Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.
Today (October 18, 2017): Review of Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice, Italy.
- Location: Google Maps
- Hotel website: Belmond Hotel Cipriani
- Tip: enjoy free VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso
An elegant oasis of serenity and style, Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice has a special place in Belmond history as the first hotel in its global portfolio of iconic properties, trains and river cruises. Set on Giudecca Island, a five-minute ride by private launch from Piazza San Marco, Belmond Hotel Cipriani captures everything La Serenissima is famed for and every inch of this iconic hideaway is guaranteed to enchant. Exquisite antiques and local artifacts whisk you back in time, while Michelin-starred gastronomy, charming staff and the only Olympic-sized swimming pool in the city offer modern sophistication. Known as one of the most celebrated luxury hotels in Venice, it is the special air of romance what sets this grand hotel apart from the rest.
Belmond Hotel Cipriani features in my top 10 list of the best luxury hotels in Venice.
In this review (more info below my slideshow & Youtube clip):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The word-famous Belmond Hotel Cipriani enjoys an enviable setting on the far eastern tip of Giudecca Island, overlooking Venice’s picturesque lagoon and – from its waterfront suites – offering fabulous views of the Venice skyline. The hotel represent a tranquil and exclusive oasis, a world apart from the hustle and bustle of central Venice, where the romantic canals and narrow streets are filled with herds of tourists. Giudecca Island is a secluded destination and retains an authentic, small village-like atmosphere, away from the crowds, which will appeal to most guests.
- Although the Belmond Hotel Cipriani is located across the lagoon from central Venice, it’s very easy to get to the ‘Queen of the Adriatic’. The property is a mere five minutes from Venice’s central square Piazza San Marco by private wooden motorboat, allowing guests the opportunity to explore the city’s charms, sights, shops and restaurants as much as they want. The complimentary boat shuttle service to/from Piazza San Marco runs every 20 minutes, 24 hours per day, and departs from the hotel’s lovely and picturesque courtyard in front of the lobby.
- The property’s intriguing history started in 1958 when it was opened by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice and inventor of the Bellini cocktail. The hotel achieved instant acclaim for its relaxed atmosphere and impeccable service, and a decade later, an Olympic-sized swimming pool and magnificent gardens were added to the property. In 1976, the hotel was sold for £900,000 to the Orient-Express Hotel group – rebranded in 2014 as the Belmond Hotel Group – who not only expanded the hotel into the adjacent 15th century lagoon-front Palazzo Vendramin but also launched the now world-famous Venice Simplon-Orient-Express to bring guests from London and Paris to stay at his new hotel. Under the new management, the Cipriani Hotel would soon become one of the world’s leading luxury hotels.
- The hotel features a classic Mediterranean, pink facade that blends in with the surrounding Renaissance structures. On the inside, the property has a contemporary feel, except of course when you are staying at the historic Palazzo Vendramin across the garden. The intimate lobby – which extends into an adjacant sleek-looking libary, a shopping arcade with window displays, and the restaurants and bar – features a remarkable red and white chess marble floor, sparkling chandeliers and beautiful floral displays, which are all subtile references to the Ventian grandeur. This tasteful mix of modern and traditional elements is further accented throughout the hotel by the presence of antiques, gilded mirrors, and sumptuous Venetian furnishings, including Murano glass chandeliers, Fortuny fabrics and Venetian artworks.
- The main hotel building embraces a large, lagoon-front courtyard which is home to one of the finest swimming pools in Europe and the only Olympic-sized pool in central Venice. Retreating to this peaceful pool area is a welcome respite after visiting the obligatory Venice landmarks in the sometimes oppressive heat. The massive, rectangularly shaped pool is filled with filtered seawater. There are plenty of loungers around the pool and on surrounding lanes, with several attendants standing by with fresh towels and cool drinks. In honour of the Venice Biennale of Art, celebrated local photographer Marco Rizzo has created an ‘underwater city’ on the bottom of the pool, which gives guests the sensation of swimming into a masterpiece.
- The hotel offers 96 exquisitely decorated rooms and suites (many with balconies or terraces). Guests can choose to stay in either the hotel’s main modern building with vistas of the lagoon, or in one of the hotel’s signature suites in the historic Palazzo Vendramin with panoramic views of Piazza San Marco. During my holiday, I stayed in a spacious Junior Suite – located in the contemporary hotel wing – which featured a light, fresh and airy decor, combining Venetian elegance with modern glamour. The marble-clad bathroom was fit for royalty and came with lovely ‘The Merchant of Venice’ toiletries. The suite boasted an enormous private terrace with lounge area and dining table, offering mesmerizing views of the pool and lagoon.
- The 16 rooms and suites in the former 15th-century palace, the Palazzo Vendramin, are the most desirable and lavish accommodations, especially since many feature Byzantine floor-to-ceiling windows that offer 180-degree views of the Venetian lagoon towards Piazza San Marco and the Doge’s Palace. The 15th century building is linked to the main hotel wing via an ancient courtyard and flowered passage-way.The Palazzo Vendramin’s most extravangt and lavish accommodation is the Palladio Suite, which has its own exclusive dock for guests to arrive and leave in privacy, an airy living room that opens onto a lagoon-view balcony, a private plunge pool and jacuzzi on a terrace surrounded by fragrant jasmine, two marble bathrooms, and a dining area where a personal butler can serve up to eight at an intimate dinner party.
- Belmond Hotel Cipriani is blessed with its magnificent Casanova Gardens, which are located between the main hotel building and the Palazzo Vendramin. The gardens are named after the legendary lover Casanova who used these very grounds to tempt women out of the monasteries to join him in the adjacent vineyards. The gardens – which once belonged to the wife of the Doge – are as romantic today as they were during Renaissance times. Not only do they feature white roses, cypress, pomegranate, and lavender, but also a small creek and lovely vineyard. The latter is planted with refosco, cabernet and merlot, and used to produce 2000 bottles annually of Casanova Salso, a reproduction of the 18th-century wine for which the region was known. This enchanted eden also supplies the hotel’s restaurants with daily salad leaves, edible flowers and herbs, all cultivated using totally natural, organic techniques.
- There are four dining venues and three bars to suit nearly all tastes. The focal points for foodies are the hotel’s two acclaimed dining venues, Oro and Cip’s Club.
- The menu of the 40-seat Oro Restaurant, which received its first Michelin star within two years of its opening in 2014 – reinterprets the hotel’s historic gastronomic tradition using the finest Italian ingredients.
- The less informal and yet undeniably glamorous Cip’s Club Restaurant still holds a reputation as one of the top spots in Venice, not only because of its mouth-watering food – a mix of Italian specialities and traditional Venetian cuisine – but also because of its alfresco setting on a wooden terrace floating over the lagoon with spectacular views of Piazza San Marco day and night.
- Giudecca 10 is the hotel’s third restaurant, located along the hotel’s central courtyard with an an alfresco terrace with colorful marble tables overlooking the lagoon. At night, it serves traditional Italian cuisine, while in the morning it is the scene of an exquisite breakfast buffet that is complemented by an a la carte menu.
- The Porticciolo Restaurant is located by the swimming pool, and open for lunch only, serving alfresco, buffet-style appetisers, brick-oven pizza, pasta, grilled delicacies, and a salad bar.
- The Belmond Hotel Cipriani is the flagship hotel of Belmond, formerly known as Orient Express until its rebranding in 2014. Belmond is a hotel and leisure company that manages a ultraluxe collection of 49 iconic hotels, trains and river cruises in 24 countries, bringing together some of the world’s most sensational journeys and destinations. It ranks among the most exclusive hotel brands in the world. With Belmond, you can stay in timeless hotels in Venice, Rio and St. Petersburg, embrace the spirit of adventure at Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat, glide along the rails through the Swiss Alps, soar across the Andes, or explore the mystifying rivers of Myanmar.
- Because of its legendary reputation, ultimate privacy, and superb facilities, it should not come as a suprise that the Belmond Hotel Cipriani is a celebrity hotspot. Each year, swarms of A-lister movie stars flock to the hotel for the famous Venice film festival. Brad Pitt, Jennifer Lopez, Meryl Streep, and Leonardo Di Caprio have all stayed here. In 2014, the hotel was booked for the exclusive use of George Clooney and his guests as the actor tied the knot with British lawyer Amal Alamuddin. The list of rich and famous is a long one but the Cipriani does an amazing job of caring for all its guests whatever their pedigree.
- The spacious heated swimming pool, red clay tennis court, magnificent gardens, intimate spa, and docking facilities lend the property an undeniable resort atmosphere. The Belmond Hotel Cipriani feels indeed like a resort destination within a destination, and it’s always a pleasure to retreat to this tip of Giudecca Island on the edge of Venice’s picturesque lagoon after a stroll through Venice’s old city center.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
Belmond Hotel Cipriani lives up to its stellar reputation as a place to call home when visiting the magnificent city of Venice. The accommodations, leisure facilities (e.g. pool, gardens), dining venues, and service are second to none. Nonetheless, you may want to know the following when considering a stay here:
- While many guests may dream of living at the Belmond Hotel Cipriani year-round, the hotel is open for just seven months each year, from the end of March until the beginning of November. It closes for the winter season and reopens in the spring, usually to reveal some great new enhancement.
- The hotel’s secluded location on a tranquil island across the lagoon from central Venice may be a hit or miss depending on what you want. If you want to walk out of your hotel lobby straight into the mysterious labyrinth of Venice’s cobblestone streets, then this probably isn’t the place for you. However, as said above, the location shouldn’t deter you at all as the hotel is only a 5 minute complimentary boat ride from Piazza San Marco (Venice’s central square) and boats run every 20 minutes, 24 hours a day. And IMHO, being away from Venice’s tourist madness is one of the hotel’s best selling points.
- Contrary to the historic style of many hotels in Venice (such as Aman Venice and The Gritti Palace), Belmond Hotel Cipriani features a remarkable contemporary and light decor. For some, the neo-classic interiors may feel a bit old-fashioned, especially in the lobby and shopping arcade. However this style of upscale luxury is impeccably maintained. And if you’re really into staying in a grand palace, you should book yourself a room in the adjacent 15th-century Palazzo Vendramin.
- All this luxury comes at a steep price, which is why the hotel’s clientele tend to be well-heeled couples, celebrities, and families on posh vacations. Keep in mind that this is the flagship hotel of Belmond – one of the world’s most exclusive hotel brand– and the property is located in Venice where holiday budgets come to die. You should know that going in.
- Location: 9/10
- Design: 8/10
- Pool: 9/10
- Rooms: 9/10
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 9/10
- Spa: 8/10
- Service: 10/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks at Belmond Hotel Cipriani when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
- Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Belmond Hotel Cipriani.
- Room tip: a lagoon view room or suite with balcony is your best choice if you like to watch the world go by. If you prefer the charm of an old Venetian palace, you need to book a room or suite inside the Palazzo Vendramin, where accommodations enjoy spectacular views of Piazzo San Marco and the Venice skyline.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
Late spring and early summer are the best times to visit Venice as far as weather is concerned. But the city during these beautiful warm days is packed with tourists, meaning that there can be long waits to enter museums and sights. Also during this peak time, finding accommodations – budget or otherwise – can be a challenge. In summer, the city can be oppressively hot, the canals ripe with odor, and the inevitable mosquitoes are bothersome. Venice’s location, in northern Italy on the Adriatic Sea, means that the city has colder, longer winters. While winter can be a great time of year to visit, especially in terms of getting a bargain and avoiding crowds, it can be harsh (the winds that whip off the Adriatic and down the alleyways are bone-chilling).
HOW TO GET THERE
Venice is served by 2 airports.
- Venice Marco Polo Airport is located 8 km (5 mi) north of the city and it served by most European full-service carriers (click here for a direct link to their websites) as well as by some non-European airlines. Check the Wikipedia page of Venice Marco Polo Airport for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Venice.
- Treviso Airport is located 20 km (12 mi) from the Venice city center and is served by some European low-cost carriers (click here for a direct link to their websites). Check the Wikipedia page of Treviso Airport for a continuously updated list of airlines that offer direct flights to Treviso.
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