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A Very Good Habit
The Gritti Palace
Sometimes an indulgence evolves into a ritual—usually a promising development. You eat at Le Bernardin restaurant once a year, go to the opera when your favorite soprano comes to town, sit court-side when your team plays the Knicks. These are good habits to get into. Likewise, you might go to a special hotel to celebrate a meaningful occasion, which I consider to be a really good habit.
For our family that’s been the Gritti Palace, where we stayed for my dad’s 60th birthday (or was it his 50th?), and a handful of other special trips to Venice. As it happens, the last time I was there was during the flood of 2019 (which I wrote about here), when it was harrowing to see the staff moving historic furniture and artwork from the lobby to higher ground for safety.
Last week was a happier affair. It was my birthday and if you’re not thrilled about the arrival of your birthday then go to a nice hotel, it really changes the subject. You can focus on important things, like going to a museum and eating well. Venice is a good place to do this (my city guide will be coming soon). And the Gritti is the perfect place to stay. Not cheap, not merely expensive, it’s really up in the ether, (though try reward points from your credit card). That’s why you don’t check in for a week every May, alas. You’ve got to budget and plan ahead—so ditch the lodge in Montana and check into a motel (as I did a few weeks ago).
The Gritti’s had the same concierges for decades, who are wise and helpful. The dining room is just lovely (though you might prefer to sit outside on the canal). Like all enduring hotels it’s more than its winning qualities, it’s a feeling you have when you’re there. It recalls historical charm while being in the pleasure of the moment. This is why we go to the great old cities. After nearly two years of quarantine and disjointed travel it’s welcome to be in a place where your life is a little more grand, if only for a few days.