Checking in to the newly renovated Hilton Molino Stucky Venice

Editor Hamish Kilburn checked in to Hilton Molino Stucky Venice, a hotel steeped in history, sheltering a recent renovation that reflects a contemporary direction for the property that frames the best views over and across Venice…

A luxury suite in Venice, with living room and bedroom in soft interiors

Capturing my first glimpse of Hilton Molino Stucky Venice on water felt apt, after emerging from the Grand Canal and feeling the nose of the boat lift as it accelerated and turned right. As the water taxi skimmed over the waves, the red-bricked building, formerly a flour and pasta factory, glowed in the late-afternoon sun.

Before it became a hotel in 2007, operated by Hilton, the shell of the Neo-Gothic building, on the western end of Giudecca island, was left derelict for decades following the owner of the mill Giovanny Stucky’s tragic murder in 1910 leaving the factory in financial instability. The hotel is now a modern hospitality hub, but it also stands in homage to the late entrepreneur. Not only is the hotel befittingly named after the former owner, on the exterior of the building, ‘G.STUCKY’ is carved out under the iconic clock, lit up at night, ensuring that his legacy lives on.

Since it became a member of the Hilton family, the hotel has adapted to answer to modern traveller demands while also retaining its distinct individuality – during my stay, I often had to remind myself that it was a Hilton hotel, given its indy vibes. For Italian design studio CaberlonCaroppi, which was responsible for the recent refresh of 194 rooms, the main challenge was to modernise the spaces in a sensitive way, creating a new image and a new style of design, while maintaining intact the strong identity of the building and what it stands for.

Light, contemporary design scheme inside room at Hilton Venice

Image credit: Andrea Sarti

Inside, the public areas feel grand yet also welcoming. The check-in area is discrete and the design of the space draws the eye towards the reclined lounge area. The new design scheme effortlessly blends contemporary details with subtle nods to the building’s storied history. ‘If only walls could talk’, I think to myself before catching a glimpse of the ground-floor corridors, which allow guests to read a timeline of the building’s history while making their way to the lifts.

From room to rooftop, the hotel is famous for framing postcard-perfect views over Venice. But the hotel deserves much more credit than purely its location. Hilton Molino Stucky Venice is quite possibly the hardest-working Hilton in the world – it’s certainly one of the most beautiful. In addition to ‘that view’ that the hotel casts, the rooftop has been cleverly designed and divided to harness a pool – the tallest in Venice – and a new buzzy bar called Skyline, which has been recently renovated.

Skyline bar at night overlooking Venice

Image credit: Hilton Hotels

To really understand the new direction for the hotel, then guests will need to check in to one of the newly designed guestrooms that reflect a modern take on Venician design. Gone are the traditional, classic Art Deco-style fittings and fixtures. Forget dark-wooden veneers and in welcome light, paired-back design schemes that use innovative lighting solutions and art to create a warm, spacious guest experiences that works with, and not against, the views over Venice.

“The protagonist of the room is a large wooden bed thats stylised contour reiterates the hull of a boat; when lying on it, it is possible to imagine you are drifting down the canals, in admiration of the city’s marvellous facades,” explained Chiara Caberlon, Co-Founder of CaberlonCaroppi. “The industrial building is recounted by specifically studied decorative and graphic details. Old mill blades serve a new decorative function on the wall behind the bed, accompanied by large hand-painted gearwheels adorning the writing desk area.”

Molino Premium Rooms inside Hilton Venice

Image credit: Hilton Hotels

To inject the hotel with a modern personality that felt distinctly local, the design studio established local collaborations. “The character of the rooms has been strongly defined by artisanal elements: hand-painted decorations by Picta Lab, which further enhance the history of the building,” added Ermanno Caroppi, Co-Founder of CaberlonCaroppi.

The corridors, meanwhile, have been coated with pastel shades and elegant light fittings and geometric carpets to create a harmony between design and the cast iron pillars characterised by the architectural structure.

Contemporary corridors with geometric pattern carpets and light walls inside Hilton Venice

Image credit: Andrea Sarti

Often following renovations of this scale, guests are left wondering how the new sensitively answers to the past. Within Hilton Molino Stucky Venice, some existing elements remain, such as the Murano chandeliers (when in Venice), the foundations of the bathrooms and, of course, the original ceilings – some of which, I am told, are vaulted – think upside down pyramid trunks – because it is where they used to store the flour and pasta when the building operated as a factory. It feels like these details haven’t been begrudgingly preserved to adhere to regulations. Instead, the design scheme feels layered so that there is a cohesion between the past and the present.

There is no greater example of this than in the Presidential Suite. Spread across two floors and boasting as the largest and tallest suite in Venice, the suite designed by Biagio Forino Studio is much about creating a home-from-home as it is about showcasing a statement on the European hospitality scene.

Pollock style art on walls inside Presidential Suite at Hilton Venice

Image credit: Andrea Sarti

“The greatest challenge was to transform the rooms inside the Presidential Suite from heavy and gloomy into light and bright environments respecting the genius loci and obviously also with an eye to the need not to exceed the budget limits,” Biagio Forino told Hotel Designs. “So, planning the revamp, I eliminated the heavy super-tents that hid the mullioned windows, replacing them with veil curtains that decorate the room without taking away the view.”

Majestic lounge with ornate windows inside Presidetial Suite at Hilton Venice

Image credit: Andrea Sarti

Forino replaced the dark parquet with a grey stained oak parquet laid with the Versailles design, and adopted all the shades of grey as a leitmotiv for both the walls and the furnishings, which were previously in a heavy walnut colour. The designed added: “When I saw the Presidential Suite for the first time, I was struck by the breathtaking beauty of the view that can be enjoyed from the windows of the tower, so the first goal I set myself was to enhance this precious element.”

Aerial view over Venice above Hilton Venice

Image credit: Hilton Hotels

It’s no easy feat, consciously transforming a building of this scale and stature into a hotel without it ending up looking and feeling like a museum. By almost tearing up the rule book – working with a number of interior design studios to inject spaces with soft interior notes – Hilton Molino Stucky Venice has written a new chapter in contemporary hotel design, proving that preservation pays when it comes to creating one-off hospitality experiences that, simply put, can’t be matched.

> Since you’re here, why not read about Hilton’s 600th hotel? 

Main image credit: Hilton Hotels