Check out our review of the JW Marriott Venice hotel Resort and Spa, Isola delle Rose, situated on one of the biggest islands in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. On this calming and relaxing island, you’ll find Michelin star menus Venetian food and booze, away from the busy crowds of Venice. Want to find out more about the best things to eat in Venice? Check out our quick guide to Venetian food here.
It’s a 20-minute journey by boat (a free shuttle) from the hubbub of St Mark’s Square to this private hotel-island. It retains the calm of a wellness retreat: the palette is cleansing whites, soft blues and muted greens; the century-old parkland of chestnuts, cedars and pines is a flourish of foliage unusual for Venice.
There’s also a slick spa and two pools – one for families, plus a rooftop adults-only plunge, where you can float with skyline views. The idea here is to combine busy city-breaking with holiday relaxation that’s just one click removed from the Venice crowds.
The Marriott opened in March 2015 and by December that year its Dopolavoro Dining Room – housed in the old clinic’s working men’s club – had gained its first Michelin star.
The restaurant is headed by Giancarlo Perbellini (whose has an eponymous two-star restaurant in Verona) and run by Federico Belluco, one of Italy’s youngest starred chefs. Belluco instigated the island’s kitchen garden, and utilises its aromatic herbs, edible flowers and fresh vegetables in his tasting menus. His salad’s are drizzled with the island’s own delicately flavoured olive oil, the only olive oil produced in Venice.
Less formal is Sagra, the Marriott’s fresh, bright, rooftop restaurant, which serves Italian dishes from the Veneto and beyond, with views over the lagoon. Our charismatic waiter helped us navigate the menu of traditional antipasti, pasta, platters, salads, mains and desserts (how many courses would be right?).
Smokey grilled octopus with fava bean puree and roasted artichokes left room for tender tortellini filled with silken mushroom, while the crab meat and asparagus antipasti was a light enough to allow for a hearty seafood stew swimming in monkfish, shrimp, mussels and clams. Finishing with tiramisu, a Venetian speciality, seemed obvious – though a rich and creamy bavarese ai tre cioccolati pipped it to the post.
The Sagra wine list was an all-Italian affair. A dry, light Veneto soave classico went well with the fishy dishes. Definitely, make time for a spritz – the easy-to-love local refresher of Aperol and prosecco is pimped-up in the Marriott’s Veneto Spritz cocktail with added limoncello and cherry liqueur. Better than the drinks menu, though, is the drinking location. The rooftop bar has panoramic views of the lagoon and the city.
While many Venetian hotels channel Carnivale ostentation, the Marriott has a tranquil, minimalist vibe. There are 266 modern, neutral-toned rooms and suites, but as they’re spread across the island, there’s a sense of space. Smallest are the Deluxes in the main building, some of which have terraces; the bigger, lighter Junior Suites all have balconies overlooking the gardens or Venice – a good pick.
The mezzanine La Maisonette rooms are the most architecturally interesting – their glass walls sit within the original brickwork – though they don’t have the scenic outlook. If budget is no barrier, opt for the La Residenza suites, which have private pools with Venice views.
Breakfast is not included or advised. The full cooked and continental buffet would be fine if included but is too ordinary for €29. Catch the first boat over to San Marco, nip down a backstreet and grab a macchiatone and pastry instead.
The hotel’s Sapori Cooking Academy runs a selection of courses. Make local dishes after a tour of the Rialto market with a Chef Micki or learn to create authentic cicchetti (Venetian tapas). Other food experiences include a garden tour with the island’s farmer and tastings of the olive oil, produced from the island’s 100-year-old trees.
Rates start at €395 per double, room only (marriott.co.uk). Breakfast costs from €21pp for the continental buffet. Return flights from Gatwick, Luton, Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh to Venice cost from around £60 (easyJet.com). More info: turismovenezia.it
Words | Sarah Baxter
Photogrpahs | Marriott hotels