You know you’re in for something special when you’re told that access to your hotel – located on Venice's Guidecca Island away form the hustle and bustle of the city's waterways and alleys – is via a shuttle-boat from a private jetty.
On the Belmond Cipriani’s broadwalk, just off the famous St Mark’s Square, a small, black telephone is concealed within a box, next to a bench, overlooking the lagoon. A quick mention down the line that you’ve arrived, and the next thing you know you’re being sailed to your room.
The location of Belmond’s Hotel Cipriani is undoubtedly what sets it apart from other five star Venetian residences. Being located on a separate island, yet just a stone’s throw away from the throng, makes it feel like a different world. Here you have calmness, space and privacy unrivalled by any other establishment in the city. And with these facets comes a true sense of relaxation – which is why it is the only hotel in Venice that you feel happy to stay at for longer than a mini-break. In fact, even a week here would fly by.
That is also in part to the Cipriani's facilities. Firstly, it is famous for its Olympic size, fresh sea-water pool (no other city-centre hotel here has a pool). It is a stunning setting for lazing, and you can sunbathe while looking across the church domes of Venice.
Inside the famous hotel, style blends historic and contemporary with numerous Venetian touches. The 96 suites and rooms feel lofty and fresh, with that sense of minimalist-maximlailst that only the Italians could pull off so well. Locally made Murano glassware compliments the handpicked antiques and oil paintings, while pink-marble bathrooms have a vintage character and seem ludicrously large. Some rooms have garden views, while others look across the lagoon or have private poolside terraces. Every touch in both the public and private areas feels incredibly chic, and it is easy to imagine the Hollywood royalty of a bygone age treading the same paths and admiring the same surroundings.
The staff, of course, compliment this feeling. The hotel operates like an incredibly well-oiled machine with guests’ wishes anticipated at every turn. At breakfast, which is ideally taken on the garden terrace with morning sun beaming in, the freshest fruits and Italian pastries and savouries seem to find their way to your plate without you even knowing.
All other meals are equally indulgent. Cip’s Club restaurant is perfect for lunch – located on the lagoon side of the Guidecca, it is where locals go for a relaxed lunch of local dishes such as amazingly thin sliced carpaccio. The hotel also has a restaurant with a Michelin Star, called Oro, which is possibly the most elegant dining room in the city. Every night it caters to the celebrities and royalty who flock to the hotel like gulls. The vibe is decadent but not showy.
Then of course there is the hotel’s famous bar – imagine what stories have been shared around it. It is the ultimate place for a Spritz, or the Venetian classic, a Bellini.
And for the morning after, there is a fitness centre, red-clay tennis courts, and a spa. The hotel also has its own marina if you fancy a private boat tour.
But of course, with so much on offer at the hotel, you have to remember its main attraction – the fact that it is in the most beautiful city in the world – and it can be difficult to drag yourself away from the Belmond Cipriani to make the most of it.
Words by Toby Mellors
The Cipriani in Venice, with rooms starting from £639 per night.