A grand, Old World Venice palace
Ca’ Sagredo Hotel is a Italian national monument, but the Venice boutique hotel stands out for two other reasons: first, the meticulous preservation of the palace’s original frescoes, stuccoes, paintings, and other works of art, and its dazzling location on the Grand Canal just across from the famous Rialto market.
This palace-turned-hotel was restored after a dismal interlude as city offices and has now returned to its former splendor as one of Venice’s most impressive historic houses. Ca’ Sagredo was the home of the Sagredo family, a wealthy and influential family in the 17th and 19th centuries (the Venetians often called their palaces “Ca’,” short for “casa,” or house). They spent their money on irreplaceable works of art, many of which are still in place, proud emblems of the family’s wealth, culture and power.
Our Inspector’s Highlights
• The two-flight marble staircase designed by architect Andrea Tirali in 1734 ascends gracefully to the second floor, a majestic introduction to the ornate “portego,” or grand central hall.
• A secret door can still be made out on a wall in the Music Room; the staircase behind it led to the bedroom two stories above, designed for secret (or perhaps not very secret) trysts.
• The family tree of the Sagredos in the Sala del Doge was painted especially for the Venice hotel, each golden leaf noted with the important members of the family spanning three centuries.
• The narrow wooden waterside terrace, an addition to the Alcova restaurant, stretches the length of the luxury hotel along the Grand Canal and is almost at the waterline. Drinking or dining here gives a curious sensation of being on a boat.
• The small rooftop terrace is the perfect perch above Venice for admiring the amazing view above the Grand Canal while relaxing with a drink or light meal. It’s even better in the cool of a summer evening, where you can look down on the passing gondolas and the mysterious lights reflected in the water. The Terrace can also be booked for small private parties.
What to Know
• The typical Venetian traghetto, or gondola ferry, is at the front door, making it easy to traverse the Grand Canal — just like Venetians do — and get to the Rialto market.
• Young Italian chef Damiano Bassano has worked with famous chef Ferran Adria of the legendary El Bulli restaurant in Spain.
• A personal trainer is available to tailor a program for you, or accompany you on a run through Venice’s streets and along her canals.
• You can book a cooking class with sous chef Federico Morelli. It begins with a trip in the traghetto gondola across the Grand Canal to the Rialto Market to shop for fresh daily ingredients, which you will help prepare and finally eat during a meal on the rooftop terrace.
• As you walk through some of the public rooms, the Venetian classic “terrazzo” flooring will feel as if it is sloping rather than perfectly horizontal. There’s nothing to worry about — after 300 years that’s a sign of its authenticity. Venetian floors were constructed to be slightly flexible, which is one reason why dancing isn’t permitted at wedding festivities in the Music Room.
• One of the most unusual rooms in any hotel in Venice is the Library Suite, a bedroom set in the original library, which once contained 10,000 books. Galileo, the “father of science,” was a friend of Gianfrancesco Sagredo and often came here to study.
• The décor is opulent, but not over the top. Venetian in style with original architectural details, guest rooms are each designed differently but all have gilded accents, rich fabrics and a decidedly Old World feel.
• Several rooms on the inner courtyard have small private terraces, ideal for smokers, or just a quiet place outdoors to have room service.
• Many rooms have tufted velvet blanket chests at the foot of the bed, good for storing extra bedding and even better for sitting on.
• The dramatic frescoes of “The Fall of the Giants” covering the walls of the grand staircase, were painted in 1734 by Venetian artist Pietro Longhi.
• Breakfast is served not in the palace hotel restaurant, but on the second floor in two magnificent rooms, the Sala del Doge, named for doge (the ruler of Venice) Nicolo Sagredo in 1606, and the Sala del Tiepolo, where the ceiling is decorated with a fresco by world-famous 18th-century artist Giambattista Tiepol0.
• The gently inviting bar has a table lamp, which represents a richly dressed man holding the light aloft. He is a moretto, or “little Moor,” and is a common Venetian character also seen in paintings and even jewelry.
• All the art isn’t centuries old. The guardrail of the rooftop terrace is decorated with an exuberant flowerbox in which the large waving flowers are all original Murano glass.