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The Westin Europa & Regina in Venice
History, design, photos and review of the luxury hotel on the Grand Canal
Article added on February 15. 2012
  
A history dating back centuries

The first Venetian Doge, Orso Ipato, was elected in 726. The history of the Venice hotel business dates back to the era of Pietro Orseolo, when the city became the commercial bridge between East and West. The former diplomat became Doge in 991. He declared Venice neutral between the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Constantinople. In the late 17the century, the Grand Tour was invented, mainly by wealthy English and German travelers, joined by American travelers in the 19th century. The Grand Tour comprised the historic sites to visit in the Mediterranean area, of which Venice was an essential part. In the 19th century, a series of Venetian palaces along the Grand Canal were transformed into hotels. Among them was the present hotel The Westin Europa & Regina.

The Westin is situated at the final stretch of the Grand Canal, where it broadens to become the Bacino di San Marco. The current hotel structure is composed of five 18th and 19th century palaces - Tiepolo, Cà Nova, Barozzi, Regina and Palazzina.

You can enter the luxury hotel either by boat from the Grand Canal or from Corte Barozzi. The marble and mosaic flooring was taken from the original design of the Scuolo di San Rocco. Chandeliers and Murano glass greet the guests as well as state of the art TV sets and high speed internet connections. The marble bathrooms offer Portuguese pink, Alpine green or Carrara white.

A renovation in 2009 by Irene Pansadoro Residential & Contract Interior Design in Rome brought back the splendor to 39 guestrooms. Handcraft furniture and materials revisited with a modern touch are the result. Bed headboards in Moorish style, crystal chandeliers from Murano, velvets, silks, lapis lazuli and inlaid furniture are among the most visible features.



Palazzo Tiepolo

The oldest part of the The Westin Europa & Regina is the Palazzo Tiepolo, which dates back to the late Renaissance. The site had belonged to the Badoer family, who can trace its history back to before 1000 A.D.

The Tiepolos were an old Venetian family too. Among their ancestors are two Dogi, Procuratori di San Marco, ambassadors and famous painters, 17th century Giambattista Tiepolo being the most famous. In 1310, Bajamonte Tiepolo, together with the Badoer, the Barozzi and the Querini families was involved in a conspiracy against the Republic of Venice, which ended in a blood bath.

Palazzo Tiepolo was built after the model of the Case a Toresele, which became the Case Fontego of the Venice merchants. The construction started with a central structure with the porta da acqua, flanked by two symmetrical wings were the storerooms were located and with a mezzanine, which housed the administration. The two “noble” floors had higher ceilings. Whereas the last and smallest floor was reserved to the servants. The left wing of Palazzo Tiepolo remained incomplete.

In addition to the Palazzo Tiepolo, Palazzo Regina, Palazzo Barozzi and Cà Nova and the Palazzina are full of history too. The Palazzo Barozzi-Emo-Treves de Bonfili was built in 1600 after a project by Bartolomeo Monopola. The Treves de Bonfili family restored the palace in 1827. The interior design was the work of Giuseppe Borsato, an artist very active in Venice. He also decorated the Palazzo Reale and the Teatro La Fenice. The Treves de Bonfili family owned two colossal statues by Antonio Canova: Ettore e Aiace.

The Palazzina Gaggia next to one of the wings of the Regina Palace was built in the second half of the 19th century. It was connected to the Palazzo Michiel Alvisi where, in 1875, a literary salon was founded by Katharine Bronson, which was frequented by the likes of Henry James and Robert Browning.

Palazzo Tiepolo was flanked by an ancient space (“squero”), a workshop for the construction of gondolas. It was the place where, from the 9th century onwards, an iron chain was attached, drawn between the two shores, which was part of the Venice system of defense against the incursions of pirates.

From the historic hotels to the present

In the second half of the 19th century, in the area of the
squero, a beautiful little palace was built, which became the Hotel Rome & Suisse, owned by P. Fenili. In 1900, it became the property of the Venice Hotels Limited, which already owned the Hotel Danieli, the Grand Hotel and the Hotel Vittoria. In 1906, this company constituted the base for the birth of the famous Campagnia Italian Grandi Alberghi (CIGA).

In 1938, CIGA bought the property of the Hotel Britannia, which had opened in 1869 as Hotel Barbesi. Under its new owner and manager, the German Karl (Carlo) Walther, i
t was renamed Hotel Britannia in 1881.

In 1938, CIGA changed the hotel name from Britannia to Hotel Europa & Britannia. Despite the same ownership, the Hotel Regina and the Hotel Europa & Britannia led separate lives side by side until 1979, when CIGA decided to merge the two hotels to build the current Hotel Europa & Regina. In 1998, the hotel became part of the Starwood Hotels and Resorts. In 2000, it joined the Starwood owned Westin brand (another Starwood hotel in Venice:
Hotel Danieli).



Claude Monet at the Hotel Britannia

On October 1, 1908, Claude Monet and his wife Alice arrived in Venice, where they first stayed as guests of the wealthy collector Mary Young Hunter at Palazzo Barbaro on the Grand Canal. Other guests at Palazzo Barbaro included John Sargent Singer and Henry James, both longtime friends of Claude Monet; in the 1880s, Sargent had purchased several paintings by Monet. After a few weeks, Claude and Alice Monet moved to Carlo Walther's nearby Hotel Britannia. In a letter, Alice Monet wrote on October 16, 1908: “We have finally arrived at Hotel Britannia, with a view, if such thing were possible, even more beautiful than that of Palazzo Barbaro...”

During his stay in Venice from October to December 1908, Claude Monet produced 37 views of Venice. His dealer Bernheim-Jeune later showed 29 paintings in the 1912 exhibition Claude Monet “Venise”. Alice Monet wrote daily to her daughter Germaine Salerou. Thanks to this correspondence, we have detailed knowledge of Monet's stay in Venice. Germaine Salerou's grandson, Philippe Piguet, published the letters in his 1986-book Monet et Venise (order the French book from Amazon.com or Amazon.fr).

From his hotel window, Claude Monet could observe several motifs of his art, including the 17th century Basilica Santa Maria della Salute, just opposite the Gran Canal.
Ask for room 456, where I stayed, with a large terrace overlooking the Grand Canal (Canalazzo for the Venetians). It does not get better than that! In addition to the Basilica Santa Maria della Salute, you can also overlook the former customs house, Punta della Dogana, which has been turned into a museum by the French billionaire François Pinault.

Incidentally, I remember my arrival package at room 456: A bottle of Villa Antinori 2007 with mainly Sangiovese grapes from the Toscana, together with a large fruit basket, panificioand pasticceria artiginale Giudecca with a Crema di Ortica made of olives and ortica. Enjoy!


Among the many famous return visitors at The Westin Europa & Regina, let's just mention the pianist Arthur Rubinstein, the film director Federico Fellini, the soprano Giulietta Simionato and the stylist and daughter of Pablo Picasso, Paloma Picasso.

The Austrian Emperor and his wife, the famous
Sisi, spent four months in Italy in 1856-57, staying at the Royal palaces in Milan and Venice (Brigitte Hamann: Elisabeth. Kaiserin wider Willen, Piper, 12th edition 2010). But, according to the General Manager of The Westin Europa & Regina, Giuseppe di Martino, Sisi may well have stayed at the hotel in the winter of 1861/62, when she spent several months in Venice with her children. Once finished, the thesis by Daniela Simionato may reveal new details.

Anyway, The Westin Europa & Regina is a luxury hotel full of history. Regularly modernized and renovated, it offers great views of the Canal Grande, second to no other hotel in Venice, Italy.

Sources: Own research, information provided by the hotel, a first outline of a thesis project by Daniela Simionato with the help of Maria-Elena Putz.


Grand Canal hotel façade.
Photos © The Westin Europa and Regina, Venice, Italy.


The hotel restaurant La Cusina (no typing error!) with its Grand Canal view. Executive chef: Alberto Fol. For breakfast, the restaurant offers a selection of loose tea. Details make a difference.
Photos © The Westin Europa and Regina, Venice, Italy.


Grand Canal view of the hotel. Photos © The Westin Europa & Regina in Venice, Italy. Order Venice art books from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de.


The terrace of the Deluxe Terrace Suite - Palazzo Ca' Nova. Photos © The Westin Europa & Regina in Venezia, Italia.


Deluxe Terrace Suite Living Room - Palazzo Ca'Nova. Photos © Hotel Westin Europa & Regina, Venice.
- Order Venice art books from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de.


Unique Grand Canal View Double - Terrace. Photo © The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice, Italy.


Unique Grand Canal View Double Room. Photo © The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice.



Deluxe Terrace Suite - Palazzo Regina. Photo © The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice.


View to the other side from the Deluxe Terrace Suite - Palazzo Regina. Photo © The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice.


The Tiepolo Bar. In the background, its terrace overlooking the Grand Canal. The Tiepolo Bar is the reign of Giorgio Fadda, the President of the Italian Barmen Association.
Photos © The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice.


The hotel lobby.
Photos © The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice.


View of the gym. Photo © The Westin Europa & Regina in Venice.


A Venetian Canal at night.
Photos © The Westin Europa & Regina in Venezia.
 


The terrace of the Deluxe Terrace Suite - Palazzo Ca' Nova. Photos © Hotel Westin Europa and Regina, Venice.


The nearby Piazza San Marco.
Photos © The Westin Europa & Regina Venice. - Order Venice art books from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de.