Review: Aman Venice, Venice

Aman Venice

Venice, Italy
Room type: Upgraded to Palazzo Chamber Luminoso and Palazzo Stanza
Duration: 26th > 28th February
Booked with: Virtuoso

Getting there

Ah, Venice.  Second only to Paris as the city of love.  A beautiful, magistical, almost surreal place that you wouldn’t believe if someone attempted to build now.  Even amongst the dark skies, we had massive grins on our faces as our water taxi bristled from the airport to the Grand Canal, all for the cheap-as-chips price of €275.  Yes, that’s right.  Even though it will only cost you €100 if you book directly, you too can enjoy the benefits of spending nearly 3x the price on a water taxi if you book via Aman.  But don’t feel you are being ripped off, oh no.  In fact, this money goes a long way.  It saves you having to walk 7 minutes from the airport terminal to the water taxi, as someone will greet you, walk you to a car and help you with your luggage.  I think we’re all mature enough to agree that at €25 a minute this offers  exceptional value for money and you would be insane not to take it.  Alternatively you could probably hire a team of taxi drivers to carry you on their shoulders for less.

Don’t be put off by the fact that booking a water taxi will mean you end up in either an identical or in fact better boat than the one Aman puts you in, it is absolutely worth using Aman, for the sheer fact that there is a 100% correlation between how much something costs and what you get in return.  I also have some magic beans for sale if someone wants them.

Oh, in case you’re interested, the journey takes about 25 minutes.

Rooms

Bedroom view

The hotel contains only 24 rooms, spread over 6000 sqm.  Suffice to say, there is plenty of room available.  During our stay staff said they were running at less than half occupancy, so it was not a surprise to see we were upgraded on arrival.  What was a surprise was that we were upgraded by 2 room categories, which is definitely a first for us with Aman.   This then broke all previous known records, as we were ultimately by a 3rd room category after I complained of the noise from an omnipresent crying baby.

I was really surprised at the poor noise insulation and could not sleep on the first night, so asked to be moved. I think this is the first time I’ve ever asked to move room and I didn’t feel that there was much empathy from the receptionist when I mentioned the issue. She said she wanted to go away and check, which is fine, but it just didn’t seem to bother her that much when I mentioned it. There was more of a case of “are you sure you can’t just put up with it?”. I do appreciate they did move me and into a better room category, but the response from the staff felt a bit too much like the overall feeling of the resort, which is that it’s truly spectacular, but not what I’d consider Aman levels of service.

In the new room, she mentioned that it is much quieter and showed me a fire door that could be closed if I needed it, although she emphasised that I would not need it as the room is very quiet. You know where this is going, don’t you?  Come 11pm we could hear people playing the piano from the lobby ~20m from our room.  Good job I was educated on how to close a door, as it came in useful.

View from Palazzo Chamber Luminoso

It’s not all bad though.  The rooms themselves are really stunning, with a great mixture of the original Venetian designs, mixed in with every modern appliance you would want.  Having stayed in hundreds of hotels over the last 5 years, something that is frequent and frequently annoying are the light systems.  Some of them require an engineering degree to work out.  How hard can it be just to add a single light switch that turns everything off or label them so it’s clear what they’re doing?  Well roll out the red carpet for Aman Venice, as their lightening system was the best I’ve ever seen.  However they lose points in the tech department for using B&O TVs.  I don’t know why so many resorts seem to desire using these.  They take so long to turn on that whatever you wanted to watch is probably finished by the time it’s loaded.

The toilet door in the bedroom is see through, so it really has no privacy. It makes no sense to have a bathroom which is designed for 2 people, only to have the equivalent of an open-door policy on the toilet.  I really hope that company doesn’t design seatbelts, as they would make the belt beautiful, but then forget to add a clip at the end of it.

Then there’s the strange heating system, where if you want it warmer you must call them as the gauge has a limited range. We found the room very cold on several occasions and called multiple times. It did get warmer in the end, but I don’t understand why it would then drop so much later on.  I had never experienced this before, but by coincidence I had the exact same experience in Hotel Maria Cristinia, San Sebastian just last week.

Bathroom in Palazzo Chamber Luminoso

 

There’s also my beloved free mini bar + snacks in the room. The snacks in the room are amazing and even better than Amanzoe, which were previously my favourite.

Mini bar

Amenities

With all that space, you will not be surprised that Aman Venice suffers the same fate of Amanruya -the curse of the chairs returns part II!  So, so much space, that it’s clear they didn’t really know what to do with it.  They could not get planning permission for a pool, so really you’re left with more seating areas than an Italian football stadium and as empty as one too.  This all sounds good in theory, but it means that there is absolutely no way the staff can always be aware of where you are, which leads to the feeling of the most empty hotel and definitely coldest-feeling Aman I have been in.  The joy of an Aman is not only in the architecture, but of the people there.  With so much space, you rarely even see staff in most of the places, so that feeling is lost.

Due to the way the building has been refurbished it can take a while to work out where you’re going.  It seems another Aman quirk to not include any signs anywhere to help you and leave you to explore. This wouldn’t be so bad if you couldn’t actually end up on a floor designed only for staff; my desire to learn about the hotel industry has its limits.  There are no signs in the elevator and due to the 2 different areas which means different floors are required depending on what elevator you’re in, it can easily result in recreating the final scene of The Shining.  Yes, the entire scene.

Lounge area
Library
Bar
Spa room

Food

The food was amongst the best of any Aman I’ve ever been to, although the portions were very small and higher than Mayfair prices, which is my metric of where things sit on the rip-off scale.  €15 for a dessert that you could eat faster than you can pronounce it isn’t my idea of a bargain, but it did beat having to use my own legs and find somewhere else.

The food menu is too limited; the specials were the same every day and when I asked at 4pm if I could have the dinner menu, they said it was not ready yet and I could not have it.  This is a growing theme regarding the service of Aman Venice.  For example, we frequently ask for ice and lemon with our water. I can still remember how impressed I was with Amanzoe during our first visit, that we asked once and never again. Every time we sat down for a drink or meal, there was always some ice and lemon there within a few minutes. At Aman Venice, we only received this on the final meal we had.

Service

Even though we knew Claudia, the GM, from Amankila and saw her again only a month earlier at an Aman event in London, she was not there to greet us. I made the comment to the staff who was giving us a tour: “I understand she’s not here” only to be told she was there (she mentioned at the Aman event that she was in America at the time of our visit, which is why we were not expecting her. She actually was leaving the day after we arrived), then have her come see us. Seeing that we paid for Aman to pick us up from the airport, this must be the only time I’ve not had the GM meet us.  It actually felt awkward that she was coming to see us as at this point she had no choice.

Management is omnipresent at most Amans but not here – Claudia did come to say goodbye and that was it. We never had anyone come over to speak to us during lunch/dinner, which is very un-Aman like.

I deliberately did not send our stay notes pre-arrival, as I wanted to see if they would pass this on from Aman HQ.  Seeing that they’ve identified us as Aman VIPs and we were told at the London event that this is an area they were focusing on, I thought it was worth trying. Even if they just sent some brief notes from our previous visits it would have been a good start, but evidently nothing was. For example, we do not drink alcohol, yet we were constantly offered it. At Amanjiwo they had our stay notes, and never once were we even offered anything, with the head of F&B even making comment on what mocktail we would like.

Path to the empty reception area

Worth knowing

  • Book your water taxi with http://www.motoscafivenezia.it/eng/biglietto_1.php instead of via Aman.
  • Before any trip out of LGW or LHR we stay at The Connaught the night before and the day after our return. We mentioned to the Director of Rooms where we were going and on arrival had a large bouquet of flowers with a note from him waiting for us. Very classy. That’s how to keep business.

The Good

  • Beautiful, spacious rooms, each offering their own unique touches and a fantastic blend of technology and architecture.
  • Great food.
  • Extremely private .
  • Brilliant, hidden-away location that puts you walking distance from all the main attractions.
Aman Venice entrance

The Bad

  • Service definitely needs works.
  • Transfer costs are just unacceptable.
  • Larger food menu required.
  • Not much available to do if the weather is not good.  2 days felt more than enough.
  • I called downstairs regarding the heating at 8pm and it went to voicemail as no one was there.  Numerous times there were no staff around at all.

The Luxurious

  • It feels like being in a palace.  One of the most impressive hotels I’ve ever visited, as a hard product.
  • We flew with BA and landed at 11:40 and left at 21:40, with an early check in and late check out offered. I know they’re low-season, but that is hugely flexible and greatly appreciated.

Conclusion

Aman Venice is like a celebrity crush that you always had, but then years later, by pure coincidence you met them and they were a complete arsehole; beautiful to look at, but nothing to make you want to spend anytime with them.  No, in fact, it’s not like this, it is this.

I think ultimately it is an Aman, in that only Aman could have built such an amazing hotel. But just like Aman Tokyo, it’s not an Aman in that the service is just not there. There are definitely elements of it, but to me an Aman is about how seamless it all goes together, rather than just bits and pieces that are good.

The hotel is simply stunning, but I didn’t feel the usual warmth of an Aman in the staff service, but at the same time I don’t think the hotel being so massive and empty helps in that atmosphere. This is not to say they were poorly trained or did not care, only that I’ve had better and more memorable service elsewhere. I would return to Aman Venice, but I would not rush to it.

View of Grand Canal from Aman Venice

 

One Comment

  1. Another review that’s fun to read and informative! Looking forward to hearing about your upcoming trip to Italy in July ( provided you don’t change your mind and kill more kittens!) Perhaps for obvious reasons I’m especially interested in your experience with Belmond’s Hotel Caruso! Ciao!

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