With its lagoon islands, bridges and canals, Venice is Europe’s floating city, a unique space steeped in history and art. Founded in the fifth century, it is also a majestic museum-city and for time immemorial, tourists, traders, celebrities, writers and painters have flocked to its waterways and grand hotels. So much so in fact, that during peak season, visitors can outnumber the local population.
With so much to admire, it’s difficult to fit it all in – especially given that this is a city where a surprise or striking distraction – maybe a bridge or a statue – presents itself at every corner. Tired feet are almost guaranteed. Fortunately, in a city that has been somewhat lacking in spas until very recently, help is at hand.
AMAN CANAL GRANDE VENICE
Having opened to much fanfare in June during the city’s famous arts Biennale, Aman’s latest European venture, Aman Canal Grande Venice, is comprised of not one, but two traditional buildings, one of which is a 16th-century palazzo, built by the architect Gian Giacomo dé Grigi. Those staying arrive on a boat and move seamlessly from a dedicated miniature jetty into the splendour of the palazzo entrance hall, which, oozing Italian rococo style, is rich with frescoes.
Amanresorts’ trademark of chic minimalism shines through, contrasting effectively with the elaborate Italian grandeur of neo- renaissance style, apparent throughout the resort and in all of the 24 unique suites. Located right on the Grand Canal, there is an appealing garden terrace that affords al fresco dining in relatively private surrounds, along with a second ‘private garden’ hidden by tall trees. Both offer a rare treat in Venice where public gardens are hard to come by.
Spa-goers ascend a tiny, but romantic, staircase to the third floor of the serene Garden Building, where treatment rooms, with low ceilings for a feeling of sanctuary, provide the setting for therapies.
For a classic wind-down treatment, the signature Aman Massage is hard to beat. Using a blend of Swedish massage, reflexology, energy work and essential oils, the massage rebalances and promotes a sense of deep, relaxation making it ideal for post-sight- seeing and jet-lag recovery. All in all, this is a cleverly conceived space offering a wonderful range of therapies, making it a welcoming addition to the city’s spa scene.
PALLADIO HOTEL & SPA
Located on the quiet island of Giudecca, the classical palladio Hotel & Spa was designed by world-renowned Renaissance architect Andrea palladio in the 16th century. Originally a convent, the hotel retains a quiet, understated atmosphere, despite being home to fifty elegant guest rooms, many of which have unbeatable lagoon views and unique tapestries.
The Spa, which spans eight rooms over two floors, is noted as one of the very best in the city, and rightly so. With views of St Marks, it offers a variety of first-class wellness therapies. The unique ‘Angel Neck and Back Massage’ is both effective and revitalising. For this ritual, the therapist utilises hot chilli pepper cream to complement vacuum therapy, which is combined with a deep tissue massage, hot towel treatment and Tibetan bell massage.
The hammam treatments are also recommended, especially when combined with a Chrystal volcanic mask, which helps to detoxify, reduce fluid retention and improve the immune system. There is also a double Obermaier Jacuzzi, holistic Vitalis Bath and a range of couple’s treatments. The Oriental therapies are worthy of note and include ‘pinda bamboo massage’ and ‘sea Malay massage’, the latter of which promises relief from tensions caused by ‘interpersonal relationships’.
One of the few hotels to offer garden space, there are three gardens here, which lie peacefully behind the 16th century Zitelle complex, where there were once vineyards and orchards. Deckchairs are lined around the roses and meadow flowers, making it an ideal space for relaxing.
When you’re revitalised and ready to explore again, there’s a private boat to take you across the water to the main sights or to the fashionable sister hotel, Il palazzo, which stands right on St Mark’s Square. A popular choice for models, starlets and the subtly wealthy, this is probably the most peaceful and comforting hotel in Venice.