First, let's cover the basics... and there are a lot of them. The exterior of this Venice, Italy themed resort has replicas of St. Mark's Square, the Clock Tower, the Bridge of Sighs, and of course a canal with gondolas. It's a pretty faithful reproduction and looks great, especially at night with the charming street lamps ablaze. There are several main entrances - one from the street takes you directly into the casino, another on the second level (accessed by walkways and moving sidewalks) provides access to the Grand Canal Shoppes, and off of the main drive you are taken into the lobby.
My vote has always been to use that main lobby entrance for the full effect. A huge, soaring rotunda greets you, decorated with stunning murals that were hand-painted by artists from all over the world. Ornate marble columns with intricately carved, gold leaf tops encircle the large gold fountain that fronts the lobby/main desk area. Although it has a nice design, with green marble counters, detailed crystal chandeliers, and a large mural of Venice, I still feel that the front desk area is too small for a hotel of this size. Expect long lines.
Off of the rotunda is an area called the Grand Colonnade, a three-story marble hallway that leads to the casino. Several stories high with more intricate paintings and sculptures, the Colonnade features a unique marble floor that appears three-dimensional if you look at it right.
The Colonnade leads you to the casino, a 120,000 square foot monster that seems much smaller than it really is. I've never been wild about this casino in the past despite a couple of significant wins in the past. These days it is almost unihabitable in my opinion. The casino floor is jammed with machines creating a jumbled, chaotic, overwhelming mess. I wanted to run for the doors.
The rooms are gorgeous, with an enormous marble bath with a separate tub and shower, make-up table, framed mirrors, and water closet just inside the front door; next is the "sleeping chamber" with one or two beds plus a giant flat-panel television; finally, a sunk living room features a big sectional sofa, a table and chairs, a writing desk, and another big TV.
Furnishings are elegant, sleek, and modern, with dark woods, simple textures, and a rich sense of luxury. The TVs are big and flat and just in case your arm is tired from having pushed all those slot machine buttons, the drapes are electronic. Amenities include plush robes, fax machines/printers, high-speed Internet access, irons, safes, mini-bars, and more.
If you can swing it without having to pay too much extra, try to get a room in the Venezia tower. Located on top of a parking garage, this 1,000 room tower has a more understated design than the audacious, take-your-breath-away look of the main building but that doesn't change the fact that this is one gorgeous space. The public areas are filled with intricately carved dark woods, gleaming marble tile work, Guggenheim quality frescos and framed artwork everywhere you look, gas-lamp-like lighting fixtures and soaring chandeliers... if they haven't imploded this place to make way for something better in 100 years this space will be worthy of its own museum.
Rooms here are essentially the same as in the main tower only with higher ceilings, which gives things a little bit more of an airy feeling. Concierge level suites include its own club overlooking the Venezia's exclusive pool.
Outside of the room, there are plenty of distractions if gambling and/or sleeping are not on your agenda.
For instance, on the second level above the casino is the Grand Canal Shoppes mall, a recreation of a Venice street scene complete with a canal and gondolas running down the center.
There are many restaurants by famous chefs including Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, Mario Batali, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Buddy Valastro to name a few.
The giant and luxurious Canyon Ranch Spa is another special feature, offering every exercise and pampering option known to man. Nearby is the giant pool deck featuring five pools and Jacuzzis and guests of The Venetian may use the pool area at the newer Palazzo next door.
For entertainment you've got the Australian vocal doo-wop group Human Nature in one of the showrooms. There's also a branch of Madame Tussaud's wax museum if that kind of thing doesn't give you the heebie jeebies.
We're not done yet. Don't forget the lounges, nightclubs, and bars and if you can't find enough to do here, you can always take advantage of even more of everything at The Palazzo, a sister hotel that is connected to The Venetian but operate as separate entity for the most part.
Service is just fine. Friendly faces abound and everything ran like clockwork.
Parking has always been a bit of a nightmare here - there just doesn't seem to be enough space for all the people that want to visit and it is a very long walk from the garage to the front desk. You may want to consider parking next door at The Palazzo. It isn't any closer but it is certainly a lot easier to use.
Room rates are almost painful, but not too far out of line for what you're getting. It is one of the most expensive hotels in Las Vegas but everything is expensive these days so it doesn't seem quite as outrageous as it used to. Figure paying $159 and up per night during the week and at least $250 on the weekend. Note those are the low end and prices are usually significantly higher than that and that does not include their mandatory $39 (plus tax) per night resort fee.
The Venetian had never been one of my favorite Vegas hotels, primarily because of the cost but the recent room upgrades make it more appealing in my opinion. If you can afford it, there are very few places in the city (or in the world for that matter) that do luxury better.