by Lynn Elmhirst

Westin Europa and Regina_TerraceCourtesy of Starwood Hotels - Deluxe Terrace Suite - Palazzo Regina

My arrival was by vaporetto, one of Venice's glamorous, vintage-looking water taxis, cruising past the most splendid scenes of the city, and dropping me at the Westin Europa and Regina's private landing. 

The pier is nestled between a glorious terrace bar and uniquely wide terraces for the hotel restaurants, all facing the spectacular Grand Canal and the famed Salute Church opposite. With non-stop water traffic of gondolas, vaporetti and cruise ships in the distance, guests can simply establish themselves with prosecco on the terrace bar to be in the front row of the theater of Venetian lifestyle.

Westin Europa_ExteriorCourtesy of Starwood Hotels

Instead of a North American concept of a luxury hotel where you enter into a grand lobby with a bank of elevators, there's no direct line to anywhere in the Westin Europa and Regina. It's actually a number of canal-side 18th century villas brought together. Part of its charm is exploring the passageways of different patterns of black and white parquet floors, marble architectural details and lofty, elaborately decorated ceilings.

A remarkable percentage of the 185 rooms and suites – including my own – have private terraces with the same stunning views over the Grand Canal and Salute Church, and modernized versions of 18th century décor. 

Westin Europa_Room with ViewCourtesy of Starwood Hotels - Room with a view

Within the historic architecture, the Westin Europa and Regina incorporates the modern, North American services of the Westin brand, with in-room entertainment, a mini bar stocked for North American tastes, 24-hour room service and even the Westin's signature fitness, running, and workout gear lending program.

Although it's difficult to tear yourself away from the views of the Grand Canal at the front of the hotel, if you exit out the back door, it's mere minutes' walking past shops and cafes to landmark St. Mark's Square, the Rialto Bridge, and the rest of dazzling Venice.

Originally published in Cruise & Travel Lifestyles Spring/Summer 2016 issue. 

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