the Peggy Guggenheim collection for the obligatory Venice art fix, or Palazzo Grassi for edgier installations from the likes of Marlene Dumas and Bruce Nauman in its impressive open gallery space.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, stroll over to Piazza San Marco and have a coffee and cake at the historic Caffe Florian. If you’re up for rowdy night of bellinis, pop into the famous Harry’s Bar, or for a quieter meal try Local, a Michelin-starred spot doing noteworthy contemporary Venetian cuisine.