Anthea Gerrie reviews the Radisson Collection Hotel Palazzo Nani on Venice’s Cannaregio Canal
Transforming an exquisite 16th-century palazzo into a modern luxury hotel without destroying its original features seems an impossible challenge. But that feat has been superbly achieved to create the Radisson Hotel Palazzo Nani, where guests can sleep beneath frescoed or inlaid ceilings in what was for centuries a grand private home on one of the loveliest canals in Venice.
This latest addition to the five-star offerings of La Serenissima is a jewel whose location adds its own magic to the charm of the conversion. The palazzo sits on the waterfront edge of Cannaregio, a lovely but lesser-known neighbourhood which most day-trippers fail to reach. Yet it is an easy stroll from both the Rialto Bridge and Santa Lucia station, while the vaporetto stop leading to the high points of the Grand Canal and the islands beyond the city is right outside the door.
Cannaregio is home to the old Jewish Ghetto, and centuries after the original community left, singing and dancing to celebrate the end of the Sabbath once again enlivens Saturday nights in the quieter corners of the neighbourhood. Keep crossing the small canals which punctuate this charming mediaeval quarter, and you’ll find DJ’s spinning decks in a lively bar hub across the first bridge, and the highly rated Anice Stellato just across the second, a delightful local eatery in a peaceful location.
But you might find it hard to tear yourself away from Hotel Palazzo Nani, given that some rooms offer a pole position peek at the street life of the Cannaregio Canal, its banks lined with pavement diners, while other rooms, like ours, overlook a delightful garden decorated with a full-sized gondola and outdoor sofas on which to relax with an espresso or Aperol spritz.
Beneath the killer ceiling which it was hard to take our eyes off – by law, the gaps in the painted plaster could not be restored and were testament to its authenticity – our room was all mod cons delivered with superb elegance. Sofas, chairs, and beds throughout the hotel are upholstered in the rich, deep velvets associated with the golden age of Venice and a spacious dressing-cum-catering area clad in dark wood behind our bed featured the all-important espresso machine as well as plentiful drawers, hanging space, room safe and fridge.
The bathroom fixtures may have been state of the art, with a huge walk-in shower, but the wow feature here was the original stone mouldings supporting the door-frame – this is a hotel where ancient stucco and plaster as well as terrazzo flooring and hand-painted ceilings arrest the visitor at every turn. Emerge from the main lift on the second floor, as we did, and you will barely get past what was once the great reception hall of the palazzo, awash with artefacts and its own painted ceilings, behind which a hidden corridor leads to garden view rooms.
Typically Venetian food and drink is served in the Zoja Wine Bar & Terrace, named after the family which once resided in the palazzo, a delightful space which extends into a beautiful back garden where meals can also be enjoyed. Here we tucked into what may be the best breakfast buffet in Venice, featuring smoked swordfish and salmon, charcuterie, Italian cheeses, perfect little Datterini tomatoes, the salad produce which is the great glory of Venice’s Torcello island and superb fresh bread and pastries.
Not only orange and grapefruit juices were freshly squeezed but a killer mixture of carrot and ginger, while granola with berries and hot egg dishes were available prepared to order.
The striking, Art Deco-influenced bar is a visual joy to be admired while enjoying a complimentary glass of Prosecco or coffee on arrival, a special welcome from a very special almost-boutique hotel, whose 62 rooms seem set to be among the most sought-after in Venice. Particularly between now and November, when the Palazzo Manfrin just across from the hotel on the opposite side of the canal is housing spectacular huge, colourful works by British star sculptor Anish Kapoor as part of the 2022 Biennale artfest.
Images (C) Anthea Gerrie and Rasdisson.
Tell Me More About the Radisson Collection Hotel Palazzo Nani
Radisson Collection Hotel Palazzo Nani, Fondamenta Cannaregio 1105 30121 Venice VE, Italy
T: +39 041 884 2200
Rooms from £380 including breakfast
EasyJet serves Venice from London Gatwick and other UK airports.