Come dinner time, I pulled on my glad rags added lipstick to my jeans and trainers ensemble and wandered across the grounds to Dopolavoro, the hotel’s “ultimate gourmet experience”, which has actually just scored a Michelin star. Such accolade doesn’t surprise me one bit; my meal was bloody fantastic. It started on a high with a glass of champagne and a few elegant amuse-bouches and continued on such a level with 3 wonderfully executed “Veneto-inspired” courses, with grilled octopus for my main, and a deconstructed tiramisu as the highlight.
You arrive at JW Marriott Venice by boat; you have to because it’s on its own island on the Venetian lagoon, 15 minutes or so from the mainland. If you arrive by water taxi, like I did straight from the airport one Friday night in October, you pull into a dedicated pier which opens out into the hotel lobby like something out of James Bond. I’d been there 2 minutes and my jaw was already on the floor. Bond would have been just as impressed with my room, a Junior Suite complete with 2 bathroom compartments (featuring a giant bathtub, double sink, shower and separate toilet room) and a lounge area, all dressed in a sophisticated marble, cream and black combo. It was late so I wasted no time in slipping into my giant, sumptuous bed — the kind where there are so many pillows of all different weights and sizes, you take ages deciding which arrangement to settle on. Needless to say, I slept like a log.
The next morning, autumn sun shone through through the sliding doors as I made the most of having a Nespresso machine in my room. My room was one of the 250 in the main hotel building but there are bi-level suites and villas too, each with either private pools or private gardens. I had a large balcony which overlooked the orchards, and with anything more, I think I would have felt far too spoilt! Breakfast was a slightly chaotic affair; whilst my room felt like a grown up’s hideaway and the lobby felt equally sedate, the breakfast buffet reminded me just how large the hotel was… I queued for my scrambled eggs thinking how lovely it would have been to order a croissant to my room. (If breakfast is an additional extra, I’d say skip it!)
I found calm again shortly afterwards in the gym. I had the whole space to myself and it was dreamy in all its mirrored wall, wooden floored glory, and complete with resistance machines, medicine balls, pilates mats, and fresh rolled flannels. Next up was the spa! Ahh, the spa. I love a good swim-out pool and this was a swim-out pool with a view across the lagoon! Not just that, but there were multiple saunas and steam rooms, and outdoor sun loungers too. It may have been late October but I had the most perfect blue skies and could happily hop from lounger to pool without feeling the chill. It was total bliss and really the sort of pinch yourself, take-a-mental-picture sort of experience, to be able to sit in a jacuzzi whilst looking out to tower of St Mark’s Basilica! GOCO Spa is a destination in itself for many visitors and locals alike so there is a 25EUR fee for use for hotel guests (35EUR for everyone else), which does seem a little tight to me given you’ve paid for the hotel, but it’s definitely a highlight.
I was definitely ready for lunch after all the swimming and gymming so after a quick stroll around the grounds (well, not so quick — it’s a whole island after all with 3 boat piers, 4 restaurants, meeting rooms, and even its own church!) it was time for lunch up on the rooftop restaurant, Sagra. The view from the top is even more impressive and there’s a pool up here too so you could quite happily set up camp for the whole day. Lunch was delicious; sat in the blazing sun looking out over the lagoon I had monkfish and grilled vegetables, accompanied by a lovely glass of vino. It was by no means cheap(!) but it’s definitely an experience I’ll cherish — my table must have had one of the best views in Venice!
I tripped into Venice itself after lunch on the hotel shuttle boat, which is a free, regular and comfortable service, only takes 15 minutes, and impressively pulls directly into Piazza San Marco. When I was heading back to the hotel around 6ish, I did have to wait for the next boat because the first one was full, but it wasn’t a huge problem given the sun was shining and there was a cafe serving Aperol Spritz right next to the pier 😉 If you’re looking for a hotel where you can regularly pop back to your hotel for a coffee/ lie-down/ drop off your souvenirs, JW Marriott Venice isn’t it, but in all other instances, I think you’ll find it rather glorious.
The next morning, I had an early flight so took a water taxi straight to the hotel — the fastest way to travel, not to mention most exhilarating! Bouncing over those waves certainly woke me up, and meant I got to enjoy every last moment of the whole hotel experience. JW Marriott Venice isn’t somewhere to just go and rest your head. If you’re time limited and want to really explore Venice, I wouldn’t say it was the most suitable choice, but for luxury accommodation, a romantic retreat, or ‘the whole package’, it’s sure to seriously wow. So many hotels and apartments in Venice are very hit or miss but here, you’re guaranteed a good stay.
JW Marriott Venice Resort and Spa, rooms from £200/night