Bauer Il Palladio Hotel & Spa, Venice
The newest hotel on Venice's exclusive Giudecca island--and housed in a 16th-century Palladio-designed former convent, to boot.
Location: Just a 10-minute vaporetto ride from St. Mark's Square, and right at the water's edge, with Canaletto-worthy views of Venice.
Pedigree: Hotelier (and chairman of the Save Venice Foundation) Francesca Bortolotto Possati has set a high standard for style, service, and social responsibility at her three other Venice properties.
Style Design: Mostly laudable, beginning with the impeccable architectural credentials of Palladio. Public areas have Venetian terrazzo floors, original open-brickwork walls, and antique furnishings; trelliswork stencils and Murano-glass lanterns add intimacy to the 37 rooms and 13 suites.
Service Amenities: T L visited on what might have been the chaotic first day of the new season, yet the staff was unfailingly efficient. An almost 5,400-square-foot spa opens this summer, with saunas, a Turkish hammam, and an impressive menu of treatments using Daniela Steiner products.
Rooms to Book: We love the seven doubles on the second floor--all painted red, rose, and bordeaux-- because of their spectacular views of the lagoon, the Doge's Palace, and St. Mark's Square. Those on the first floor are styled in drab browns and beige and look out only on the garden.
33 Giudecca; 39-041/520-7022; www.bauerhotels.com; doubles from $738.