The legendary Gritti Palace, housed by a 16th-century palazzo on the Grand Canal, reopened in February following an extensive 15-month restoration that included handcrafted refurbishment of its treasures, such as guestroom mirrors, chandeliers, antique furniture and artwork.
Paolo Lorenzoni, the hotel’s general manager, blogged about the progress throughout the project, detailing the work and answering concerns from anxious Gritti Palace fans, who worried that the improvements might alter the hotel’s personality. The hotel, he reported, was essentially stripped bare of the art in its many forms that has been a tradition of the Gritti Palace for centuries. Chandeliers were sent to the Galliano Ferro Glass Factory on the island of Murano to be rewired, repaired and revamped. Mirrors, including those decorating Bar Longhi, were restored by endorsed artisans from Barbini. Damaged or missing marble tiles from the hotel’s terrazzo floors were replaced using traditional materials and methods. The supplier for the curtains and damasks, a 160-year-old Venetian textiles company, reviewed its archives to find brocades and silk designs commissioned for the Gritti itself in the 19th century.
All the pieces of antique furniture from the hotel—tables, lamps, desks, chairs, bed headboards, wardrobes and the boiserie were taken to Venetian artisans to be restored. The three bar counters of the Bar Longhi, the concierge and the reception were dismantled, removed, cleaned, polished, buffed, returned to their original places and reassembled. Decorative stuccoes on the guest floors were reworked by hand, and walls in the top floor suites were reupholstered. The Gritti is once again The Gritti.
A major part of the project was installation of protective flood basins in the ground floor areas of the hotel to prevent these from flooding during seasonal acqua alta, or tide peaks. Some rooms were reconfigured. The hotel now has 82 rooms, 21 of which are suites. Technology has been added and plumbing upgraded as needed, but the hotel retains the period grandeur and style expected of a Venetian palazzo.