VENICE, March 21, 2016 – Centurion Palace is an opulently stunning luxury hotel beautifully located at the entrance to the Grand Canal of Venice in the magnificently serene Dorsoduro sestieri, or district. Literally right next door to the Basilica Santa Maria de la Salute, this amazing property combines classic Venetian structures and architecture with contemporary furnishings and design elements to create one of Venice’s most fascinating 5-star hotels.
Located at the tip of Dorsoduro in Venice’s oldest neighborhood, this grand edifice was built on one of the two cloisters of the ancient San Gregorio convent in the historic “Pallazzo Genovese.” Part of the SINA collection of fine Italian hotels, and a distinctive member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Centurion Palace creates a luxurious wonderland, bringing the past into the sparkling present in one of Venice’s finest and most wonderful locations.
Approaching the hotel entrance off the enchanting Campo di San Gregorio, one soon discovers the canals in the surrounding neighborhood are bucolic wonders of changing light and tides. Centurion Palace is just down the alleyway from another of Venice’s crown jewels, the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and its astonishing treasure trove of modern art.
The enclosed courtyard at the entrance to the hotel provides a panoramic view of its architecture — a three-sided U shaped structure leading to the spectacular open air grand foyer, and an elegantly romantic outdoor patio situated along the Grand Canal.
The lobby is a thing of beauty, with a giant Murano glass sculpture of the hull of a gondola providing a glittering white chandelier that has a matching white Murano glass front desk. The effect is stunning.
Contemporary pointillist paintings by Gavin Rain adorn the walls at the front desk, especially a surreally gorgeous painting of November 1972 Playboy Playmate Lena Soderberg and a digitally deconstructed Marilyn Monroe.
The playful artistic stylings of the hotel and its use of space as exemplified by the paintings, chairs, sculptures, and overall design, are almost like an extension of the Peggy Guggenheim Museum itself.
Centurion Palace has 50 rooms and suites decorated with parquet floors and contemporary couches and furnishings, including notably unique lamps, all specially designed for the hotel.
Standard and deluxe rooms are in the two wings of the hotel that offer courtyard views. These rooms are distinctively furnished with plush beddings and are quite stylish and comfortable.
8 junior suites and 4 full suites overlook the Grand Canal offering rooms that can only be described as overwhelming. Sweepingly gorgeous 21 foot ceilings with broad wooden beams are contrasted with Venetian cloth wall coverings and bespoke, designed furniture of contemporary design.
The Presidential Suite is a palace unto itself, with two bedrooms, massive ceilings, opulent furnishings and a lengthy balcony above the Grand Canal with views that are simply extraordinary.
Quiet and charming, the Dorsoduro sestieri of Venice is one of the most sublime districts in the city, with shops and restaurants strewn about a warren of small alleyways and streets.
Just a few blocks from the hotel on one side is the aforementioned and world-renowned Peggy Guggenheim Museum. Just on the other side of Santa Maria de la Salute Cathedral is the newly restored contemporary art museum Punta della Dogana, situated at the very tip of Venice.
As the sun goes down, the reflection of light up and down the Grand Canal is a gorgeous display of color and movement. The open air patio just off the lobby along the Grand Canal is a perfect spot for enjoying pre-dinner drinks and champagne.
The fine dining restaurant Antinoo’s, just off the side of the lobby, has a warm and welcoming lounge decked out in deep colors of Venetian red and orange next door to an elegant dining area of similar design.
This leads into an exceptionally lovely dining room set in soothing shades of all white, under ancient beamed ceilings, with a futuristic “Clockwork Orange” inlaid “Moloko Bar” creamy white motif wall pattern, all to beautiful effect.
Like the rest of the hotel the design features of Antinoo’s combine classic and modern themes that work both on a design and an aesthetic level. The bar in the red room, for example, is a picture frame where the bartender appears to be the subject of a painting.
The cuisine at Antinoo’s is simply exceptional, a classic Venetian menu with consistent touches of culinary innovation.
A selection of wild mushrooms with radicchio and celery root is aromatic and delightful, the crisp varietals of mushrooms pungent with flavor and texture.
Gnocchi of beetroots with broccoli cream, scallops and black truffle is spectacular, the gnocchi perfectly cooked and the visual splendor almost as good as the sublime and delightful taste.
Seafood Tagliolini is a work of art, succulent lobster, shrimp and mussels in a subtle tangy sauce wrapped into a rich, steaming tagliolini of extraordinary flavor. A classic but phenomenal dish, it could easily be devoured in pairs.
Branzino with a ginger–aromatised cream of carrots and crispy celery petals is a fitting climax to a sensational meal, the branzino crisp and perfectly cooked, the fish flaky and firm, the flavors incandescent.
The evening takes on a special glow with a bottle of fine Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany. Service is exquisite and precise as the night comes to a close in a gentile flurry of deserts and coffee lingering into the afterglow.
Following a sumptuous dinner, gazing out across the open patio along the Grand Canal is to glimpse the serenity and ongoing timelessness of the ages. Motoscarfo and Gondola make their way along the ancient waterway of this blessedly unique place, as thousands of years meld into this one moment of convergence.
Centurion Palace captures that emotional heart with a glorious hotel and experience that transcends the ages with classic architecture, stunning contemporary design, and luxury accommodations in the midst of Venice’s most beautiful setting.
Rooms start at around $500 a night, Junior Suites are about $800 per night, Deluxe Junior Suites with Grand Canal views start at around $1200, Deluxe suites with Grand Canal views are about $2000, while the Presidential Suite with all the trimmings can be had for a tidy $3400 a night.
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles. @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds @BigAlPeoplesPal