The big trip

Baglioni Hotel Luna review: the glamorous redesign of Venice’s oldest hotel

In the heart of the City of Water, next to Piazza San Marco, you won’t find a better location

Venice has an intangible magic. The canals coursing between the 118 islands on which it is built, and under the almost 400 bridges connecting them, are alive with the sea tides – bustling with boats and gondolas, they remain the lifeblood of the city even today. This unique geographical vantage point and a bold spirit of trade made Venezia Europe’s leading financial and maritime power during the Renaissance and Middle Ages, but it’s the City of Water’s unearthly beauty that has been eternalised in culture. Its architecture that defies gravity, vibrant traditions and romance continues to inspire artists, playwrights, poets and musicians, as it has done since the days of Shakespeare and Voltaire.

Dating back to the 12th century, Baglioni Hotel Luna is the oldest hotel in Venice – beginning its life as a church and playing host to the Knights Templar of the Crusades in 1118. By 1574, the property was already known as “Locanda della Luna”, the Inn of the Moon. The luxurious mansion that now stands on those same foundations has evolved far from its humble origins. Newly reopened following a redesign by Italian studio Spagnulo & Partners, complete with a new spa and restaurant, the property is located in Venice’s beating heart – just seconds away from the Piazza San Marco.

The San Giorgio Terrace Suite at Baglioni Hotel Luna Venice

Master bedroom of the San Giorgio Terrace Suite

Baglioni Hotels

Why stay here?

When arriving by water taxi or gondola, you’ll reach a modest flower edged jetty, where the hotel’s “portieri” will welcome you. But as you step inside, the unassuming façade will open into a vast interior of opulence, filled with the craftsmanship and artistry the proud region is known for. In the receptional hall, antique Murano glass chandeliers hang from the ceiling, casting their warm radiance on faces below. Under foot, geometric pieces of marble in rich earth tones pave the cool floor. Each of the gilded 91 rooms and suites exudes glamorous sophistication, in a way that only the Venetians can when using that much gold. From lighting to sumptuous silk bedding, each deliberate detail and material has been chosen to reflect the city’s eclectic history.

Hotel Luna’s unrivalled location is reason enough to stay. The mansion is a 30-second stroll from Piazza San Marco –  one of the most renowned historical sites in Italy. The Doge’s Palace, Napoleon’s palace and Basilica di San Marco all line the square. The only piazza in Venice (all the other squares are called “campi”), it was the social, religious and political heart of the city. It’s the start point for the annual Carnival of Venice and, if you are fascinated by Venice’s trading history, you’ll be interested to know that the point at which the square opens to the lagoon, framed by two huge pillars, is where the entrance to the Silk Road began. Insider tip: never walk between the pillars. Locals never will and it’s supposed to bring bad luck.

The magnificent Marco Polo ballroom at Baglioni Hotel Luna in Venice

The magnificent Marco Polo ballroom

Baglioni Hotels

Eating and drinking 

You must take breakfast in the magnificent Marco Polo ballroom, even if it’s just to oggle the walls. It was painted with frescoes by talented students of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo in the 18th century, one of the world’s greatest fresco painters. Incredible works of art adorn the entire pink and blue hued room.

For an intimate evening, dine at Canova – the hotel’s new fine dining restaurant. Run by Michelin-starred chef Claudio Sadler, it has a small number of covers and is the ideal place to steal away inside. The service is exceptional – striking the perfect balance between ever present but never fussy. The menu uses seasonal Venetian produce to create light, delicious dishes presented with creativity and artistry. As it’s just opened, it doesn’t have a Michelin star yet, but if his other restaurant at the Baglioni in Sardinia is anything to go by – it might soon.

If you love seafood, head to Ristorante Do Forni – approximately a five-minute walk away. When you arrive, don’t be surprised if it appears empty, because the real fun is in the back of the restaurant and hidden from the pathway. Order the grilled scampi and scallops with a fresh rocket salad to start (Scampi e capesante Manin, su un letto di rucola). Dressed simply with olive oil and lemon, this antipasti really allows the delicate sweetness of the fresh shellfish to sing. 

The San Giorgio Terrace at Baglioni Hotel Luna in Venice

The San Giorgio Terrace

Baglioni Hotels

What to do

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, La Biennale di Venezia has returned for the first time since 2019. Running until 27 November, this exhibition was established in 1895 and stands at the forefront of contemporary art. The Biennale alternates between art and architecture – hence the word “biennial” in its name. Every second year, hundreds of artists descend upon two locations in the city, the Giardini and Arsenale, to fill them with powerful and fantastical creations. This 59th edition is curated by Cecilia Alemani, the first Italian woman to hold the title, and exhibits the work of 213 artists from 58 countries. This year’s theme is “The Milk of Dreams”, inspired by a book by Leonora Carrington: a surreal and magical world, where life is continually re-imagined. Everyone can change, be transformed, or become something or someone else.

The hotel itself also arranges cultural activities, from the gold experience to visit the last gold beaters in Venice (Mario Berta Battiloro), to the carnival all-year-round experience.

After a day of adventure, at night take a moment to stand outside the hotel and look up at the sky. Hotel Luna has its name for a reason. Depending on the time of month you visit, you may see a white glowing orb above the Grand Canal. It’s the perfect spot for a pre-dinner photo. Perhaps it’s the sea air that heightens the senses, but it does seem that even the moon shines brighter in Venice.

How to book

Rates start from £257 per night. If you are seeking something extra special, enquire about the San Giorgio Terrace Suite. It will be more costly, but it’s a two-bedroom apartment with its own 100 sqm terrace and some of the best views over the piazza and the San Giorgio Maggiore island. See baglionihotels.com

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