Europe, Hotels and resorts

If Paris is the city of love than Venice must be the city of romance and passion. There’s no where else on earth quite like it. The narrow canals, beautiful crumbling buildings, iconic gondolas and the constant threat of flooding make it a destination on everybody’s list.

We recently had the pleasure of visiting one rather famous hotel in Venice, The Cipriani. Unlike many of the luxury hotels in Venice that are hidden down alleyways on the mainland, the Cipriani Hotel is not on the mainland at all. We first headed down to the most famous landmark of them all, St Mark’s Square where the Cipriani’s own private water-taxi will take you over to the hotel on Giudecca island. If the boat isn’t already there you just dial 9 on the telephone at the jetty and the complimentary boat will come and pick you up. It’s just a short 10 minute scenic cruise across the water.

Arriving by boat to a hotel really does make for great first impressions, the island of Giudecca glides towards you as you approach and walking through the gardens to reception instantly makes you feel that you’re away from the busy tourist areas of Venice. We met Marco Cossutta, the Chief Engineer who kindly showed us around the bedrooms and suites of the hotel before dinner.

Hotel Cipriani hotel facts

  • There are currently 96 rooms. There used to be 116 until they created more suites to give guests a larger living space.
  • There are 2 pools, one for adults and one for families.
  • The hotel is split over 2 buildings, the main Hotel Cipriani with 79 rooms and the Palazzo Vendramin with 16 rooms, some of which have stunning views of St Marks.
  • There are 3 restaurants to choose from, one for lunch and 2 for dinner
  • Room prices range from around 700 euros up to 7000 euros for the most exclusive suite
  • Casanova was a frequent visitor to the island of Giudecca and it’s vineyard gardens.

Cipriani Suites

The first thing you notice about the suites is how modest they are in interior design. They are spacious and bright with simple tones, clean lines and everything neatly in it’s place. The bedside lamps are beautiful Murano glass and the bathrooms are Italian marble of course. Many of the rooms in the main building overlook the lush green courtyard below. I really liked the style of the rooms here, it’s clear that quality is much more important than fashionable brand names. It gives the suites a feel of understated opulence rather than brash luxury.

The Cipriani also has 4 large suites with sublime views of Venice especially St Marks. One of which has a roof top terrace balcony with panoramic views of the mainland and hotel. It must be the best hotel room view in Venice! Most hotel rooms in venice have very enclosed views due to their proximity with other buildings. Being away from the mainland gives a whole new perspective on the city.

Fine Wine

The hotel boasts it’s very own vineyard, not something you usually see in the gardens of a hotel. The grapes are used to make Cipriani’s “Casanova Salso” which is bottled by a winery in Tuscany and given to hotel guests as a gift. In the 18th century the hotel’s island of Giudecca was famous for it’s vineyards where the salty air created a distinctive wine, so it’s fitting that the Cipriani continue this great tradition.

The hotel is actually closed from mid November until April presumably as the floods are worse during that period and access to the hotel is restricted. It also has one of the best room service I have ever seen. Marco explains that they discovered guests often preferred to eat in the privacy of their suite in the evenings so they created a world class silver service with a menu designed around the client’s taste. I was tempted to eat in one of the suites but then I would have missed out on their restaurants!

Dinner at the Cips Club

The Cipriani Hotel has 2 evening restaurants, the more exclusive Fortuny Restaurant that overlooks the tranquil lagoon and the casual setting of the Cips Club next to the Palazzo Vendramin area of the hotel. The Cips Club is styled like a private yaght that extends out over the water. Protected from the wind, it offers the perfect view of Venice mainland over the water as the sun sets. I had the rather divine Il “Fritoin” di Pesce con Zucchine e salsa al Rafano otherwise known as fried Adriatic seafood and Zucchini, horseradish sauce. The acoustic guitarist quietly playing nearby was the perfect accompaniment for the 48 or so guests enjoying the views of Doge’s Palace and the Campanile.

The service at the Cips Club was a particular treat. Called by name, the service felt wonderfully personal and attentive while never hurrying, even though the restaurant was full. Service really can make a big difference to your experience of a restaurant or hotel. It’s a fine balance that they seem to have mastered at the Cipriani.

Bar Gabbiano

No perfect evening in Venice would be complete without sampling a few Bellinis in the Gabbiano bar. A wonderful quartet were playing while we were there. Something that has proved popular with guests, they will be appearing at the bar 3 times a week from July 2011. You can also order yourself a cocktail invented by the Hollywood actor George Clooney who is said to have created it one night during the Venice Film Festival. Just ask for a “Buona Notte”.

Our view

The Cipriani hotel has a quiet dignity about it which is a refreshing treat for a luxury hotel. Rather than chase fashion to entice it’s guests, they have remained resolute with their own brand of quality. The views are everything you’d hope for in Venice while the service is personal and welcoming. The serenity of being away from the tourist traps of the mainland make the Cipriani the perfect romantic setting, in the what must be the ultimate city of romance.