With Venice fit to burst into the madness that is the Venice Biennale in the coming week, those who had the foresight to book themselves the Palazzina Grassi will no doubt feel very pleased with themselves. Finding any visitor accommodation at all during the biennale’s relentless opening ceremonies and parties is a hard enough task. So anyone who has been smart enough to ferret out such a hospitable and chic hotel will probably feel doubly proud.
Located adjacent to Venice’s legendary Grand Canal, the concept behind the Palazzina Grassi is to offer comfortable and stylish accommodation that draws on the city’s salubrious heritage and an understated relaxed atmosphere. The intention is for guests to feel ‘at home’ at the Palazzina Grassi: an easy task for anyone whose home just happens to be a bijou little palazzo filled with objets d’art and clever design. For the rest of us, the benefit is in the change and soaking up the unique ancient quality that informs the hotel’s design; to accept the hotel’s invitation to become ‘temporary Venetians’.
The glass and mirrors for which Venice has been famed for centuries is one of the key motifs of the hotel. In the case of the former, stunning Murano glass works and numerous showpieces by the renowned glass artist Aristide Najean provide the central impact to the rich dark hues of the public areas, such as the PG’s Club Restaurant where chef Luigi Fracella works up contemporary takes on traditional regional fare in his transparent show kitchen.
For those in a more festive mood, there’s the chance to let off some steam in the Krug Lounge or even engage in a game of outdoor chess on the terrace with a view of the canals. With its warm brick hues and playful leather animal seating, it’s located in a part of the building that dates back to 1500 and is something of a secret late night haunt of locals and visiting celebrities in the know.
Mirror is the key material in the designs for the sumptuous rooms and suites. In a palette of cool white, ivory and highly reflective metals that complement the mirror theme, the approach has been to bring a luxurious version of contemporary simplicity to the rooms with their antique atmosphere and charm. Sleek contemporary furnishings with simple lines reinforce the airy light feeling in the rooms where the expansive use of mirror naturally pulls off the trick for which mirror is fabled. Even the more modest size rooms are turned into cavernous fairytale interiors. Here and there, carefully selected textiles or monochromatic print details are used on furniture and design objects to subtly connect the interior of the hotel with the famed heritage of the city without.
Those who have made the very sensible judgment of selecting the Palazzina Grassi during the biennale may also find additional benefits to their choice of accommodation. In keeping with its intention to make their guests feel entirely at home in the city, the hotel organizes a range of off-site dinners for its guests in the private homes of Venetian collectors and art dealers, connecting them directly to the historic lifeblood of the city. Such networks and insider knowledge could prove very helpful indeed to any visitor hoping to get the best out of the biennale.