There is only one way to arrive to the Hotel Danieli, and that is by boat.
Washed in pink and located waterfront on the lagoon of Venice, Danieli lives in the former Palazzo Dandolo residence and rests on the main promenade of Riva Degli Schiavoni. Long fashionable due to its proximity to the San Marco Piazza and Basilica, this popular boardwalk is traversed by most of Venice’s 20 million annual visitors.
Built by the noble Venetian family Dandolo in the 14th century, Palazzo Dandalo became a residence known for lavish parties and social functions. This central palazzo was first converted to a hotel in 1822, and today is comprised of three buildings as part of the Marriott International, Luxury Collection Hotels.
The building to the left of the main palazzo, Danieli Excelsior (added in the 20th century), and the building to its right, Casa Nuova (added in the 19th century), are bridged from the first floor above the main lobby. While the hotel is quietly elegant from the exterior, step through Danieli’s doors and you’ll be propelled back in time, expecting laced-up ladies in richly embroidered silks and brocades to swish across the lobby. Its extravagance is breathtaking—the setting casts a gilded glow comparable to candlelight, quickly rendering your iPhone’s soft-focus app redundant.
The contiguous lounge shares similar vaulted ceilings, its thick marble pillars guarding its delicate, yet unapologetically flamboyant, Venetian glass chandeliers. And the lobby bar itself is known as a James Bond point; at least two 007 movies are associated with the Danieli vestibule.
In the tiniest of details, the hotel’s embellishment is carried through to its guestrooms. Although each building has its own timely feel and unique trappings, they share the same luxurious touches. The 12 most exclusive rooms, centered in the main palazzo, are named the Dandolo Suites. Despite their recent refreshment by French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, they stay true to their aristocratic pedigree. Featuring spacious sitting areas, walk-in wardrobes, large marble bathrooms, Murano chandeliers, and precious fabrics by Rubelli weavers, the rooms also offer singular views.
Rooftop, the Restaurant Terrazzo Danieli serves Venetian cuisine in the city’s most magical setting. The highest dining terrace in Venice’s city centre looks out over the lagoon and the resplendent Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. For less formal meals, a new bistro called The Egg Nicola Batavia @ Hotel Danieli shares similar panoramic vistas, but with lighter decor and smaller dishes known as cicchetti—best served with glasses of local wine.
After losing yourself in the narrow pedestrian streets of Venice, indulging in a requisite gondola excursion, and filling your suitcase with memories of the floating city, your water taxi awaits. As you step onto your boat, hope for fog. Somehow the nebulous veil, with its somber and brooding weight, suits this majestic city, and perhaps the heaviness you feel for leaving it behind.