The legendary travel brand Orient Express, part of the world-leading Accor group, has signed a partnership agreement with the Italian hotel group Arsenale SpA to open the second Orient Express hotel in Italy in the spectacular Palazzo Donà Giovannelli in Venice. The Groups selected architect and interior designer Aline Asmar of Amman and her Culture in Architecture studio to design and decorate the space.
Venice, once the gateway to Constantinople and a mythical stage of the mythical Orient Express train – which opened its doors in 1919 with the completion of the Simplon tunnel linking Switzerland to Italy – will host the second Orient Express hotel, which will open early 2024.
Located just ten minutes from Venice Santa Lucia Station, next to the Cannaregio shopping area and steeped in the origins of the City of the Doges, Palazzo Donà Giovannelli is a precious palace built in 1400 by the architect Filippo Calendario, known for the famous Doge’s Palace. Former residence of the Duke of Urbino, patron of the arts, it has been renovated twice, notably in 1800 by the architect Gian Battista Meduna. Formerly an art gallery which housed the painting La Tempesta by Giorgione, it successively belonged to the Donà and Giovannelli families.
An ode to the heritage of Venice, inspired by all the cultures and eras that have forever marked its history, the Orient Express Venice hotel will host 45 rooms and suites, all overlooking the gardens and canals of Venice. The hotel bar will be located in the former piano nobile ballroom on the ground floor of the building. A world-class restaurant will introduce guests to the flavors of Italian gastronomy. Selected terraces hidden on the roofs of the hotel will offer the most beautiful views of the wonders of the Serenissima.
As soon as the hotel opens, passengers on the Orient Express La Dolce Vita train will be able to disembark directly at Venice Santa Lucia station and reach the Orient Express Venice hotel on foot or by boat.
Orient Express Venice: between East and West
Born in Lebanon, Aline Asmar from Amman, through her Culture in Architecture studio, creates projects where past and future come together, where culture symbolizes a bridge between continents. Convinced that beauty is added, in her own words, to “the poetic soul of the world”, she has designed the interior architecture of numerous private residences and has taken on the artistic direction of luxury hotels such as the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris and emblematic restaurants. like Le Jules Verne at the Eiffel Tower. She also collaborated with Karl Lagerfeld in the creation of prestigious decorations and a collection of marble objects and furniture. Last April, she unveiled the architectural scenography of the Lebanese Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale.
Embark on a journey to discover Palazzo Donà Giovannelli with Aline Asmar D’Amman
From the main entrance and its garden, accessible from the train station along Strada Nova, or from the neo-Gothic and multi-layered facades that can be visited from the Rio de Noal by boat, Palazzo Donà Giovannelli is filled with beauty and greatness. It’s an island within an island, where doors and windows anchored in the sea seem to speak directly to the sky above.
A single step inside this palace evokes a feeling of complete enchantment. You enter as if you were leafing through the pages of the book of time. It is a dive into an ageless romanticism, where the heritage of the stone seems to freeze in time whispering layers of stories to be revealed. From the carved marble entrance, plastered walls in lost faded colors to the masterful octagonal Gothic Revival staircase designed by architect Meduna, art and a sense of eternity collide. On its vaulted ceilings, the domes call for light and theatricality.
On the ground floor, or piano nobile, its many lounges and ballrooms house 800 years of history. It’s a journey through the ages, a mixture of baroque, neoclassical and gothic styles with the splendor of oriental fantasy, an exoticism that transcends the realm of possibility. The rooms are decorated with patterns, mosaics, stuccoes, paintings, frescoes tinted with forgotten colors and marvelous cherubs. The walls are full of puzzles never meant to be solved.
Orient Express Venice