Part of Starwood’s Westin group since 2000, the property first became known as the Hotel Europa and Regina when two previous hotels merged in 1976. The site today is comprised of five buildings dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries, and these include Regina (five floors) and Tiepolo (four floors), both on the water, and Europa (seven floors), set further back and sandwiched between the other two. The oldest part is Tiepolo where I stayed. The palazzi first became hotels in the late 1800s.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The five-star property has largely been revamped but still has a classic look and feel to it that is typical of Italy. Expect lots of marble, dark wood furnishings and Murano glass light fittings. Located on the Grand Canal, it has a superb waterside terrace and restaurant.
Upon arrival on foot, reception is to the right of a low-ceilinged lobby that then opens out to a wide corridor leading to lifts on the left for Tiepolo and, at the far end, the private jetty where guests can arrive and depart by boat.
WHERE IS IT?
Venice is made up of six sestiere (districts), with San Marco being at the heart – the famous piazza and basilica it is named after at the centre. This is one of the most desirable districts in which to be located, and the hotel is right on the Grand Canal at the point where it opens up into the bay.
The property doesn’t have a specific address, so you will either need to get a water taxi direct to the hotel’s private jetty (about €275 from Marco Polo airport one-way) or look up its location in advance and walk through the streets and over the bridges (awkward with luggage), following signs to its secretive entrance at the back.
You can take the Alilaguna public boat from Marco Polo airport for €27 return but it take about 90 minutes to San Marco.
I was staying in a renovated non-smoking Grand Deluxe Double room on the side of the Tiepolo building, which meant that if you stepped out on to the tiny, vertigo-inducing Juliette balcony you could see the Grand Canal. (People staying in the opposite Regina building can also see you.)
The décor was fairly bland in my room – modern interiors with a patterned brown carpet (some rooms have parquet floors), cream walls sea blue upholstery and dark wood. Previously, they were more baroque, with lots of pink, green and stucco.
The Westin Heavenly bed was extremely comfortable and there was a pleasant marble bathroom with a separate tub, walk-in shower, toilet, bidet and twin sinks. There was a wardrobe but no iron or ironing board inside (irons are banned from being used in rooms across the city). Pressing is €9 per item.
Despite having recently been refreshed, the sound-proofing wasn’t great – there was a wedding disco on the Saturday night that I could clearly hear, as well as someone in the neighbouring bathroom in the morning. If you leave the balcony doors open, you will be woken by church bells or mosquitos at night so it is best to keep them closed. There were no plug sockets by the bed, which was annoying, so I had to charge my phone on the floor next to the wall.
Wifi costs €12 for 24 hours. Other amenities included a 32-inch flatscreen LCD TV with pay-per-view movies, a workdesk, minibar, robes, slippers, free bottled water, turndown service, air conditioning and a safe. One evening I found that the lifts weren’t working so had to use a service elevator to go up and the stairs to go down.
There are 28 bedrooms that directly face the Grand Canal – these are more contemporary and five also have terraces.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The sultry Bar Tiepolo, heavy with brown and black marble, is open from 10.30am to 1am and has a waterside terrace open between April and October. The hotel also has two restaurants – La Chic…chetteria, for chichetti (Italian tapas), which is open for lunch and dinner, and La Cusina for regional fare served all day.
I had breakfast at La Cusina in the morning – there is indoor and outdoor seating by the canal, and a lavish buffet is spread out with chopped fruit, pastries, fresh smoothies and juices, bread, cheese, cold cuts and hot items. Waiters are on-hand to bring coffee and tea to your table, all of which are draped in white linen and set with silver cutlery.
In-room dining is available 24 hours a day but prices, as you’d expect, are high. Even a bottle of water from the minibar costs €12.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
The hotel has almost 400 sqm of indoor event space across four meeting rooms, catering for up to 150 guests each in the Canaletto room and Grand Salone. There’s also two outdoor terraces for 280 delegates standing, in total, by the Grand Canal. Suites can be hired for meetings of up to ten people boardroom-style, while the Hall can accommodate 200 delegates.
You can ask at reception for running maps and to book in-room massages (there is no spa). There is no pool either, but there is a ground-floor gym in Regina that has been recently kitted out with new Technogym equipment after flooding. It is open 24 hours a day with a keycard and has treadmills and free weights but no natural light.
The hotel is very well located just a couple of minutes' walk from the delights of St Mark’s Square (San Marco), as well as plenty of nearby shops, churches and eateries. You can also take a boat to the island of Lido for swimming and watersports. There is a private jetty outside the Tiepolo building for boat transfers and water taxis.
The Westin Europa and Regina enjoys a fantastic location on the Grand Canal, close to piazza San Marco. Rooms are more modern than those at many other Venetian properties, which can be a plus, depending on your taste, but they are a little bland. If you can book one directly at the front of the hotel (Regina or Tiepolo), you will have superb views of the water. It’s expensive, but so is everything in Venice. I had a comfortable stay here and particularly enjoyed breakfast on the terrace in the morning.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 185 rooms across ten categories (Classic Single, Classic Double, Deluxe Double, Grand Deluxe Double, Premium Deluxe Double, Stunning Grand Canal View Double, Unique Grand Canal Terrace Double, One Bedroom Deluxe suite, Luxury suite, Deluxe Terrace suite).
- HIGHLIGHTS The waterside terrace with views of Santa Maria della Salute, the rooms at the front of the hotel that look on to the Grand Canal, the Westin Heavenly bed and the newly equipped gym.
- PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in August started from €280 for a Classic Double room.
- CONTACT Westin Europa and Regina, San Marco 2159; tel +39 412 400 001; westineuropavenice.com