Jewel of the isle
“Nothing in the story of Venice is ordinary,” the author and historian Jan Morris wrote of the city that she came to fall deeply in love with during her ﬁrst visit in 1945. “She was born dangerously, lived grandly and never abandoned her brazen individualism.” It’s ﬁtting, then, that a place as extraordinary as the Belmond Hotel Cipriani has continued to flourish in the City of Bridges, building up an illustrious history matched only by La Serenissima herself.
Much has been said about the hotel’s stardust-coated roster of guests. It’s true that you might spot George Clooney communing with head barman Water Bolzonella at Gabbiano Bar in the wee hours of the morning, or Charlize Theron lounging beside the Olympic-sized, heated seawater pool. But celebrity-watching aside, Belmond Hotel Cipriani’s real allure is the way it lets you enjoy the city – when you want, wherever you set your sights upon and in whatever way you choose.
Perched on the tip of Giudecca island, the hotel is at once neatly removed from and right in the centre of Venice. Should you be ﬁlled with a sudden sense of wanderlust after midnight, a 24-hour boat service will deliver you to a private dock at Piazza San Marco within ﬁve minutes.
Alternatively, certain guests spend their time within the peaceful confines of Belmond Hotel Cipriani. There are few havens in Venice more comfortable than the hotel’s 95 opulent rooms and suites, many of which offer postcard-perfect views of the beautifully manicured Casanova gardens, Doge’s Palace or the turquoise expanse of the open lagoon. It’s an exquisite pleasure in itself to take in a dramatic purple-orange sunrise from your room, accompanied by lashings of thick, velvety hot chocolate from a silver jug.
The ultra-opulent Palladio suite (a two-bedroom suite from €9,350, S$14,324 per night) boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that present a 180-degree panorama of the lagoon in all its glory, which you can also make the most of from either of the suite’s two marble bathrooms or its splendid dining area. At the same time, it affords an unparalleled level of privacy, with a private dock and a large terrace (complete with an outdoor heated plunge pool) concealed by scented jasmine bushes.
In the adjoining Palazzo Vendramin – a 15th-century building connected to the main hotel by a flower-bedecked walkway – the Dogaressa suite (from €6,600, S$10,100 per night) encapsulates Venetian luxury. Furnished with Fortuny and Rubelli fabrics, original 18th-century Coromandel screens and an impressive selection of priceless antiques, the suite and its magniﬁcent view of St Mark’s Square are nothing short of breathtaking.
Guests can rely on Belmond Hotel Cipriani to help sate their appetites just as much as it provides a feast for their eyes. At Cip’s Club, chef Roberto Gatto’s food from the heart – Italian and Venetian treats such as strozzapreti tossed lightly in pesto, plump tortellini stuﬀed with parmesan, or crisp zucchini blossoms – elevates al fresco dining to the next level.
Then there is the Michelin-starred Oro restaurant (which means ‘gold’ in Italian), headed by executive chef Davide Bisetto, and ornamented with a domed gold leaf ceiling and a Murano glass chandelier. Preceded – ideally – by a signature ﬂamingo-pink Bellini at San Giorgio Bar, dinner at Oro will take you through Bisetto’s imaginative interpretations of classical Venetian dishes, bolstered by the restaurant’s fascinating wine list, which stretches to over 1,000 labels. From risotto peppered with roasted pine nuts and infused with the pungent aromas of deep-fried sardines and onion broth, to ﬁrm-ﬂeshed sea bass served with miso foam and dried caviar, Oro’s intriguing ﬂavours are a force to be reckoned with. Don’t be surprised if you end up utterly hooked.