Asia Times stops in Venice for the first of our Destination stories, offering the inside line on where to delight your senses and stir your soul, whether at a resort, restaurant, tourist site or city highlight.
What: Belmond Hotel Cipriani
Where: Giudecca, 10, 30133 Venezia, Italy. Tel: +39 041 240801. www.belmond.com/hotel-cipriani-venice
The story: Giuseppe Cipriani’s success with the now-legendary Harry’s Bar, which he opened in 1931, had him dreaming big. By 1956, he had located the perfect spot for a hotel – on the extreme point of Giudecca island, and on a site once home to monasteries where rich Venetian families sent young ladies, for their own protection. It might not have always worked, judging by the fact the nearby vineyards were known as the “Casanova orchards.”
So special because of: The setting – just far enough away from the bustle to feel utterly private but 10 minutes by launch to Piazza San Marco. The food — in either the Michelin-starred Oro or Cips’ Club, which sits on decking out over the water, taps into Venetian traditions: expect plenty of seafood. You can’t help but soak yourself in the pure decadence, lazing under the sun around the city’s largest swimming pool as you order in another Bellini cocktail, or grazing through a leisurely breakfast by the lagoon.
Don’t miss out on: The Casanova Wellness Centre offers treatments from across the globe, bringing welcome relief to legs worn out by a day traipsing around Venice with the masses. There’s even a Romance Ritual package for couples, inspired (as hopefully you’ll soon be) by the great man himself.
Don’t forget to ask about: Special tours, which include trips into the city’s unique boutiques and artists’ workshops, out into nearby vineyards and grottoes, or a walk through Venetian settings you’ll probably have seen in so many movies over the years, with a film critic to give you all the inside gossip.
The verdict: There’s a good reason the likes of George Clooney is a repeat visitor. The Cipriani is effortlessly charming – and distinctly private. The worries of the world can wait another day.