The Bauer Hotel – Reviewed by Christine Jenner
The chilly and damp English spring felt a million miles away as a hazy sun bathed the small campo in the busy San Marco area. The Bauer Hotel sits at right angle to the Chiesa di San Moisè and the contrast in styles could not be greater. Where every inch of the exuberant façade of this Baroque church is decorated with swags, urns and busts, the Bauer projects an understated elegance and simplicity. Being a frequent visitor to Venice I’ve passed through this little campo many times but it was a new experience to enter the spacious reception area. The glass and marble of this impressive area contains little clusters of stylish deco style tables and chairs and the ambiance whilst sophisticated is not stiffly formal. Friendly staff welcomed me and I was graciously escorted to my comfortable and stylish room with large windows and doors to a Juliet balcony. The room basked in the late afternoon sun as I leaned out to watch tourists embarking on gondola rides.
I took breakfast early next day and was shown to a table by a large window with an unobstructed view of the Church of the Salute – quite the best breakfast view I have ever had. The buffet breakfast was abundant and the service from the smiling staff unobtrusive and efficient. Watching the city come to life on the water captured my attention and I was in no rush to move away from this wonderful spot. I can imagine that the terrace of the Bar Canale in summer is an appealing place to meet for drinks and I understand weekend night owls are also catered for in the hotel’s striking BBar where you can enjoy live music and indulge in a creative cocktail or two.
The gothic façade of the adjoining hotel, Bauer Il Palazzo, faces the Grand Canal and here the style of the rooms, many overlooking the water, have a more traditional Venetian style. The admirable attention to detail means that the style of the rooms is eclectic, some having beautifully designed fabric-covered walls with carefully chosen items of antique furniture and paintings, some with a more exotic or contemporary feel. There is a range of suites: some with Grand Canal views, others with views over the city and eastwards over the Riva degli Schiavoni and guests can enjoy breakfast on the panoramic Settimo Cielo breakfast lounge and terrace. The Royal and Presidential Suites are dazzling both in terms of décor and facilities and have private terraces and every convenience the discerning guest could wish for.
I had not spent much time on the Giudecca on my previous visits to Venice but it is experiencing its own renaissance with small artisan workshops and studios opening to compliment the already-vibrant contemporary art scene in the city so I was keen to see the Bauer properties there. Under a pale blue sky we took the short journey by the Bauers own complimentary shuttle boat from Il Palazzo to the Palladio Hotel and Spa on the Giudecca. Here a more tranquil but no less stylish Venice awaited us. Internal features of this historic building have been sympathetically restored to harmonise with Palladio’s classical architectural lines and fabrics and furnishings in muted pastels add to the calm but sophisticated atmosphere in this historic building. The post-treatment relaxation room is positioned to offer an unrivalled view over the Giudecca canal towards San Marco. I can imagine no better place to bliss out after enjoying one of the extensive range of spa experiences. Guests of all Bauer properties can enjoy the L’Ulivo restaurant and Bar al Chiostro in this perfect Venetian haven. The Palladio Hotel has 79 rooms including 29 in the Conventino, a beautifully converted building a short stroll through the three and a half acre garden. This carefully planted and tended area offers the most valuable commodity of all in what is a densely inhabited city – that of space. Here, even in this interminable winter, the promise of summer was visible and when the rose trellises and borders are in full bloom I can imagine that the view from the terrace will be gorgeous.
We wandered through the garden to the Villa F, a beautifully converted sixteenth century building of 11 residenze with a variety of possible configurations. Some of these one and two bed apartments (with fabulously designed and decorated bathrooms) have custom designed kitchens and some offer direct access to the garden. A meditation pool at the end of the garden further enhances this perfect oasis of calm and refinement. Francesca Bortolotto Possati is the owner and CEO of the Bauers and her sense of style and flair for design are obvious in the wealth of exquisite features in every room of this outstanding property. The fabrics and furnishings are an intriguing mixture of antique and modern pieces carefully chosen to complement each room. As in all the Bauers properties the products and workmanship are mainly sourced locally. To quote from one of their own publicity “It is important to the Bauers to pay tribute to what came before us and honor the legacy of tradition as a way of assuring a prosperous future.”
As a full-on Venetophile I applaud and support this undertaking. The Palladio Hotel and Spa and Villa F mean that you can enjoy the hustle and bustle of the main tourist areas of Venice, and then retreat to your own oasis of space and tranquillity on the Giudecca.
I must make a special mention of the wonderful range of toiletries used in all the Bauer properties – Santa Maria degli Angeli. Made by the inmates of the women’s prison on Giudecca – an initiative that has been close to Mrs Bortolotto Possati’s heart and in which she takes a close interest – they are lightly scented, produced by hand and suitable for the most sensitive of skin, by that I mean mine! This is another indication of the importance placed by the Bauers on Venetian traditions and the continuing sustainability of this wonderful city.
The problem I now face is that of choosing in which of the Bauers I should stay on my next trip to Venice…
Bauer Hotel, San Marco 1459 – 30124 Venezia
Tel: + 39 041 5207022 Fax: + 39 041 5207557