Fling open the window and lean out for a breathtaking view of the beautiful Italian Baroque church, La Chiesa Santa Maria della Salute, just across the Grand Canal from the Hotel Europa & Regina, one of five Sheraton hotels in Venice and Lido.

Sheraton's Hotel Europa and Regina in Venice

The Europa & Regina is the product of joining five 18th- and 19th-century houses, the nucleus of which belonged to the Tiepolo family, and it is here during the autumn of 1908, that Claude Monet stayed. The views out across the Grand Canal from the hotel (then named the Hotel Britannia), were the inspiration for his famous Venice paintings.

In 1995, the hotel became part of ITT Sheraton, and since last July, when an extensive renovation was completed, it has been a member of Sheraton's Luxury Collection. The elegant public areas feature marble and mosaic flooring and walls, traditional Venetian decorations and furnishings, and chandeliers of hand-made Murano glass.

Its two meeting rooms accommodate up to 200. There are 148 double rooms, 20 singles, and 17 suites, many with windows opening directly onto the Grand Canal. Bed sheets are pure linen. Ten of the rooms are "Smart Rooms," with fax, printer and copier, two telephones with modem hookup, work desk, and ergonomic chair. All bathrooms are done in Italian marble.

The hotel's restaurant, La Cusina, has its own entrance from Calle del Traghetto and is popular with locals and visitors alike for its classic Venetian cuisine. The restaurant can accommodate 90 in its banqueting hall.

Guests at the Europa & Regina have cross-privileges (at restaurants, bars, and recreational facilities) with the other four nearby Sheraton properties: the Hotel Gritti Palace and the Hotel Danieli (both in Venice proper), and the Hotel Excelsior and the Hotel des Bains (on the Lido across the bay, only minutes from Venice's Piazza San Marco by complimentary hotel launch). Of the five hotels, all except the Hotel des Bains are Luxury Collection members, and all have meeting accommodations. Sheraton's two Lido properties can host larger groups than the Venice properties (the Excelsior can accommodate 600 in its congress center, 1,000 for receptions). Besides the famous beaches, the properties offer a nearby 18-hole golf course, tennis, and horseback riding.

Guests at the Europa & Regina, the Danieli, and the Gritti Palace are only a few minutes' walk from famous Piazza San Marco. The city, of course, is a maze of fascinating streets, bridges, canals, and little hidden squares waiting to be explored (getting "lost" in Venice is practically a requirement for visitors.)

Across the Grand Canal, by either footbridge or boat, is the wonderful Guggenheim Museum. Peggy Guggenheim lived here with her husband, Max Ernst, and her impressive art collection includes works by Pollock, Picasso, Braque, Chagall, Dali, de Chirico, and many other masters of modern art. It is all on display in this gem of a museum, the palazzo that was once her home. The entire museum can be rented, after hours, for receptions.