Check in at the Palazzo Papadopoli, or better know as Aman Canal Grande, one of the largest, privately owned palaces along the famous Grand Canale in Venice. NicolĂ˛ Papadopoli, a forebear of current owner Gilberto Arrivabene, was one of the richest Greeks in his time. Papadopoli bought this palace measuring more than 2000 square meters in the 18th century and left the designs and decoration to Michelangelo Guggenheim, a generous private garden with a view of the Canale Grande included. But times change and financial situations do too. The Arrivabene family lives nowadays on the top floor, just below the roof. While restoring their beloved palazzo they were on the look-out for a new destination and function for the empty building.
Then Aman Resorts came along and saw something in this exceptional location. After an intense, two-year-long renovation you can book now one of the 24 rooms and suites and mingle with the VIPs and famous names who like to call this home when staying in Venice. Why? Because the hotel is intimate and anonymous. Nobody looks up when a famous face is sipping from his glass of Prosecco (only when it’s Clooney, because who doesn’t want to know if he is drinking Nespresso or Martini?).
Arrival is with the elegant, custom made Aman boats via the side of the Grande Canal (the palazzo has a back entry too, accessing the wonderful San Polo neighbourhood). All guests enter through the formal “porta d’acqua”, because that is how it is done in La Serenissima. The reception hall (without actual reception desk) is a cool and powerful space with giant walls covered with carefully restored frescos. To the left is the huge garden with Japanese restaurant (the only green space along the Grand Canal, which belongs to a hotel), to the right is a huge staircase leading to the “piano nobile”, the most elegant room in the house. The gigantic ballroom is decorated with gilded mirrors, shimmering Murano chandeliers and frescoes by Cesare Rotta. A balcony opens onto the Grande Canale, in the building (next to the two gardens and the rooftop terrace) is the only place where one can smoke (Venice has a maniacal fear of anything that has to do with fire, even candles or open fires are prohibited).
The dĂ©cor is classic and flamboyant and is put in the spotlight thanks to the contemporary and Aman-style, minimalist furniture. Designer is the Belgian Jean-Michel Gathy, a big name in the international design hotel world but strangely unknown in his own country.
While our head is spinning from all the impressions and dimensions, a cool Spritz al Bitter is offered, perfect to handle temperatures of 35 plus degrees and humidity of above 80%.
Guests with a more royal budget bed down in one of five signature suites, like the Alcova Tiepolo Suite and Sansovino Stanza suite with original frescoes on the walls. Olivia Richli, the hotel manager, says that it is allowed to get lost in the palazzo. “Just like Venice, it’s just part of the deal and this way you get to know the more secret spots.”
Unlike sleeping in one of Venice’s other luxury hotels, staying at Aman Canal Grande feels like being invited in a private historic palazzo. Of course there is a serious price tag attached (one night here starts around 850 euros for a double room), But obviously this is not an obstacle for the guests of this magical palazzo. After all, this is Venice where over the top and flamboyant goes down very elegantly and money can buy you love and romance while cruising the Venetian waterways.