The resonant name Kempinski carries impeccable credentials in the world of luxury hospitality. Kempinski Hotels is in fact Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group, having been established in Berlin in 1897. It now operates 78 luxury properties in 34 countries and counting. One of the jewels in its crown is the San Clemente Palace Kempinski in Venice, Italy, a five-star oasis of elegance and style on a private island 10 minutes by boat from St. Mark’s Square.
Recently rated Best Hotel in Venice by Condé Nast Traveler, San Clemente Palace Kempinski is indeed a palatial property, with jaw-dropping views of the lagoon and the historic city of Venice. A member the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World collection, the exclusive retreat offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of St. Mark’s Square and the surrounding canals and campos, which are usually thronged with tourists.
The hotel’s 196 rooms and suites, set in historic buildings, part of which were once a monastery, with graceful architectural details reinforcing the finest European traditions of luxury and hospitality, all overlook the lagoon or the hotel’s lush private park. Located on the grounds are a swimming pool, tennis court, fitness room, spa, church, and a curated collection of dining and drinking venues.
“San Clemente Palace Kempinski guests are tailor-made service seekers,” the hotel’s Selin Akyildiz tells us. “They demand cultural and intellectual satisfaction in their vacations a long with a serene and romantic escape.” To that end the hotel offers a number of cultural activations to complement the many wonders of the city itself, accessible via the Kempinski’s private motor launch.
The decor throughout evokes a private palace, with a mix of antique furniture, art and objets, alongside custom-made pieces and masterfully designed public spaces. It is in no way stuffy however, while the impeccable white-glove service guarantees every stay is relaxing, effortless, and utterly memorable.
The hotel’s poshest accommodation is the San Clemente Palazzo Three-Bedroom, named “Europe’s Leading Hotel Suite” by the World Travel Awards. A private palace-within-a-palace, the opulent suite offers picture windows running the length of every room, framing awe-inspiring views of Venice and the lagoon. It it a space rich with history and refined taste.
Spanning the entire floor of a secluded wing of the hotel, the suite pairs sophisticated modern furnishings with exposed timber ceilings, wooden pillars, and elaborate masonry original to the historic monastery. The interiors are finished with numerous bespoke details including custom Carrara marble, handmade silks and Murano glass fixtures.
The suite also has a full kitchen to facilitate entertaining or private dining, with a chef available to prepare meals, which can be served with famed Italian vintages from the suite’s own wine cellar. For an even more indulgent experience, the San Clemente Suite can be combined with another of the hotel’s top accommodations to form a massive private space housing numerous guests. Those in residence can come and go by gondola or boat via a private pier.
The Palazzo setup also comes with a dedicated Lady in Red, aka a coterie of private concierges that can be found at every Kempinski property, embodying everything the brand stands for and offering an unparalleled, personalized hospitality experience, “based on cultural empathy, intelligence and an understanding of each individual guest’s needs.”
Each Lady in Red is also a local expert who “knows everything there is to know about our hotels and destination cities.” Whether for a “special anniversary celebration, a surprise proposal or a once-in-a-lifetime family holiday, Ladies in Red draw upon their passion for craftsmanship, gastronomy and local culture to ensure visitors are perfectly equipped to create unforgettable memories every time they visit.”
Among the restaurant offerings at the five-star, Michelin-class property are Acquerello and Insieme, offering “exceptional interpretations of iconic Italian specialities,” as well as the super-cool Buddha-Bar Beach Restaurant & Pool Bar, offering Asian fusion cuisine, cocktails, wine and champagne by the picturesque private pool, among the chicest outdoor pool / restaurant / bar offering in all of Venice.
More than a mere restaurant, Buddha-Bar Beach at San Clemente Palace Kempinski is a “poolside lifestyle concept,” complete with a DJ and indoor and outdoor seating, surrounded by exotic palm trees known as the Palm Garden, bringing a contemporary, Asian-influenced vibe that is unique in Venice and extremely stylish.
Back in the main building meanwhile, the supremely elegant Clemente Bar is the preferred setting for classic cocktails, which can also be enjoyed outside in a private seating area with lounge furniture, or in front of the hotel and adjacent to the historic church and the hotel’s iconic dock. This is the ideal spot for the traditional aperitivo, preferably an Aperol Spritz.
This is a perfect perch for watching the epic sunsets, or merely the boats coming and going, and lunch and dinner are also served, with a wide-ranging palette of gourmet delicacies that express the finest of, of course, Italian but also European and Asian-influenced cuisine. An extensive wine list accompanies each seating as well.
It is perhaps no surprise that San Clemente Palace Kempinski is also famous for its exclusive spa, called the The Merchant of Venice Spa, frequently recognized as the best spa in Italy. Designed to be a “sanctuary of pure bliss” and an “oasis of luxurious indulgence,” the spa brings to bear Kempinski’s European flair and “century-old tradition of remarkable service,” with highly-trained masseuses and practitioners of the soothing and healing arts.
The Merchant of Venice Spa experience is one of profound relaxation and pampering of all the senses, thanks to a unique selection of aromatherapy massages, beauty and body treatments, and integrated fitness regimens. Spa guests frequently arrive from other parts of Venice for an afternoon of carefree indulgence.
If you have always wanted to visit Venice but have been put off by the prospect of immense crowds, a stay at San Clemente Palace Kempinski is the ideal way to enjoy everything the legendary city has to offer while taking advantage of a truly peaceful and private hospitality experience on par with any major European capital.