Venice has an intangible magic. The canals between the 118 islands on which it is built, and under the nearly 400 bridges that connect them, are animated by the tides of the sea – bustling with boats and gondolas, they remain the lifeblood of the city even today. today. This unique geographical point of view and a daring commercial spirit made Venice the first financial and maritime power in Europe during the Renaissance and the Middle Ages, but it is the unearthly beauty of the City of Water that has lived on. in culture. Its gravity-defying architecture, vibrant traditions and romanticism continue to inspire artists, playwrights, poets and musicians, as it has since the days of Shakespeare and Voltaire.
Dating back to the 12th century, Baglioni Hotel Luna is the oldest hotel in Venice. It began life as a church and hosted the Templars of the Crusades in 1118. In 1574 the property was already known as “Locanda della Luna”. , the Moon Inn. The luxurious mansion that now rests on those same foundations has evolved far from its humble origins. Recently reopened following a redesign by Italian studio Spagnulo & Partners, with a new spa and restaurant, the property is located in the beating heart of Venice, seconds from Piazza San Marco.
Why stay here?
Arriving by water taxi or gondola, you’ll reach a modest flower-lined pier, where the hotel’s “portieri” will greet you. But when you enter, the unassuming facade will open up to a vast interior of opulence, filled with the craftsmanship and art for which the proud region is known. In the lobby, antique Murano glass chandeliers hang from the ceiling, casting their warm glow on the faces below. Underfoot, geometric pieces of marble in rich earth tones open up the cool floor. Each of the 91 gilded rooms and suites exudes glamorous sophistication, in a way that only Venetians can use with so much gold. From the lighting to the sumptuous silk bedding, every detail and material has been chosen to reflect the city’s eclectic history.
Hotel Luna’s unparalleled location is reason enough to stay. The mansion is a 30-second walk from Piazza San Marco – one of Italy’s most renowned historical sites. The Doge’s Palace, Napoleon’s Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica all line the square. The only square in Venice (all other squares are called “campi”), it was the social, religious and political heart of the city. It is the starting point of the annual Venice Carnival and, if you are fascinated by the commercial history of Venice, you will be interested to know that the point where the square opens onto the lagoon, framed by two huge pillars, is where the entrance to the Silk Road began. Insider tip: Never walk between the pillars. The locals will never do that and it’s supposed to bring bad luck.
Eat and drink
You have to have breakfast in the magnificent Marco Polo ballroom, if only to make the walls pop. It was painted with frescoes by the talented students of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo in the 18th century, one of the greatest fresco painters in the world. Incredible artwork adorns the entire room in pink and blue hues.
For an intimate evening, dine at Canova, the hotel’s new gourmet restaurant. Run by star chef Claudio Sadler, it has a small seating capacity and is the perfect place to escape indoors. The service is exceptional – striking the perfect balance between always present but never fussy. The menu uses seasonal Venetian produce to create light and delicious dishes presented with creativity and artistry. As it has just opened, it does not yet have a Michelin star, but if its other restaurant at Baglioni in Sardinia is anything to go by, it might soon.
If you like seafood, go Ristorante Do Forni – about five minutes on foot. When you arrive, don’t be surprised if it looks empty, because the real fun is at the back of the restaurant and hidden from the driveway. Order the grilled langoustines and scallops with a fresh arugula salad to start (Scampi e capesante Manin, su un letto di rucola). Dressed simply in olive oil and lemon, this antipasti really makes the delicate sweetness of fresh shellfish sing.
What to do
After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, La Biennale di Venezia is back for the first time since 2019. Until November 27, this exhibition was created in 1895 and is at the forefront of contemporary art . The Biennale alternates between art and architecture – hence the word “biennale” in its name. Every two years, hundreds of artists travel to two venues in the city, the Giardini and the Arsenale, to fill them with powerful and fantastic creations. This 59th edition is curated by Cecilia Alemani, the first Italian woman to hold the title, and exhibits the work of 213 artists from 58 countries. This year’s theme is “The Milk of Dreams”, inspired by a book by Leonora Carrington: a surreal and magical world, where life is continually reinvented. Everyone can change, transform, become something or someone else.
The hotel itself also organizes cultural activities, from the Gold Experience to visit Venice’s last gold beaters (Mario Berta Battiloro), to the carnival experience all year round.
After a day of adventure, at night take a moment to stand in front of the hotel and look up at the sky. Hotel Luna bears his name for a reason. Depending on what time of the month you visit, you may see a glowing white orb above the Grand Canal. This is the perfect spot for a photo before dinner. It may be the sea air that sharpens the senses, but it seems even the moon shines brighter in Venice.
How to book
Rates start from £257 per night. If you are looking for something very special, ask about the San Giorgio Terrace Suite. It will be more expensive, but it’s a two-bedroom apartment with its own 100m² terrace and some of the best views over the square and the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. See baglionihotels.com