For the ultimate in style and indulgence in Venice, you can’t do much better than the Luna Hotel Baglioni. Sally FitzGerald enjoys a weekend at La Serenissima’s oldest hotel…
Leaning out over the padded velvet balcony, watching the sun set over the still waters of the lagoon, I think I may be as close to paradise as I’m ever going to get. My taste buds still tingling from the flavour of the sweet strawberries enrobed in rich dark chocolate that caught my eye as soon as I entered the decadent room, my first impressions of Venice’s Luna Hotel Baglioni could not have got off to a better start.
Luna Hotel Baglioni is Venice’s oldest hotel, dating back to the 12th century and, even though it now contains all the mod cons you could possibly require, the beautiful traditional décor makes it easy to imagine the likes of Casanova still dashing through its corridors. The hotel was rumoured to have given shelter to the Knights Templar in 1118, and has been known as Locanda della Luna since 1574. Now it has been taken over by The Leading Hotels of the World chain Baglioni Hotels and retains all the glamour and indulgence of its former self.
Frescoes, antique furniture and crystal chandeliers line the corridors, while the hotel’s 104 rooms and suites all epitomise the height of luxury. In my particular room, a calming mint green brocade silk entices you to stroke the walls, while the queen size bed is so plumped up with pillows lying on it is like floating on clouds. Above the bed are two Venetian glass lamps made in a distinctly Moroccan style, illustrating both the ingenuity of Murano’s glass making skills and the influence Venice’s former trade links had on the city’s sense of style. A mirrored Art Deco mini bar and elegant wooden desk complete the room perfectly, while a beautifully white Italian marble bathroom makes for the ideal en suite.
And the impeccable attention to detail isn’t reserved just for the rooms. The Caffè Baglioni, hidden away off the hotel’s main entrance and overlooking the canal, offers snacks throughout the day, and in the evening transforms into a lovely bar where you can wile away a few hours with an Aperol Spritz listening to the dulcet tones of the hotel pianist.
Breakfast is an equally sumptuous occasion, both in the food and the location. With tradition steeped in every brick of the hotel, making your way to breakfast is like walking through an art gallery, following the aroma of freshly baked treats as you pursue the corridors decorated with beautiful works of art until you finally arrive at the main exhibition – the Marco Polo Ballroom. Unlike anywhere you may have breakfasted before, the ballroom’s ceiling showcases the hotel’s long running social standing with two frescoes painted by the pupils of 18th century Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Only Venice’s best palazzi would have been privy to this treatment. While you admire the fluffy Rococo style of the frescoes you can feast on a true banquet of fresh pineapple, mini mozzarella balls, smoked salmon and scrambled egg, individual vegetable quiches, pear and chocolate cake, prune cake, and a selection of light, fruit-filled pastries.
But the luxury of the Luna Hotel Baglioni isn’t its only major selling point: its location is unbeatable. Nestled just behind St Mark’s Square, and surrounded by high-end fashion stores, you couldn’t ask to be closer to Venice’s most loved attractions. Now and again you can even hear a peal of bells filtering from the clock tower into your bedroom.
In a city where it’s much easier to get lost than it is to find your way again – and considering that every sign leads you back to St Mark’s – having a hotel situated just a skip and a jump from the iconic square is a godsend. Particularly if, like me, your map reading skills are questionable. It also means that if you don’t fancy dining at the hotel’s award-winning Canova restaurant one night, you can easily make your way to one of the city’s many other nice restaurants (or even just pop next door to Harry’s Bar for a Bellini before bed).
A night at the Luna Hotel Baglioni is far from a budget stay. But if you want to indulge yourself in the height of luxury and be within easy walking distance of the city’s most appealing sights, few places have more to offer than La Serenissima’s oldest hotel. And just the view from the balcony will be enough to make you want to return.
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☎ 00800 2888 8882 (toll free) offers stays at Luna Hotel Baglioni, Venice from £287 per room per night based on two people sharing including buffet breakfast and VAT.