VENICE, ITALY, August 27, 2015 – The Bauers Il Pallazzo is a wondrously magnificent luxury hotel overlooking the mouth of the Grand Canal in the heart of the San Marco district of Venice, mere steps from St. Mark’s Square. Actually a collection of spectacular boutique properties, The Bauers consists of the classic Venetian landmark Il Palazzo, connected to the modern designed art deco themed L’Hotel.
Two additional properties are across the lagoon on the island of Giudecca, the lovely Bauer Palladio Hotel and Spa and its 3 acres of gardens on the grounds of a converted 16th-century convent, and the ultra-exclusive Villa F for extended stays in luxury private apartments.
Under the guidance of visionary owner Francesca Bortolotto Possati, The Bauers have transformed the landscape of 5 star Venetian hotels, following a family tradition that dates back to her grandfather, Arnaldo Benatti, in 1930. It was then that the Ligurian shipping tycoon married Francesca’s Venetian grandmother, and purchased the original landmark Bauer Hotel that was built in the 1860’s.
The Bauers is perhaps the most elegant hotel collection in Venice, each property distinctively designed, with opulent finishing touches that make clear the truth in the old saying “life is in the details”.
The original wing, Il Palazzo, overlooks the mouth of the Grand Canal and the splendor of Santa Maria della Salute Cathedral.
With 36 suites and 36 rooms filled with opulent Venetian touches at every turn, a gorgeous façade along the lagoon, and polished wood surfaces everywhere, Il Palazzo connects to the great traditions of this ancient city.
The art deco themed L’Hotel was designed in the 1940’s but retains a thoroughly modern look even today, with a beautiful marble façade and stunning high ceilinged lobby leading from the luxury shopping district on the street to the inner confines of Il Palazzo along the canal.
When it opened in the 1940’s it was notable as the first hotel in Venice to have air conditioning.
Guests at the Bauers can choose the more modern design of L’Hotel, the Venetian tradition of Il Pallazzo, or the privacy and splendor of The Palladio and Villa F.
A private motoscarfo is available to ferry guests between the properties in Venezia and The Palladio and Villa F on the nearby island of Giudecca, next door to the iconic Cipriani Hotel.
The rooms in Il Palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal are stunning, with intricate red and gold damask cloth covering the walls, 12 foot ceilings, Murano glass chandeliers, antique furniture, and the atmosphere of Venice in the 1800’s.
A carved gilt-edged headboard on the king size bed is set against a mirrored wall. The bathroom is all white marble and gold fixtures, with lovely porcelain sinks and a marble Jacuzzi bathtub.
The view from the window is heavenly, looking directly across from the Punta della Dogana, the Dogana dela Mare Museum, and Santa Maria della Salute Cathedral. Across the lagoon several hundred yards is the gleaming basilica of The Paladio and Villa F on the island of Guidecca.
Staying here is like being in the palace of a Doge, or at the fanciest hotel ever concievable. It is easy to imagine the cream of Venetian society and the international jet set staying here across the decades. A seamless blend of old and modern styles, Art Deco and classic Venetian, each property that makes up the Bauers makes the sum of the overall experience far greater than the parts.
The Presidential suite in Il Palazzo is a wood-paneled extravaganza with absolutely stunning views of Piazza San Marco and the Camponille. The Royal Suite overlooking the Grand Canal is a spectacle of white damask and opulent furnishings.
Rooms in L’Hotel combine an Art Deco flair with intimate balcony views of the surrounding gondola filled canals, ancient churches, and pedestrian bridges above a bustling square.
Breakfast at Il Palazzo is on a 7th-floor rooftop solarium overlooking all of Venice, with an extended rooftop marble floored patio and a wooden deck overlooking the canal.
The breathtaking views extend to the islands far past Guidecca and across the heart of Venice, the Camponille, of St. Marks Basilica and beyond.The grand fundamente along the Molo Rive Degli Schiavone extends to the tip of Venice, and the Armory in the distance.
Seagulls and pigeons gather on the railings as awestruck guests linger in the cool Venetian morning air, taking in the 360 degree views.Dinner at the fine dining restaurant De Pisis is an amazing affair, under the direction of Executive Chef Hiraki Masakatsu, who brings delicate and innovative Japanese touches to traditional Venetian cuisine.
Tonight Sous Chef Sirio Mignucci is at the helm of an 8-course tasting menu of delicacies paired with samplings of their proprietary wines Collio del Friuli and Isonzo del Friuli.
De Pisis is exceptionally elegant, set on the ground floor in its own section of the hotel along the Grand Canal. A red themed bar area at the entrance with comfortable art deco seating leads to a grand reception area.
Green and gold silk damask cloth covers the walls throughout the entryway, giving way to a truly stunning dining chamber with gold damask walls and a full ceiling of aquamarine marble.
Surrounded by water on three sides, with a patio and deck along the Grand Canal for dining in warm weather, it is one of the most gorgeous dining rooms in Venice with one of the greatest views on the planet.
Smoked duck on a pomegranate jelly sphere with a marron glaze is exceptional, the duck tender and meaty, the sweet pomegranate a perfect counterpoint to the smoky duck. Portions are on the petite side, befitting a tasting menu, and the cumulative effect is just enough of each dish to leave you wanting more.
Sauteed scallops with carrots and ginger are lovely, beautifully crisply glazed on the outside, succulent and juicy on the inside. Pumpkin gnocchi with Gorgonzola soft cheese and amaretto with balsamic is fantastic, the gnocchi perfectly cooked, the rich pumpkin flavor exploding in the mouth with each bite.
Squid risotto in its own black ink is nothing short of a revelation, stunningly delicious, impeccably brilliant, each spoonful more delightful than the one befor.e It would be easy to consume several servings of this alone.
Rockfish in a seafood broth is a perfect climax to an incredible parade of culinary delights, the crust beautifully glazed, the inside firm and flaky, the taste rolling across the tongue in a confluence of tender richness.
Service is precise and impeccable, with a staff that in many cases has been here for 30 or 35 years. A newcomer might only be on the job 15 years. A flurry of deserts, including a marvelous tangerine sorbet with a mouse of champagne, puts the finishing touches to an extraordinary dining experience.
Chef Masakatsu has crafted in his version of De Pisis a fabulous blend of Japanese touches and traditional Venetian cuisine in a stirring setting that will be remembered long after the meal is finished.
A private motoscarfo makes the lovely passage from the pier at The Bauers to the nearby exclusive island of Giudecca, the spacious grounds of the Palladio Hotel and Spa, and the exotic confines of Villa F.
Next door to the famed Cipriani Hotel, the Palladio takes a centuries old abandoned convent and turns it into an ultra-exclusive companion piece to the luxury, privacy and celebrity of its famous neighbor, but with its own flair and distinctive panache.
Suddenly Giudecca has two very exclusive hotels that complement each other with exquisite restaurants, but Palladio also has a history dating back to the 16th century, stunning architecture, acres of gardens and open space, as well as an exclusive spa center.
The main building is impeccable in its elegance and serenity, and rooms overlooking the open water or the cloisters are beautifully designed.
Villa F is so exclusive it isn’t even open to visitors of any kind, for the sake of the privacy of its guests, which only adds to the elegance factor, bringing the special magic of a new and exotic hidden retreat to complement the image and serenity that Giudecca is so well known for.
A trip back across the lagoon brings into perspective the pure beauty and majestic elegance of The Bauers and its prominence across both sides of the Venetian lagoon. Approaching the dock across the open water past a dreamscape of landmarks along the Grand Canal, the majestic beauty of Il Palazzo looms above the motoscarfo at dockside.
The days merge in a stream of joyous indulgence as the time at The Bauers Il Palazzo comes to an end. On a glorious last morning the 360 degree views of the Venetian skyline from the rooftop breakfast patio are plastered against an impossibly blue sky.
Like Venice itself, The Bauers is a unique, indeed irreplaceable part of the city and its culture, a treasured landmark among grand Venetian hotels, and a truly wondrous and unforgettable destination unto itself.
Rooms start at about $650 a night, with luxury suites in Il Palazzo overlooking the Grand Canal starting at around $2400 per night.
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles. @JoelBerliner
All photos by Alison Reynolds. @BigAlPeoplesPal