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Exploring The Hotel Danieli of Venice Italy, Arguably the Most Majestic Hotel in the World

All Images Credit Marriott Hotels

A sleek Riva Aquarama boat navigates through the lagoon as a gondola passes by steered by oarsmen in his blue striped shirt and straw hat.  A stylish couple, he in a bespoke linen suit and her in a designer floral summer dress, disembark at the private canal entrance of the hotel. This is Venice and the couple has just arrived at the crown jewel of Venetian hotels, The Hotel Danieli, A Luxury Collection Hotel.  


Venice is arguably the most romantic city in the world. What makes Venice or La Serenissima so unusual is the natural beauty of the Venice waterfront, surrounding islands and beautiful thousand-year-old baroque and Gothic era buildings. Beyond that, there are no cars and only watercraft such as the water taxi, ferries, and gondolas that can navigate the shallow system of canals to get from one point to another. The other option is to walk the labyrinth of often narrow pedestrian streets over bridges, past residences and all manner of shops and restaurants. It's truly a beguiling city.  


The Hotel Danieli is Venice’s most prestigious address and amongst the most admired hotels in the world. Its front yard is a panoramic view of the Venice Lagoon and the Island of San Giorgio with its most popular tourist attraction, St. Marco Square, just a few steps away. Venice’s other notable landmarks are also nearby including the Bridge of Sighs, the Basilica and the Palazzo Ducale. Outside bustles with a steady flow of tourists as well as rows of gondolas, outdoor cafes, and shops.   


The fairy tale like exterior of the Palazzo Dandolo is designed in the Venetian Gothic style with a rose pink stucco finish, contrasting marble window sills, white turrets and balconies with Moorish arches. Indoors guests are transported to another place in time. The gravitas of this grand place is palatable with the manifestations of 800 years of the history and the Venice aristocracy on full display. The hotel is actually three palazzos or regal estates from the 14th, 19th and 20th centuries which have been combined into one hotel masterpiece. 


The Palazzo Dandolo was once home to the  Danolo dynasty who are known as the patriarch family of Venice and who begat four Venice Doge which are akin to lords, rulers, or powerful governors. Enrico was the most prominent of the Danolo rulers and is heralded for conquering Constantinople in 1204. This conquest brought along with it a ransom of gold, marble, Byzantine art from the Ottoman empire and countless other treasures some of which are still found throughout the hotel.  The wealth and power of this dynasty is manifested in extravagant details and in the opulence of the hotel.


The entrance of The Hotel Danieli is of legend. Guests are greeted with a  four-storied atrium decorated with Moorish arches and oriental marble columns. The space was once an open air courtyard and is now covered with a beautiful stained-glass copula. The lobby is what one would expect is a king’s palace with a grand space adorned with hand-carved pink marble pillars, and ornate gold leaf ceiling, one-of-a-kind Murano glass chandeliers, exquisite wall tapestries as well as an extravagant baroque marble fireplace. There are plenty of sitting areas to gather with friends or just pause and take in the stunning beauty that surrounds. 

The Famed Hotel Danieli Golden Staircase

One of the most photographed locations in Venice is the Hotel Danieli’s golden staircase. It is the original 13th-century staircase of the palazzo and dominates the central atrium and lobby. The staircase looks more like a set from an opera than a functional staircase and is painted gold and ornamented with marble balustrades, four levels of ornate balconies, and doge red carpet. One can only imagine the number of visiting noblemen, dignitaries and members of high society, festooned in the attire of the day, that made their grand entrance into a gala below. 

Bar Danolo

In addition to the staircase, the lobby has another signature feature in the Bar Dandolo. The Bar Dandolo offers a copious portion of history and intrigue, a stunning setting, with live piano music, and some really incredible cocktails made by talented bartenders. The Bar Dandolo seems to have gotten it right and as it finds itself with a perennial place, for the past 16 years, on the Gambero Rosso which recognizes the top bars in Italy. Most will come in and take in the ambiance, chat with the bartenders and seek to be cool by ordering a martini a la James Bond in Casino Royale which was filmed in this very bar. But insiders will opt for the Bucintoro which is similar to a Bellini but made with fresh strawberries vs. peaches. It is one of their favorites concocted for the visit of then President George Bush and is an ideal drink for warm Venice summers.   


Speaking of James Bond and Hollywood, there has a been a long time connection with tinsel town and The Hotel Danieli. Movies such as The Tourist with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp filmed several scenes at the Danieli as did James Bond in Casino Royale. Hollywood has had a love affair with the Danieli that has become the perennial choice for celebrities when descending on Venice for the Venice Film Festival with past luminaries such as Elizabeth Taylor, Omar Sharif, Johnny Depp, and Harrison Ford.  

The Lagoon Suite

The Hotel Danieli has been a working hotel since 1822 and today features 210 rooms and suites. The lavish accommodations vary in size, amenities, as well as in the décor from old world elegant to avant-garde. The traditional accommodations are what one would fantasize about a stay in the place of a Venetian palazzo. Murano crystal chandeliers light the space with walls of Italian plaster, bespoke curved armoires,  parquet floors, gilt framed art and mirrors, blood red damask curtains and silk fabric touches. The bathrooms are extravagant as well with marble surfaces, a deep soaking bath and designer bathroom amenities. In many of the rooms, French doors open on to julienne balconies beyond which the sights of Venice come into view.

Doge Danolo Royal Suite

As the former place of Venetian royalty, to say that the royal suites are otherworldly would be an understatement. Beyond the grand size of 1600 square feet,  it’s the details that one will be hard-pressed to find anywhere which is why the Doge Dandolo Royal Suite is often recognized as one of the top suites in the world. The list of extravagances begins with the grand living room with soaring ceilings, priceless antiques, while portraits by 19th-century Venetian artist Ermolao Paoletti adorn the walls. 


Priceless 18th century Murano glass chandeliers also illuminate the area which includes a fireplace with the Dandolo family crest as its centerpiece. The opulent details continue with fine silverware, gilded baroque armchairs, and antique carpets over finely crafted  Terrazzo Veneziana Floors.  There are several balconies that provide180° postcard-esque views of the Venice Lagoon. The dining room is ideal for a group of friends as are the wine cabinets filled with fine vintages. 


Normally one dreams in a bedroom, but in this case the bedroom is a fantastical dream that one can take-in while fully awake. The master features a museum level original 18th Century ceiling fresco by Jacopo Guarana of angels in heaven. To ensure guests are indulged in the lap of luxury, the bathroom features a Turkish Steam Bath. The suite offers two bedrooms and can be adjoined to other rooms for a five bedroom penthouse. 


When one thinks of the top places of the world for fine dining, Italy must be at the top of any list. Pair that with Italy’s most revered chefs and the ultimate romantic setting and you’re in for a dining experience beyond compare. That is exactly what guests experience at the  Terrrazza Danieli.  


The restaurant is perennially selected among the top in Italy due to their world-class chefs, the setting and service and the menu of indigenous and fresh ingredients which vary with the seasons. Expect options such as grilled octopus, followed by squid-ink gnocchi, roast turbot or foie gras, cannelloni, and duck all of which are well-paired with vintages from their extensive international wine cellar.   


It’s been said that a stay in the Hotel Danieli is like walking into a living museum or like living in a postcard. The accolades go beyond its guests and admirers to purveyors of luxury hotels such as Conde Nast, Travel and Leisure and  Elite Traveler where it is perennially found at the top of their best hotels list. The best option to fully appreciate The Hotel Danieli, A Luxury Collection Hotel is to see it for yourself or even better, book it for a stay in this most beautiful hotel in the most beguiling city on Earth. 


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Glenn Harris

Glenn Harris is an accomplished journalist focusing on international travel, fine dining, and luxury lifestyle events. His wanderlust has taken him to over 100 countries where he is constantly straying off the beaten path uncovering new and exotic finds. He particularly enjoys seeking out lesser known travel gems and places to stay, dine, or experiences to capture. ...(Read More)

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