A billion hotels have probably been refurbished over the past ten years, sadly a lot have lost their character as a result. The same way collagen and fillers have done for actors. Every gleaming lobby interior, feature wall, philip stark me-too touches makes everywhere as predictable as the next. A too rich design diet that is so clinically cool it makes you feel awkward when you're freshly crumpled from the plane.
The Gabrielli is an antedote to all this. It makes a charming case against oligarchically-fed tastelessness. Don't get me wrong, of course Venice has always been showy. The ego alley of the grand canal case in point. I just preferred how they did it back then. The Danielli is close by and my jaw drops every time I enter, as does the Ca'Sagredo, but I'm not quite in that price bracket.
The Gabrielli is still full of history, a congregation of townhouses adjoining a palazzo which is why it makes it an intriguing warren. A very pleasant and empty garden suspends the bustle outside. There's a bit of noise outside at the front in the mornings but it's good to feel the buzz of the place and I'm sure it'd have been quieter if we took a room with a balcony on a higher floor. Besides, we had the view and I'd have been happy if it were my last. It's far more important to choose your view over your room when you plan a trip to Venice, we've come five times.
I can't vouch for the evening restaurant but the quasi-buffet breakfast offered fresh fruit salad, cheeses, eggs, cereals, yoghurts, bread and the toaster - (more of a social epicentre than the bar was at sundowner time.) The table you're given, seems based largely on how happy the maitre'd is to see you, smiling I think helps more than believing you're minor royalty.
The room decor is dated but it felt welcoming and strangely reassuring. If he wouldn't have stayed at the Cipriani I could imagine Don Draper of Mad Men slapping on his cologne while Betty sucked on a Stuyvesent at the window. I too had taken a linen suit with me for our stay in high July. It made our break feel even more of an escape.
Without fail we soaked up every evening on the sunbaked roof terrace (there's new furniture), gazing out over the terracotta rooftops while the occasional monster cruise liner passed by draining into the Med. I'm told I'm not always the greatest conversationalist so this view suited me fine, you just want to drink it all in. There's no bar man up there so get them downstairs (or shh from a shop in the backstreets)
We also met the gracious elderly owner on occasion, (possibly Austrian) who's perhaps a bit wistful and probably not holding the reins these days, but we couldn't help wondering what stories she could tell.
So if you want every modern bell and whistle, drone-like staff efficiency, scripted service, achingly hip/overly duplicated furniture don't stay here. If you like Las Vegas don't stay here. If you don't get that you pay for the view not just the room, check in elsewhere. If it's the only time you'll visit / a honeymoon and really want to splurge/impress consider the Danielli, the Gritti or the Bucintoro.
Yes it's still pricey on the face of it but there are good deals here, besides the only competitor for the view I'd say is the Buccintoro - a little further away and now sadly done up to the nine's (and minus a roof terrace unless you take the penthouse.)
Either way you'll find you're in a better part of town with more Venetians speaking Italian than tourists round about.
We'll be going back and hope to find precisely the same.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The 4-star Hotel Gabrielli, a Venetian Palazzo from the 14th century is family owned in the 5th generation. Only a few minutes walk from Saint Mark’s square, the Doge’s Palace, the Basilica of St. Mark and the Arsenale offers a fantastic location on the waterfront and excellent views on the laguna. Inhouse restaurant with venetian cuisine and Bar. Don't miss the roof terrace and the regarden to relax from a busy day. Private boat pier. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Gabrielli Sandwirth Hotel
- Gabrielli Sandwirth Venice
- Hotel Gabrielli Sandwirth