Former Hospice Is Venice’s Newest Five-Star Hotel
The building’s origins stretch back to 1272.
If there’s one thing that stands out amidst the ornate facades of Venice’s edifices it’s something new. The sea and its air are cruel neighbors for these ancient buildings—cracked, chipped, peeling, and even crumbling, such is the state of many a palazzo. And so even though the exterior of Ca’ di Dio, Venice’s newest five-star hotel, is restrained relative to its neighbors, its recent immaculate restoration has left it with a spotless facade ensuring it stands out on the lagoon.
It is also the latest selection for our series on exciting new hotels, The New Room with a View.
Located five bridges west of the Palazzo Ducale, Ca’ di Dio is housed in a large stuccoed building with unobstructed views out over the lagoon to Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore and its exquisite church designed by Palladio. On an evening with a particularly fiery sunset, the view from the hotel is unmistakable for fans of Monet’s paintings of the island at dusk.
The building’s origins stretch back to 1272 and was overhauled in 1544 by none other than Jacopo Sansovino, architect of the Logetta, the Biblioteca Marciana, and the Palazzo Dolfin Manin. At one point it was a place for pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land to stay and also a hospice for women who had been abandoned. In 2019 a complete overhaul of the property began, overseen by the designer and architect Patricia Urquiola. While the exterior is spruced up historic, inside is sleek and modern. The chapel has been transformed into the lobby with an enormous chandelier made up of more than 14,000 pieces of Murano glass and floors of polished red travertine that continue throughout the hotel. It is a space that is more Scarpa than cinquecento
The hotel is right in front of the Arsenale water taxi stop, but the entrance is very discreet with no signage around the curved glass automatic doors. (A side entrance for those willing to shell out for private water taxi can be found on the canal.) One of the more lovely things about the frontage of the hotel is that hawkers aren’t allowed in the plaza out front, unlike many of the other spaces along the water as you head towards San Marco.
The ground floor revolves around three internal courtyards with brick herringbone paths and even original wells. On this level one can find Essentia, the hotel’s restaurant, and the Alchemia bar, as well as the gym.
The final public spaces are all the way on top—two loggias with unobstructed views of the islands.
When it comes to rooms, Venetian hotels can sometimes go all in on the whole gothic excess, leaving the modern traveler who isn’t into all that feeling stuffy and maybe suffocated. The rooms in Ca’ di Dio are thoroughly contemporary but outfitted with the work of Italian artisans.
The 66 rooms are clad in blurry green-blue fabric panels—a nod to the murky blue waters that surround Venice. The windows are wrapped with large wood frames and from the bedside light fixtures to the lamps perched in the corner, all the lighting is hand-blown Murano glass. If you had any doubt red marble was back in, the sexy red marble vanity in the bathrooms won’t leave any doubt. (One of my favorite details also comes from the bathrooms—the flush panel for the toilets is covered match the wall.)
Rooms in the hotel, operated by VRetreats which also has hotels in Rome and Taormina, start in the low €200s.