“If we want everything to stay as it is, everything needs to change.” So says Tancredi in the great twilight-of-the-aristocracy novel Il Gattopardo. It could be the motto of historic Venetian grande dame The Gritti Palace, whose recent £36.5m top-to-toe restoration was designed to make everything look the same – just even more opulently stylish. One example: every sparkling teardrop pendant of every vintage chandelier was detached, repaired or replaced and polished by Murano artisans. The upgrade is most keenly felt in the 82 rooms, their antique décor and fine Rubelli silk fabrics freshened up by designer Chuck Chewning, without forfeiting any romance. Personable GM Paolo Lorenzoni is one of the best in the country – courteous, ever-present, quick to respond to problems – and the staff, in their impeccable vintage liveries, are role models in a city that doesn’t always get service right. A waterside breakfast on the terrace overlooking the shimmering Grand Canal has to be one of the great Venetian experiences – it knocks a Bellini in Harry’s Bar into a cocked hat.