San Clemente Palace: From Real Life to Paradise
Located on the private island, Isola de San Clemente (San Clemente Island) in the Venetian Lagoon in Italy, just off of San Marco in Venice, Italy, is Kempinski San Clemente Palace. The words “private island” and “palace” should already be a good indication of the experience this five-star hotel offers. Kempinski is Europe’s oldest luxury hotel group and believes that life should be lived with style. The hotel’s elegance and exclusivity evidenced by the very first introduction to the hotel: a private small wooden lanta boat, arriving every thirty minutes or so, that guests take from San Marco Square to reach the hidden destination. This resort transports you from real life to paradise.
Part of the magic of a true vacation is derived from putting yourself in surroundings so unlike your usual environment that you feel like you have escaped the mundane. Routine and our ordinary day-to-day make it easy to forget to expand your horizons and engage in self-exploration. When we travel and shake up this routine, more than ever, we feel free to be who we are or who we want to be. Kempinski San Clemente allows you to transpire yourself to feel like an heiress, fall in love with someone or something new (even if just for a few days). Unless you already live on a private island in a monastery-turned-hotel, it should be very easy to feel liberated in this entirely new, out-of-the-ordinary setting.
Making our way around the island, the hotel, an expansive structure with 190 rooms, is visible immediately, its rust-colored exterior, white transoms, and high three-part windows radiating venetian style. The walk from the dock to the hotel is nothing less than cinematic, through sprawling gardens, the tall shrubbery lines the walkways. There is an outdoor romantic nook around every turn and classic wicker furniture to sit comfortably or sunbathe. Upon reaching the grand entrance, you’ll notice the Romanesque vision detailed through the staircase, old fashioned wooden railing, regal red carpet and tiered crystal chandelier that sparkles from the windows and reflects light to every corner of the room. As royal and breathtaking as this entrance is, the staff enhances this formal atmosphere through their amiableness and down-to-earth pleasantries.
Alessia the “Lady in Red,” something only Kempinski Hotels have, is the equivalent to a Guest
Relations Assistant. She takes care of her guests’ requests and is dressed in red patent leather heels and a classic A-line dress. Alessia guided us to our rooms, her heels clicking against the marble. It’s Alessia’s first season at the hotel and she knows the entire history of the property. A seasoned
traveler herself, Alessia immediately greeted us with grace and informed us with exquisite detail on the hotel and island. Between the 15th and 16th centuries, San Clemente became prominent for being “the gateway to Venice.” Captured from the writing of Venice in 1493, the famous Marino Sanudo described the Bucentaur as “a marvel, in which the Prince and Senate go to any great lord visiting the city; they go to San Clemente or elsewhere, depending on the direction from which the visitor is coming” Eventually, the buildings on the private island were transformed into a luxurious hotel — now newly managed by the Kempinski group.
The island and building was used in the 12th century as a monastery, smaller than this back then. After that, it became the home of the Lord of Venice where he hosted his special guests — giving the hotel a very significant and historical background.
The hotel’s occupancy is high because there are three restaurants, a bar, fitness center, spa, pool, and boutique on site (with some of the cutest resort wear our team has seen). Any one location on site is rarely crowded, offering guests plenty of private time with their traveling companions. Make no mistake, the hotel is large and it may take a day or two to get familiar with the layout and the grounds. Our team and several other guests experienced issues with their key cards during the stay causing quite a bit of up and down. Hopefully this is something the hotel will fix in the future.
As far as cuisine goes, our recommendation is to go straight to Acquerello, located in the churchyard
on a large terrace. Enjoy views of the lagoon, flickering candlelight, and the sky at sunset, surreal and seemingly stolen from a painting. The Italian-Mediterranean fusion restaurant’s menu changes every Friday with new creative cuisines. From hamburgers made from prawns and smoked egg spaghetti marinated inside a pig’s bladder (en vessie) to deconstructed tiramisu and a delightfully gelatinous rhubarb mousse with a house-made jam garnish, here you will find dishes you’ve never experienced. Don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations from the highly knowledgeable wait staff. If you’re lucky enough to be served by Elio, whose background as a sommelier and experience serving at the Gritti Palace, Rome Grand Hotel, New York St. Regis, and The Savoy show his ingrained passion and love for gastronomy — you will be guided to the best service and recommendations in all of Venice.
If you are considering a destination wedding, San Clemente Kempinski seems to have been designed for this very purpose, sacred in its beginnings and its spiritual essence provide the perfect place to pronounce a new marriage. Its magnificence and charm will assure you to experience the most magical day of your life.
Overall, there is nothing that we would not recommend to anyone about our experience at San Clemente Kempinski. Staying here stimulated relaxation but also creativity that you do not normally feel on your everyday routine.