A four-year, 200 million-Euro restoration has carefully incorporated its original factory architecture with all the mod-cons of contemporary hostelry, including those, like a rooftop pool, that are new to Venice.
Hilton Molino Stucky: Venice
Year after year, century after century, not much changes in Venice. That’s why everyone in town knows about the new Hilton hotel, an adaptive reuse of a sprawling flour mill that dates to 1895. Located on the string of eight interconnected islands known as Giudecca, just across the way from the main Venetian archipelago, the distinctive red brick complex has been a city landmark for years. A four-year, 200 million-Euro restoration has carefully incorporated its original factory architecture with all the mod-cons of contemporary hostelry, including those, like a rooftop pool, that are new to Venice.
Most of this quiet mile-long island is the domain of residents who enjoy spectacular views of the action across the way while indulging in the sedate comforts of quotidian Venetian life– a cafe here, a barking dog there, a few art galleries. The Stucky anchors the far western side of the island, and includes gracious gardens and courtyards lit by Venice’s signature pink-glassed street lamps. Seemingly a thousand miles from the tourist throngs of Piazza San Marco and the Ponte Rialto– but only a 10-minute boat shuttle ride– this is the perfect place to soak up the real Venice.
An expansive, light-filled lobby and corridors lined with meeting rooms suggest this hotel is primarily a business retreat. Small clusters of clipboard-wielding, three-piece-suited guests second that impression. Where possible, Hilton has kept or reused industrial features from the original mill, in both the guest rooms and the public spaces. These touches include massive wooden ceiling beams, vaulted brick archways, Gothic-mullioned windows, and iron columns.
A rooftop pool– Venice’s only– offers sweeping views of the city. You may never want to leave, but steps away all of Venice waits to be explored.
Before boating to the mainland, explore little-traversed Giudecca itself, by strolling to the other end of the island where the famous resort, Cipriani, holds court. Along the way, check out the Redentore Church, designed by Palladio, and Harry’s II, the sister cafe to the famous Harry’s American Bar. Panini here will set you back a whopping 27-Euros, but a classic Bellini is a (relatively) cheaper alternative.
Dorsoduro, just across the water,offers two of Venice’s top museums, Accademia and Peggy Guggenheim Collection, but otherwise you’ll find relatively uncluttered streets worth exploring– and getting lost in.
Or, for a treat, when you book your stay at the Hilton, ask to be set up for Gondolier Training, a program that grants you as much helm time as you can stand during a three-hour gondola ride (360 Euros per party). Upon completion, you’ll receive a traditional black-and-white striped shirt for your efforts. Information: www.molinostuckyhilton.com
Venice is a city of many moods . . . check them all out at this slideshow by Cathleen McCarthy and Mike Tyler.