The Aman Canal Grande Venice is not simply a hotel, it is an intimate retreat in the center of Venice’s busy Canal Grande, protected from the madness of the city by palatial walls and a thick wooden door which only opens for those fortunate enough to enjoy temporary residency at this luxurious palace.
In the main, the Aman’s residents arrive and leave via water taxi from the waterside dock but there is also a street entrance, barricaded by an unsigned gate, which is locked to the outside world unless you are either expected or recognized over the discrete CCTV. When admittance is granted you are welcomed into another world of perfectly groomed gardens and the most stunning and sympathetically restored Venetian palace, complemented by sophisticated and contemporary Venetian furnishings. The scene is like something straight out of a Vogue photoshoot – one of which just happened to take place during our stay.
I could very quickly run out of superlatives, the Aman Venice really is rather special. We arrived by water taxi and were led into this dark and moody-looking building. At first, you feel as if you have stepped into a Renaissance painting being surrounded by chandeliers, ornate ceilings, statues, and murals, but the smiling staff proffering cool towels and the most delightful cocktail remind you that you’re in an exclusive hotel.
This palace couldn’t feel more extravagant. Historic rooms are complemented by lush deep pile rugs and suck-you-in sofas. Bedrooms are accessed via a maze of mind-boggling corridors that at first can seem quite intimidating to navigate. But you won’t mind getting lost, every new corridor and room you discover is a delight to behold, there’s always a seating area nearby inviting you to stop for a moment and take in the scene.
Our room itself didn’t disappoint. We had the base level which was both large and finished to an excellent standard. Higher-level rooms have a direct view of the Grande Canal whereas our room looked over the rooftops of Venice, but what a view! Venetian canals, church spires, and crazy precarious-looking wooden verandah constructions on top of some of the said rooftops. The Aman itself has one of these wooden outcrops, a perfect place to take take a bottle of wine and watch a Venetian sunset – if you aren’t afraid of the entire structure toppling off the roof and into the canal below.
The room’s walls were painted a stark white with muslins softening the windows, which when swung open allowed entry to a warm breeze and revealed the distant clatter of people going about their business, bird song, and an occasional church bell, all of which added to the Venetian character of the space. Inside a selection of stylish high-end pieces were set on the parquet flooring along with rugs that were so thick and soft that you wanted to bury your feet in them.
There was Bang and Olufsen TV and sound system should you need it. If you were hungry or thirsty there were complimentary nuts, soft drinks, and chocolates to tempt, as well as more bottled water than you could possibly need. A comfortable desk area was perfect for working or you could laze by the window in a comfy chair set. Lighting was in two different levels, bright and subtle and there was of course a massive full-length mirror leaned nonchalantly against the wall. Aside from this plug sockets were in useful positions and innovative table lighting sat on the floor and swung around to the large, super comfy bed. This room had been thought about and tested. There was no need to search for anything as it was all just where you expected it to be – careful consideration made to a guest’s needs.
The bathroom deserves special praise, being as large as the bedroom, its focal point a stand-alone bath. Bottles of possibly my favorite scented gels and moisturizer were sat by two large half-cylinder basins. Comfortable seats paired with a small table were placed in the center of the room. It is the kind of place where you want to take note of all the pieces so that you can replicate them when you return home. Everything was so immaculately clean, the chrome of the fixtures and fittings looked brand new, as did the huge rainforest shower with its perfect water pressure. Numerous Asian-style cupboards were set along one wall of the bathroom and fitted my luggage in such a way that you could open your case within the cupboard and then close it all away.
We whiled away the evenings served by the Aman’s impeccable staff in the most ornate room in the hotel, the ballroom. Here you could look out from the balcony over the Grande Canale and let the singing on the gondolas waft across you from the open windows. We could have sat and enjoyed our evening in any of the ballroom-style rooms, (there must have been at least 8 over 2 floors), but the most extravagant, the main ballroom was breathtaking, close to a perfect Venetian setting, it was hard to leave.
The flexibility over dining was particularly refreshing: we could eat or drink whatever we wanted, when and where we chose – one night we dined in the hotel’s restaurant, on another occasion we enjoyed the same fine dining from the ballroom, nothing it seemed was too much trouble. There are no set breakfast times, just turn up when you’re hungry or thirsty and the attentive staff will cater to your every need. And god forbid you might be subject to anything as vulgar as signing for a bill. The same magical staff knows who you are and what you ordered, there’s no need o sign a bill or identify yourself. Like a rock star, everyone within the walls of the Aman knows who you are.
And the food was just fabulous. The restaurant offered the most mouth-watering ravioli, freshest fish, and delicious pasta dishes, all served with panache in a style befitting such a hotel and the Aman brand. Breakfast was excellent with a varied menu for those bored of the usual staples, the Jams still stick with me, perfect homemade accompaniments to any worthy slice of toasted bread. Suffice to say that this was amongst the best food I enjoyed in Venice and I ate in many excellent restaurants. The ambiance however surpassed even the food. I have never experienced anywhere quite like these palatial rooms and the atmosphere created by their hugely high ceilings and beautiful fresco-filled walls, perfectly accompanied by the watery sounds drifting up through the windows on the breeze.
I’m aware I may be gushing, but deservedly so. I’m a city girl, a city girl who has been lucky enough to stay in the finest hotels in the cities I’ve visited, for me the Aman Canal Grande Venice is the best of those… yet.
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