This organic approach has resulted in a space that feels deeply rooted in place: both Venice and Eastern Europe. Vitorrja is named for another one of Gjelina and Gjusta’s sisters, who grew up with them in Montenegro. “We based this a bit on what Vitorrja’s home might look like now,” Armistead said. “It’s very Eastern European. It’s not elaborate, and we didn’t want anything flashy. We wanted everything to feel strong and honest and stable.” Indeed, there are no frills to be found in Vitorrja, though the spaces are undeniably soothing, if in a moodier, edgier palate than Venice’s beachy norm. Some of the bathrooms have dark clawfoot soaking tubs with gold taps and nudes reclining in oil paintings above, while other bedrooms have armchairs upholstered in deep greens and reds. With art and mirrors on the walls instead of flat-screen TVs, the rooms feel wonderfully low-tech; plans for an onsite library are in the works.
Which isn’t to say Vitorrja is only a space to nest in. Like Venice itself, the hotel can be many things to many people. The front desk can arrange for everything from bike rentals to yoga to beach picnics, packed with goods from Gjusta. If you want to cook or host friends for dinner, some of the suites come with dining tables fit for a crowd, along with Smeg refrigerators. For lovers, there are headboards covered in velvet and suites with terraces overlooking the ocean, while for those mourning the end of an affair, there are always those bathtubs. “You can always call us and say ‘You know what? I want the bedroom with the bath,’” Armistead says. “‘Please make sure there are extra salts. I’m coming in to cry for two days.’”