From my bed I can see Venice's oldest church, Santa Maria della Salute, just across the Grand Canal which laps at the hotel's restaurant below. The hotel's in the heart of the artistic and theatre district. The city's most famous landmark, St Mark's Square, is a three-minute stroll away. How's that for central?
Made up of not one … but five… 17th-century palaces, staying at the Westin Europa & Regina Hotel feels like you're starring in a movie, little wonder so many have been filmed here. It has the largest private terraces in all of Venice, which were used to film The Talented Mr Ripley. Gondoliers pull up right outside the hotel, the lobby with its black and white marbled flooring and glass chandeliers has all the charm of well… five 17th-century palaces. But the real star is the views from the hotel's restaurant, bar and premium rooms across the world's most famous canal.
Rooms vary from Classic Singles to Deluxe Terrace Suites, but they all come with the Westin's Heavenly Bed, with its custom-designed pillow-top mattress set and down blanket. Rooms have oak floors, damask-silk walls, glass chandeliers, flat-screen TVs, high-speed internet access and satellite TV. Bathrooms come with White Tea Bath amenities.
The only areas that seem small in this entire hotel are the elevators (a common European "problem"). For an historic Venetian hotel there's so much space I'm not sure what to do with it all. I think it's being located right on the canal that gives it such an open feeling. On the ground floor once you make it past the lobby everything looks out across the water. The restaurant and bar never feels crowded – even at peak meal times.
If you'd like to sample local seafood at its best – dine here. Sure, the hotel has a nutrient-rich SuperFoodsRx menu for the calorie-conscious but this is Italy … so indulge. Executive chef Alberto Fol is one of Venice's most renowned chefs. Restaurant La Cusina offers buffet breakfast and a la carte lunch and dinner on a terrace by the Grand Canal. There's a broad selection of choices for lunch, which even includes burgers ($38) and sandwiches ($30), though be sure to try the fried calamari with tartar sauce and vegetable tempura ($34). At dinner there's a broader selection, including curled Musky octopus in tomato sauce in traditional Venetian style ($39) and Venetian-style liver with soft polenta ($54). The bar serves morning and afternoon tea, in-room dining is available 24 hours.
WORTH STEPPING OUT FOR
Within 100 metres of the hotel's entrance you're on one of the main avenues taking you through Venice's artistic and theatre district. Here you'll also see an abundance of high-end designer stores. St Mark's Square is another 300 metres away. In fact, most of Venice's must-see stores, sights and restaurants are located within a 10 minute walk of the hotel.
Everything about the Westin Europa & Regina makes me feel like I'm living out a fairy tale – beginning with my water-taxi ride right to the hotel. Be sure to book a room with a Grand Canal view to make the most of the unrivalled location. Even regular Europe travellers will be impressed.
HOW TO GET THERE
Take a private water taxi straight from the airport to your hotel ($152) or take a public boat (alilaguna.it/en) from the airport or the train station to San Marco Valeresso, a five minute walk away.
Rooms from $435 a night. San Marco 2159, Venice. See westineuropareginavenice.com
The writer was a guest of Westin Europa & Regina
Waking in the morning to the sounds of gondoliers plying their ancient trade along the Grand Canal below.
Large noisy groups of high-end tourists from all over the world visit Venice en masse, including your hotel.