Review: The Gritti Palace Venice (SPG)

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My good friend, Katy, has a three year old daughter (featured here), and their family loves traveling the world as much as mine.  Since (sadly) I can’t visit every location or hotel, she is going to share some of her experience traveling using miles and points at some locations I haven’t yet had the chance to visit.  Here is her post about a recent stay The Gritti Palace on SPG points in Venice.

In May, my husband and I were lucky enough to get to take some time off from his crazy work schedule to visit Europe.  We went to Venice and stayed at two properties on points. One was the Hilton Molino Stucky, and the second was a Category 7 Starwood Preferred Guest property called The Gritti Palace.

We did not have our three year old daughter with us, but like most parents while traveling I always think, “Is this hotel a place I would bring my whole family?”  The Hilton was big and for the most part seemed pretty family friendly, but the Gritti Palace did not scream kid-friendly to me at all.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful hotel, a wonderful location, and we enjoyed our stay there, but I would not have been as comfortable at this luxury SPG property with a toddler.

We were able to stay at the Gritti Palace for 30,000 SPG points for the night.  This sounds crazy, but prices for the hotel are often north of 500 euros per night.  Considering both the very high price of many hotels and Venice, and the fact that this is a “luxury hotel”, I was okay spending the points.  However, SPG points are very valuable and somewhat hard to come by, so I am not sure I could have stomached spending 30k per night for multiple nights.

The hotel is located in a great area just steps away from gondola rides, and right around the corner from a taxi stop called S. Maria del Giglio.  We were able to walk the two minutes to the taxi stop and go right from there to the airport when it was time to leave.  It was only .3 miles away from Saint Mark’s Square.

The hotel is pretty small, but we had also just come from the Hilton which was a large old mill converted to a hotel and situated on an island by itself.  The size of the Gritti was very much the standard for Venice.  It was beautifully decorated inside with the quintessential Venetian flair that most of the hotels in that area seem to have.

 

When you walk into the hotel you definitely feel like it is a luxurious hotel as it has a very elegant look about it.  The guests seemed to be dressed up a bit and move at a more leisurely pace than the typical constant picture taking, exhausted from walking around Venice, tourist contingent.  So that means that I was completely out of place with my outfit that I had worn two days in a row and my sneakers.  It did feel a little awkward since I realized I probably had no proper attire to wear to a nice dinner in their “reservations only” restaurant, Club del Doge.  I had packed a pair of sneakers and a pair of Toms, and my husband definitely did not have a dress jacket with him.  Given our wardrobe limitations we did not take in a meal at the restaurant, although I believe lunchtime would have been fine.  During lunch they offer the choice of the ‘Regional Menu: tradition in the kitchen’ which is made up of regional cuisines. It contains starters, entrees and desert.  It costs 65 euros per person.  Good thing our stay at the hotel was on points, not euros….

The view itself might be worth the visit.  You walk through a door right onto an outside porch and dock area. 

The porch is right on the water and is beautifully decorated and extremely relaxing.  A private taxi does drive right up to the dock to let you off, but I believe the assisted transfer fee to use that service was over $100 USD.

  

If you want lighter fare there is a piano type bar called Bar Longhi right off the lobby.

We did order room service which was a bit pricey but worth it.  I wanted a lighter meal, so I ordered the pasta fagioli soup and a caprese salad.  When I visited Italy a few years ago I became obsessed with the caprese salad (and yes, pronouncing it correctly is part of the fun!), so I tried to get it with every meal while I was there. It may be a simple salad but the Italians know how to do it perfectly.  My husband chose a shrimp salad with watercress and also an angel hair pasta with prosciutto.  He enjoyed his quite a bit so we feel the room service passed the test with flying colors!  It was all fresh and tasty.  It might have been nice to sit out on the porch with the beautiful view that overlooks the grand canal and enjoy our wonderfully cooked meals, but again our tired feet and comfy room won out.

         

We were also pleasantly surprised to receive a complimentary bottle of red wine from the hotel as a thanks for staying.  We have received this many times before with hotels that we had status with, but never with a hotel brand that we rarely visited.  By the time I finished my first glass I already felt like I was drinking the SPG kool-aid.  I guess my loyalty can be bought with a bottle of wine. 

The room key they give you is literally a key with a tassel and your room number on it.  I thought it was a cute touch, but was also happy to find out you don’t carry it around town with you.  When you leave the hotel you hand the concierge your key and in return you receive a slip of paper that allows you to retrieve your key upon return.

Just like at the Hilton, the elevators are extremely small.  We barely fit with our two bags, so we would have had to make multiple trips if we were a larger family traveling with all of our stuff.  We have no status with SPG other than having their co-branded SPG Amex, so we were not expecting any perks… and other than the wine we did not get any.  Our room was beautiful though, and we enjoyed the decor. The hostess who helped us to our room informed us that the hotel had just undergone a huge renovation and all the rooms had been updated.

The bathroom was a little too much marble for our taste, but obviously not a huge deal.  Our one major complaint was that the shower is so cramped and extremely difficult to get in and out of. Water would often get everywhere, and there was no easy way to put a towel down to step on when you got out, nor was there anywhere nearby to put a towel for you to use when you get out. I normally don’t judge showers too closely, but this one was by the far the worst I have experienced in terms of design and convenience.

   

All in all the Gritti Palace was a beautiful hotel, and worked well for one of our nights in Venice.  If we had packed nicer clothes, then we may have felt less uncomfortable.  There was a spa located at the hotel, but we didn’t try it out on our one night stay.  The big pro of this hotel is location.  After being at the Hilton, it was nice to be closer to everything.  There were some great restaurants nearby and convenient water taxi locations.

The downside of this hotel is that it did not seem particularly geared toward family travelers, which is probably an upside for some, but a downside for many Mommy Points readers.  According to their website, children 12 and under are considered children and stay for free in the existing bedding of a room shared with a paying adult. The use of in-room sofa beds is considered additional bedding and will incur an additional fee. Rollaways, child rollaways, and cribs may also incur extra charges.  The basic room (named Deluxe room) can hold two adults and one child. 

Thanks to my friend, Katy, for sharing her experience at the Gritti Palace Venice – I hope to visit Venice myself at some point!  If you have any questions about that hotel, she will be happy to address them in the comments section. 

Comments

  1. Thank you for the detailed trip report. I have always gazed at the Gritti Palace as we passed by on the canal and wondered what it was like. Sounds like a great hotel but traveling with my daughter, I guess we will stick to the Hilton Molino Stucky.

    That caprese salad looks exceptional!

  2. @Kathy – could you elaborate more on your travel to the hotel? Did you only use taxis? According to the website its approx 90E to get to the hotel, I presume you only used the taxi to leave but was that 90E as well? Did the public boat not tempt you to save some euros? I suppose its a long trip via public boat? Any comments re getting around town? Thanks! I’m a bit anxious about traveling there (as you can tell)!

  3. Fabulous hotel. Managed to stay there set real years ago on a staff rate of EUR69, but agree that 30K SPG is steep. That’s $237 in VR terms! Haven’t paid that much for a hotel in years!

  4. Fabulous hotel. Managed to stay there set real years ago on a staff rate of EUR69, but agree that 30K SPG is steep. That’s $237 in VR terms! Haven’t paid that much for a hotel in years!

  5. @tri, sorry for the delayed response. I was flying cross country with my daughter. With that in mind, my brain is a little fried today so I will try my best to remember things correctly for you 😉
    We definitely knew we wanted to spend our money on things other than high priced private transportation so we always looked at the public water transportation. We used the taxi stop S. Maria del Giglio to get to the airport. It was about a five minute walk at most from the hotel with our luggage. Extremely easy!
    We used Alilaguna transportation. If I remember correctly is only cost about 15-20 euros (giving a range because I cannot be sure). It takes much longer this way – about 45 minutes to ride to or from the airport but is much cheaper and you get to take in the scenery which was nice.
    Don’t be confused though by what some people tell you. It was the orange line and you can get on directly at S. Maria del Giglio and ride it all the way to the airport. Make sure you go to the right counter to ask for an orange line ticket. Some people were confused and tried to tell us we had to be at Rialto to be able to get on for the airport stop but that is not true. I am guessing the same is true coming from the airport. The concierge at the hotel was extremely helpful and can tell you all this as well as other helpful tips.
    http://www.alilaguna.it
    As for getting around the city we walked everywhere. It depends on everyone’s capabilities. There are public taxis that work great and get you from point A to point B but walking is very easy and really not bad. Make sure to get a city map though. To get places you need to be very aware of the small walk ways throughout the city and they are shown on the map.
    Hope that helps! Feel free to ask any more questions.

    • Thanks Katy… I wasnt sure what you meant by taxi, but im guessing there is a ‘public’ water taxi and then the private transportation eg similiar to a black car…? Even spg’s website is very confusing about traveling there not suggesting the same stop and suggesting much much longer times, more than an hour if you do the public water taxi transportation method….

  6. @Tri, exactly. There are public water taxis for cheap that hold dozens of people and has enough seating and then there are private water taxis (think a speed boat) that hold a handful of people.
    Travel times are definitely not exact since you are traveling by water but our trip was supposed to take an hour and it was 45 minutes so I would say an hour give or take 15 minutes. And it is not as bad as it sounds since you are riding through the city for most of the trip.
    If I had to do it all again the public transportation was great and no hassle for us.

  7. You mentioned a water taxi to the airport. Any idea on how the water taxi (public) works taking it to and from the train station?
    Thanks

  8. Patrick, The Santa Lucia train station is where we got off and started our journey in Venice so it is a very easy place to get back to if you are around the city. I would recommend checking with an agent at any of the taxi stations (which are located right in front of the train station) and they can help tell you which line you should be on. It really is easy and quick.
    Venice is an easy walking city too so you may not need to get a taxi (if you are talking about just visiting other places in the city.)

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