There is almost nothing as luxurious as sipping a cocktail while sitting on the Grand Canal. Venice hotel bars have always had the wow factor and, in this modern cocktail renaissance we are enjoying, they only get better and better. Now the cocktails are equally as fabulous as the bars that serve them.
I’ve put together a list of the best hotel bars in Venice, so you can plan your visit to Venice accordingly! Plus, I’ve included a few Venetian classic recipes at the end!
(They are in alphabetical order!)
Best Hotel Bars in Venice
Alchemia Bar – Ca’ di Dio
It’s so rare to enjoy a cocktail in any inner courtyard in Venice. This new kid on the block, the Ca’ di Dio, only opened this past year and is already making waves. Seconds away from the Arsenale, you might slip past the unadorned facade of this former monastery without noticing it. One step aside and you will realize you’ve found a treasure.
Just because it is Venice’s oldest hotel – serving as a pilgrimage since the 13th C, don’t expect the cocktails to be stuck in the past. At the helm is Diego Filippone, whose creativity is making people head to Castello, Venice’s most eastern sestiere, for a cocktail even when the Biennale isn’t on.
One reason to make the journey east (really only 5 minutes from St. Mark’s Square) is to sample the Gin al Sale, created exclusively for Ca’ di Dio by Venice’s own The Merchant of Venice perfumery and Florian Dabanser from Zu Plun, the Dolomites distillery using only local ingredients.
If nasty weather drives you inside, then consider yourself lucky to seat yourself in the über-chic bar inside Its mix of contemporary and mid-century design is echoed in its cocktail menu where the classic cocktails are made modern!
- Top Tip(ple)🍸: Don’t miss the Sàlenegroni – using the Gin al Sale as a base, Diego adds vermouth, Bitter Luxardo, caper powder and samphire essence to create one of the most fabulous twists on a Negroni, ever.
Set inside the Palazzo Papadopoli, one of the largest palazzi on the Grand Canal, the Aman definitely has that wow factor. With its own private gardens and only 26 rooms, it’s fun to fantasize that the Aman is yours and yours alone.
On a sunny day, you can sit out overlooking the water, but I suggest you spend some time in the bar upstairs. Sitting in the Red Room, you are encased in Venetian splendor – red silk walls around you and the gorgeous Murano glass chandelier above you, in the middle of a high ceiling decorated with stucci and frescoes ceiling. Nothing minimalist here.
Just one look at the bar menu and you would be right in assuming that Bar Manager Antonio Ferrara has a penchant for gin. Well, it’s really more of a passion, with a collection of gins from around the world that’s the biggest in Venice. Since the bar was inspired by enfant terrible, Lord Byron, a lover of both gin and Venice. He is said to have resided at the palace during his three years here.
Needless to say, their gin cocktails are fantastic, and the Gin & Tonic menu has over 25 gins to choose from in all styles from fruity to spicy to floral. Don’t miss one of Antonio’s signature cocktails as well, The Masterpieces. The Savage is a highlight – Antonio’s take on the Margarita but with a bite!
- Top Tip(ple)🍸: Antonio has dedicated a cocktail to the owner of the palazzo, Count Giberto Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga called, of course, Il Martini del Conte!
Arts Bar & St. Regis Bar
Don’t get confused. I followed the Europa & Regina sign from the Calle Larga XXII Marzo expecting to find my way to the St. Regis Venice. The St. Regis Venice may be located in what was formerly the E&R, but it’s following a totally different path. Goodbye olde worldie Venice, and hello the 21st century.
After a major refurb, how brilliant of the St. Regis to appoint Facundo Gallegos as its Director of Bars & Restaurant. He’s straight from the Connaught Bar in London, and under his watchful eye, the St. Regis Bar is now recognized as one of the world’s best bars, not just Venice’s. (Finalist for the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award 2022!)
He oversees both the St. Regis Bar and the Arts Bar, each with its own distinct personality. The St. Regis Bar is home to not only the now iconic Santa Maria cocktail, but also Venice’s only Spritz Trolley. The St. Regis New York gave birth to the original Bloody Mary. Now each St. Regis bar around the world adapts its own recipe based on the original. Facundo has literally transformed the Bloody Mary into something that is worthy of a visit to Venice just to sample. I dare a Bloody Mary hater to not like this one.
The Spritz, a Venetian classic, has also been shaken up and given the Facundo treatment. There are three on the menu and try all of them if you get a chance, but you can ask for any permutation of spritz that you want.
The second bar at the St. Regis is the sophisticated Arts Bars. Each of the signature cocktails is inspired by a work of art, with its own individual glass designed in Murano by the world-famous studio of Antonio Berengo. You’ll want to hear the story of each and everyone, and you can on the Lush Life episode with Facoundo and Antonio Berengo – as well as taste them.
I’ve just returned from Venice (June 2023) to find that Facundo and his team have added two new cocktails to the menu and will be adding two more later on in the year. The first is a tribute to Carlo Scarpa, the Venetian architect who not only designed the fabulous Olivetti store in St. Mark’s Square, plus many of the iconic modern buildings in Venice, but also inspired the architecture of the hotel refurb.
The design of the logo of the Arts Bar was also influenced by the master’s uses of line and his style of writing. The Carlo Scarpa cocktail was inspired by one of Scarpa’s more important works, the Tomba Brion, located near Treviso, outside of Venice.
Taking one of the tomb’s more prominent features – two interlocking rings, one covered with blue mosaics and the other with red mosaics, and working with Berengo again, the team have designed a clear glass with the upper rim colored blue and the lower base colored red. If you look into the glass and move it in front of you, it looks like the two circles are connecting like you can see in the tomb.
The ingredients of the cocktail are a nod to Scarpa’s passion for Asia, using Japanese whiskey as the base spirit combined with a homemade oriental syrup, plus Amaro Cipriani directly from Venice!
The other new cocktail on the menu is the AW Vision dedicated to the contemporary artist Ai Weiwei. The hotel already holds the White Chandelier by Weiwei as a few other important works of his. This cocktail combines Baijiu, a Chinese spirit, with pineapple and black pepper shrub and the very Venetian amaro Select to make a ruby red concoction that brings to mind the Chinese national flag. The glass is an elegant coup with the pincher of a crab on the stem, echoing his other works.
(If you are true Ai Weiwei fan, you will be impressed to know that the Baijiu has been fat-washed with sunflower oil which brings to mind the sunflower installation at the Tate Modern a few years ago.)
Don’t miss out on trying only one of the new cocktails on the menu! Everything they make it of the ultimate quality, plus the service is impeccable!
- Top Tip(ple)🍸: The Santa Maria, of course, but also the Arts Bar SLS cocktail! What can I say? It has my initials and is made with Acqua Bianca, created by another great Italian barman, Salvatore Calabrese, who reigned over Dukes Bar and is now known as Il Maestro.
Bar Dandalo at the Danieli Hotel
You might miss it if you didn’t know it was there, Bar Dandolo is tucked away in a corner of one of the prettiest and most dramatic hotel lobbies in Venice. The Daniele Hotel, soon to be managed by the Four Seasons hotel group, is Venice through and through. (Especially exquisite at Christmas time.) It’s one of the only Venetian palazzi to have an internal staircase.
One step through her threshold and you will be transported back to a time when you may have bumped into Goethe, Richard Wagner, Charles Dickens, or more recently, Peggy Guggenheim or Leonard Bernstein at the bar. Even James Bond was here in two classic Bond films – From Russia with Love and Moonraker.
If it’s a view you are after, then head straight up to the Bar Terrazza. As it’s one of the highest points on the Riva della Schiavoni, you get a bird’s eye view of San Giorgio Maggiore and of the entire Venetian Lagoon.
The cocktails equal the view in grandeur and brilliance. The bar team is headed by legendary Riccardo Naccari who led it to win such accolades as Gambero Rosso’s “Bar d’Italia” award as one of Italy’s Top 20 bars as well as one of the best “Bars of Italian Hotels”
- Top Tip(ple)🍸: Don’t miss the Bucintoro cocktail, a homage to the Venice’s State Boat that Napoleon destroyed when he invaded Venice!
Bar Longhi & Riva Terrace at the Gritti Palace Hotel
One step inside the Gritti Palace Hotel and you are greeted as if you were family. This is what makes the Bar Longhi so special. It’s not just a place to have a drink, it’s a place to call your own.
Pietro Longhi, the 18thC painter known for recording the daily life of the Venetians – think the People/Hello Magazine of his time – would not have been a stranger to his eponymous bar, if it has existed way back when. Everyone who’s anyone has enjoyed a tipple or two here.
Former patrons have included John Ruskin, Ernest Hemingway, and Dick and Liz, just to name a few, but don’t be intimidated by its provenance, its welcoming and warm staff will have you settled in, feeling like a regular in no time.
The Gritti Bar was officially crowned Bar Longhi in the 1970’s when, owner at the time, the Aga Khan, bought and hung three, original Pietro Longhi oils atop the bar’s marvelous glass walls where they remain today.
It’s not only the Longhi’s that make this bar a jewel. The gorgeous etched glass that lines the walls and the Sicilian carved bar decorate what may be the prettiest bar in Venice. The low seats invite you to stay all night and it is hard to leave once you’ve settled in.
As glorious as this room is, if you are visiting in summer, you’ll be drawn to the Gritti’s Riva Lounge, just outside on the Grand Canal. The Gritti teamed up with the ultimate name in luxury boats, Riva, to redesign the former Gritti Terrace. Close your eyes and you could be sitting in a Riva cruising along in style, open your eyes and there is that view.
Or maybe I should say views, not view. There is not a bad seat in the house. As if watching the traffic of gondole and vaporetti pass by isn’t enough – on one side, you have the amazing Santa Maria della Salute church, on the other is the island of San Giorgio Maggiore with Palladio’s wonder looking back at you, and then the last side is the Punta della Dogana, now the hippest of all art spaces.
All this fabulousness and we haven’t even mentioned the cocktails. The Bar Manager Cristino Luciani and his team are a delight and the cocktails are as gorgeous as the bar itself. If the Martini is your thing, then you are in the right place. Order the Gritti Martini and, in a matter of seconds, you will find in front of you Venice’s only Martini trolley, and, one of my favorite toys, the cocktail glass icer (the Glassicer?) which ices up a glass in seconds. In 30 seconds, we timed it, you will have an ice cold, Gin Martini in front of you. Now the rest of the time, you can relax without a care in the world.
- Top Tip(ple)🍸: The Wild Fennel Martini is not to be missed, nor is the Aquariva, the cocktail inspired by the brand itself which is as blue as the Venetian Lagoon.
Experimental at the Palazzo Experimental
If you call yourself a cocktail enthusiast and don’t know the Experimental Cocktail Company, you have been living under a rock. These cocktail industry legends completely changed the cocktail scene in Paris about 10000 years ago and then London, and now the rest of the world.
They have definitely added to the cocktail scene in Venice. Sitting on one of the most beautiful “streets’ in Venice, the Zattere, which overlooks the island of Giudecca and snuggled into the glorious Palazzo Experimental, they were set to win.
You’ll recognize the exterior of the building immediately by its original mosaics letters spelling out ADRIACTICO on the facade. Slip inside and you will find what “Milan-based designer Cristina Celestino…Intended to be a love letter to Venice” with its “typically Italian material palette of marble and antique mirror..” (Dezeen.com)
Lorenzo da Cola, Bar Manager, and Guillaume Pinaut, Food & Beverage Manager, collabroate to make both the Hotel Bar and the Experimental Bar both as inviting and as cutting-edge as Venice allows!
- Top Tip(ple)🍸: I adore their Caffe Scorretto, a play on the rumored favorite of the ladies in Venice, the Caffe Corretto, an espresso with a shot of grappa in it. Lorenzo and Gillaume have added Cognac and Amaro Nardini.
Gabbiano Bar at the Belmond Hotel Cipriani
Tucked into a garden on the island of Giudecca is one of the most famous hotels in the world, the Belmond Hotel Cipriani. Founded by the same Cipriani who brought you Harry’s Bar and the Bellini, the Gabbiano Bar does not disappoint.
No one is really sure why Mr. Cipriani named it for the seagull. There is the rumor that when he first bought the land the hotel sits on, he saw a colony of seagulls had inhabited the place. One thing is for sure is that o matter where you are in Venice, the seagulls continue to steal your canapes if left unattended!
Almost unaltered since the hotel’s opening in the 1950’s , the Gabbiano Bar has seen many bartenders throughout its history, but none as influential as Walter Bozanella. Reigning for more than 44 years, he finally decided it was time to hang up his white jacket this year (2022). Now someone else has the difficult task of filling his shoes and also capturing the hearts of all who enter. Not an easy task.
Riccardo Semeria has taken up the gauntlet. Another former Connaught Barmen, Riccardo is the perfect one to wow anyone stepping into the hallowed bar. He worked side by side Walter for the first few months and has now, not only mastered Walter’s classics, but is also creating ones of his own.
- Top Tip(ple)🍸: The Green Gold, Riccardo’s take on the classic Martini, and La Pera, a must for any pear lover, are just two winners that Riccardo has prepared for the new menu! It’s going to be so exciting to watch as Riccardo puts his stamp on this renowned institution.
The Londra Bar at the Hotel Londra Palace
Although the Londra Bar might not get all the fanfare of the other hotel bars, if you are a cocktail aficionado, it must be on your go-to list. Each cocktail is a masterclass on cocktail making and that due to the hard work and the enthusiasm of Marino Luccetti.
The Londra Hotel is the only Relais & Chateau hotels in Venice, so grab your copy of D’Annunzio’s “Pleasure” and settle in. From its location along the glorious Riva della Schiavoni, overlooking the Venetian Lagoon, you’ll understand how the author, a Londra Palace regular, could conceive of a book with that title.
Too bad he didn’t have Marino behind that bar. For even something as the ubiquitous as the Mojito, Marino is thinking of ways to make it, not only better but magnificent. They are truly works of cocktail genius. Make sure to ask him to describe each and everyone.
- Top Tip(ple)🍸: It would be tragic if you skipped Marino’s Bellini. In fact, you might have more than one as it is truly a celebration of white peaches. The Passion Fruit Mojito is also incredible. I could list them all, the Americano, the Old Fashioned, the Gin Martini – each a work of extreme pleasure.
Skyline Rooftop bar at the Hotel Stucky Mulino
You can’t miss noticing the Hotel Stucky Mulino on the island of Giudecca. This massive building was once one of the most important mills in Italy. It sat empty for years until it was restored and opened as a Hilton in 2007.
If there is one place to be at sunset, it’s here on the rooftop Skyline Rooftop Bar. Sip your cocktails while watching the sun disappear behind the outlying islands on the southern tip of the island.
Here Sebastiano Scarpa oversees the menu and with 370 rooms in the Hilton, his is not an easy job. With cocktails as easy to drink as these, I see why he’s always smiling. They are bright and fruity and fresh, as well as great to look at.
- Top Tip(ple)🍸: The MugniFigue is a triumph of pear and bourbon and his Rumbha makes you want to get up and dance the….you said it, Rumba!
Top of the Carlton Sky Lounge at the Hotel Carlton on the Grand Canal
Although many people arrive in Venice via the train station, few know that right in front of them, across the Scalzi Bridge is one of the best rooftop bars in the city. There sits the Hotel Carlton on the Grand Canal, what would appear to be an unassuming hotel, with an incredible bar.
On a sunny day, head straight up to the roof and you will find one of the great views of the city. If you are very lucky and the sky is clear, you can see the Dolomite Mountains straight in front of you. That is if you can pry your eyes away of the Dome of the Santa Maria di Nazareth (aka the Church of the Scalzi). With one sip, your attention will be diverted to the cocktail in your hand.
Enrico Fiorentini who spent his early years perfecting cocktails behind the bar at the Bar Longhi in the Gritti Palace Hotel is the reason why the cocktails are so fantastic. He is the ultimate barman, going that extra mile to make every sure everyone is enjoying themselves. He has an almost bionic ability to know the room and if you are not charmed by him by the first sip, I’ll eat my Doge’s cap!
- Top Tip(ple)🍸: Enrico’s Sgroppino is fantastic! This Venetian classic of lemon sorbet, prosecco, and vodka is as smooth as Enrico himself – in a good way!!