Concierge.com's insider take:
It's not often that a stylish but also relatively affordable new hotel opens right on the Grand Canal. Next to the Ca' Rezzonico water bus stop—a scenic half-hour ride from the main train station—the palazzo owes its present appearance to former owner Ernesta Stern, a wealthy socialite and art collector who had this eclectic home built on the ruins of a 15th-century palazzo in the years leading up to World War I. It's basically a high-quality pastiche, but this makes it a great setting for a hotel: With its mosaic-studded private chapel, colonnaded waterside terrace (where breakfast is served), and imposing carved wooden staircase, it evokes the dreamy spirit of Venice without the solemnity of a museum. The mostly spacious 24 bedrooms are done in a relaxed antique Venetian style in shades of wheat and magnolia. The panoramic rooftop terrace features a four-person whirlpool tub—but guests have to pay an extra $90 an hour to use it. Don't write off the standard rooms at the back of the hotel; they lack the Canal view but are a lot quieter and overlook a pretty garden.