If it’s romance you’re thinking of when the city of Venice is mentioned, then take note: thousands of other articles and tales have told this story for hundreds of years. There’s no need for me to wax lyrical about the romantic arrributes of what is quite possibly the most beautiful – certainly the most unique – city in the world. It’s all been done before and no doubt you already know.
But if it’s adventure you’re after, and art and literature and cinema, well, there’s no better place to study the best of the old and the new side by side. When I was there during the height of this summer, there was an international architecture biennale on over here; a magnificent Zaha Hadid exhibition in a palace over there; a tour of the magical Querini Stampalia library and palace; and a Helmut Newton retrospective just steps away from my hotel, the spectacular Belmond Hotel Cipriani.
Set on the tip of Guidecca Island, with views across the harbour to all of Venice, the Hotel Cipriani is where the action goes down. Film stars such as George Clooney literally call this hotel home, and it’s fitting that currently, during the Venice Film Festival which is taking place right now, the Cipriani is acting as the unofficial backstage, with everyone who’s anyone staying there.
Having been to Venice once before, upon arrival I opted to get the local vaporetto from the train station to soak up the atmosphere of Venice on the short trip through the canals and across to the island, with the idea to refresh my fond memories of the city. Entering via the hotel’s back entrance, I immediately stumbled into the manicured gardens with the smell of jasmine and rambling roses as my entrée. Met by the gardener, he tells me to watch out for the friendly bunny who usually occupies a patch of flowers and who, like Clooney and many others, also calls the Hotel Cipriani home.
Entering the lobby of the Hotel Cipriani is like stepping onto the set of a retro, and rather fabulous Italian film set. Originally built in 1958, the hotel was bought in 2014 by the Belmond group but still retains its mid-century glamour and charm. Occupying the lobby, there’s a cast of characters – the chatty concierge, the haughty receptionist, and the handsome young bellboy – all of whom had me in hysterics within minutes, giving a sense of warmth and familiarity that I have never felt upon check-in at any other hotel in the world. In short, from the first moment, this hotel was wonderful.
With 95 luxurious rooms and suites and an Olympic size swimming pool – and you thought Venice didn’t do pools! – the Hotel Cipriani is set apart from the hustle of Venice, which can at times be tiringly touristy. But what makes it magic is a quick 5 minute jaunt from the hotel to the private jetty in St Mark’s Square by the hotel’s private boat, making the hotel an oasis of calm amidst the spectacle of Venice.
Worldly travelers to Venice would be wise to unwind in what is considered one of the most chic and luxurious hotels in Europe. Conveniently apart from the ruckus, but close enough to enjoy the carry-on from a box seat, the Hotel Cipriani prides itself on its impeccable service, attention to detail, and fantastic character. And in a city as theatrical in nature as Venice, it’s the perfect place to sit back and enjoy the show.