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Review: The St Regis Venice hotel (Part 1 – the impressive stuff)

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This is my review of the new The St Regis Venice hotel.

On 1st May, Italy dropped virtually all of its covid restrictions. No more mask wearing in shops, restaurants or indeed anywhere except on public transport. No more showing of vaccine passes. No Passenger Locator Forms on entry.

The Venice Biennale had just started, which was something I’d always wanted to visit. I was also running out of time to try The St Regis Venice before it more than doubles in points price next year.

It was time to jump on a flight. This turned out to be a Titan Airways Boeing 757, standing in for BA, but that’s another article.

This is an old picture, pre conversion, and the striped awning over the garden appears to have gone:

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

The history of The St Regis Venice hotel

Venetian buildings always have a complex history. Go back far enough and The St Regis was originally five separate palaces owned by the Tiepolo family. You can see four buildings in the image above – everything you see is part of the hotel.

It first operated as a hotel in 1868. In 1976, Hotel Europa & Britannia, as it was known by then, merged with the adjacent Hotel Regina to form the Hotel Europa & Regina. In 2000 this became the Westin Europa & Regina.

Following an extensive refurbishment, albeit with little change to the layout as far as I can tell from old photographs, the hotel reopened as The St Regis Venice in 2019.

It is now the newest super-luxury hotel in town. You won’t get a room here for under €1,000 per night and at peak times will pay more. I had a look at pricing for the damp, dark days of late November and it was still €989 for a non-refundable standard room. You should read my review in the context of this pricing.

I booked using 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. In a promotion like this one you can buy 70,000 points for around £425, representing a huge saving on the cash price.

Where is The St Regis Venice?

It simply doesn’t get better in Venice, to be honest. The St Regis sits at the bottom of the Grand Canal, which it overlooks from its bar, restaurant and garden terrace. The views are exceptional as I will show below.

As with many Venetian hotels, finding it is not easy even though it is directly off the main luxury shopping thoroughfare by St Mark’s Square. You need to look for the ‘Europa & Regina’ sign – I am guessing this is listed and can’t be changed to The St Regis:

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

You then head down this very narrow alley:

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

…. and need to swing left into a courtyard – there is no sign to tell you this:

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

Frankly, if you’re not familiar with Venice, I recommend taking a water taxi from the airport (€130) or railway station. This will drop you, far more elegantly, on the hotel’s own pier:

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

…. and you can enter throught the far grander back door:

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

I was clearly in a minority by taking the €15 water bus from the airport to St Mark’s Square and then walking down. I know Venice quite well, however, and knew where I was going.

Inside The St Regis Venice

Whether you arrive on foot or by boat, you can’t help but be wowed by the hotel interiors. The public spaces are simply stunning, and are substantial.

Even if you don’t stay, I would strongly recommend popping in for a coffee. Because it is so well hidden the hotel gets very few casual visitors from what I could tell.

This area, for example, is tucked away behind the main entrance and gets virtually no use, but is lovely:

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

This space is next to reception and is criminally underused:

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

The standalone bar was closed when I was there. It is meant to open Wed-Sat but was closed on my Wednesday.

The fact that the bar was closed on a day when it should have been open was my first sign that things were not well here. It is stunning though:

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

and

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

In some ways, the hotel reminded me of The St Regis Istanbul. Our review of The St Regis Istanbul is here. What Istanbul does hugely successfully, and which Venice does almost as well, is take the original 1920s styling of The St Regis New York and update it wonderfully for the present day.

You never feel that you are sitting in a pastiche – it looks and feels clearly modern, but the influence of the brand history is always present.

The garden at The St Regis Venice

Here is the garden courtyard, taken with my back to the canal:

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

…. and here are some shots looking out. Life could be worse.

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

and

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

The garden isn’t perfect though. Apart from a few tables for two by the canal edge, the tables were all large ones with four or six chairs around them. This is an odd mix for a hotel where most people – at least those who are paying to stay – will be in a group of two. The first time I was out there I had to take a table of six for myself, which then blocked it out from other people who came after me.

On my last day, the garden was closed for a private event, possibly a wedding. It was closed off before breakfast, was closed when I checked out at lunch and presumably remained closed until the evening, if not all night. I would have been unhappy if I’d paid €1,000 for my room and been blocked from the only bit of outdoor space. There is a small outdoor terrace in the bar but, as I said above, the bar was mysteriously closed too.

Regular vistors to The St Regis will know that there is a daily ritual where a bottle of champagne is sliced opened with a sword and a glass offered to everyone present. I was told this happened at 5pm in the garden but it didn’t, at least on the first day I was there (I wasn’t around at 5pm on Day 2).

Breakfast at The St Regis Venice

The terrace is officially part of Gio’s Restaurant and Bar, which is also where breakfast is served.

Despite being €49 per person, the buffet is tiny. I’ve seen similar spreads in small B&Bs, yet this hotel has 185 rooms.

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

You can also have one cooked item for your €49. Here is a small looking Eggs Royale:

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

…. but all of the other options I saw being delivered were equally modest. Not that it really matters when this is the view from your table:

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

They have a tiny pier for two ….

Intriguingly, the hotel has built this little private pier in the restaurant:

Review The St Regis Venice hotel

On my second (and last) morning, I was given this table for breakfast. Whilst clearly a unique experience, it isn’t quite as cool as you think because of the hungry seagulls swooping around. I returned from my second trip to the buffet to find the remains of my first trip gone!

The bigger problem is that, once seated on the pier, I was totally ignored by the staff. After 20 minutes I had still not been asked for my coffee or hot item order. I was forced to get up and track down a waiter.

It wasn’t really the service you expect for €49, yet alone part of a €1,000+ per night stay.

If you have Marriott Bonvoy Platinum or higher status, breakfast is free. This is a great saving, clearly. This didn’t stop the hotel adding the charge for the second day to my bill, which I had to get removed at check-out.

By that point, however, I would have been disappointed if the hotel had managed to get the bill correct. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced this, but I find that there is a point – quite early on – in a bad hotel stay when you lose all confidence in the place. From that point, you ensure that everything you do is double-checked and reconfirmed, or you build additional time into your schedule, because you know that things are unlikely to happen as you would like. I had hit that point within an hour of checking in.

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t talked about the bedrooms. This is because, not for positive reasons, they deserve a standalone discussion. Click here to read Part 2 of my The St Regis Venice review.


How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (June 2022)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

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20,000 bonus points and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

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and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (14)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Kwab says:

    “there is a daily ritual where a bottle of champagne is sliced opened with a sword”

    It’s called sabrage. A tradition from the European gentry!

  • Geoff says:

    Surely the entrance on the water would be the front door? And strange that we feel we are unable to share tables. Unusual though, I admit, you would think that smaller tables would be more flexible.

    • John says:

      “I didn’t pay €1700 to share a table with strangers”

      • Nick says:

        If the only option is to sit at a table of 6 on my own, I do so. But I always tell the staff to offer it to anyone who comes after me. It’s a win for me (I get what I want), it’s a win for the bar/restaurant (they get more covers)… plus you get to meet some great people that way.

      • RussellH says:

        I suggest that you do not go to the Bäumli in St. Gallen. Probably the best restaurant in town. You have to book if you want to eat in the evening. Nevertheless, it is more or less expected that you share the tables, which seat 12? 14? It depends on the number of guests, frankly.
        I booked a “table for 4”, but we were on one of the long tables. The place was full, but halfway through our meal a young soldier and girlfriend turned up. The waitress looked at our table, and then said, basically, “all right you lot, everyone shove along and we shall squeeze these two in”.
        This was pre-covid…

        • Peter K says:

          The Bäumli may serve the best food in town, but what you describe definitely would massively demote it from best restaurant to way down the list in my view.
          Going out for a meal is so much more than just the food!

  • GarethM says:

    Venice is an either/or (we had a few days there last week). Either you push the boat for a room, for example we once had a Grand Canal facing suite in the Gritti during a regatta, or you find a room to sleep in. We’ve stayed in the Gritti, the Cipriani, the Hilton Molino Stucky and the Westin on Lido but now stay in the Concordia on St. Marks Square at a fifth, or less, of the price but with a great location. The saved cash, this time, went on lunch on the Gritti terrace, dinner on the Danielli and some water taxis around the smaller islands. Recommend highly by the way, for lunch, Osteria Al Ponte del Diavolo on Torcello. Venice is not the place to stay in your hotel but is all about the public spaces.

  • Kwab says:

    The time to go to Venice was summer 2020. Rock bottom hotel rates and no crowds. Flights actually also left the UK and with your luggage on board!

  • Peter says:

    I was booked to stay at the St Regis a few weeks ago. Before I arrived a tried to book a table for dinner for me and 2 friends. I was told nothing was available during my stay. For the price per night I was going to pay that was not acceptable. I cancelled and went to the Cipriani where guests getting a table was not a problem.

  • Dubious says:

    I am also pleased to see a negative review for once (I mean this seriously and with no schadenfreude) as it gives some nice variety – as well as being insightful.

    Two observations-
    1. The sandwiches look well cut
    2. A shame about the massive LV billboard on the other side of the water. Gives it a commercial feel (obviously not the hotel’s responsibility).

  • His Holyness says:

    I’d say the Belmond Cipriani is the best hotel, for peace and quiet and also just 10 to St Mark’s on the boat. Its unparalleled during summer due to the pool.

  • Alan says:

    Wow this looks appalling value for money – worth a visit for a coffee but that’s about it! In comparison I had an amazing (and centrally located) apartment via Airbnb when I was last there, very competitively priced.

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