The 2010 It List
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Compared with cities like London or New York, changes come to Venice at the pace of a gondola. But 2010 will be a veritable speedboat ride for the somewhat stodgy destination. A spate of new hotels has already shaken up the hostelry scene, particularly the just-opened Palazzina Grassi, housed behind the Palazzo Grassi museum—itself one of Venice's most exciting new contemporary-art spaces. The hotel's 24 rooms are spread among two palazzi dating from the 16th and 19th centuries and mix classic Venetian decor with a more modern aesthetic. If it all looks vaguely familiar, that's because it was designed by Philippe Starck—surprisingly, it's his first project in Italy. That fact, and an intimate guests-only bar, promises to make the hotel a must-stay for status-conscious attendees of the Venice Film Festival and the Biennale.
Another new arrival, the Centurion Palace, on the Grand Canal, also brings more current design to a centuries-old landmark; steps from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and the Accademia, it manages to feel secluded but still central. Even the grande dame hotels are getting into the act: The historic Hotel Danieli, for one, just received a style transfusion from French designer Jacques Garcia (see La Mamounia in Marrakesh). While in town, don't miss the recently opened Punta della Dogana (pictured), the second art museum built by François Pinault, the luxury goods magnate behind the Palazzo Grassi. Superstar minimalist architect Tadao Ando has transformed the magisterial former Customs Building into a series of grand, light-filled interiors—a gorgeously reimagined space that exemplifies the city's new vibe.