Venetian living gets a contemporary and cosmopolitan twist at Casa Flora. Discerning travellers seeking accommodation in The Floating City should opt for a custom-made stay at Casa Flora where Venetian living gets a contemporary and cosmopolitan twist courtesy of hoteliers Gioele Romanelli and Diego Paccagnella.
Located in a 19th-century building in Venice's San Marco quarter, the design-led apartment-hotel takes an artisanal approach to its accommodations. The space is furnished almost exclusively with Italian materials and detailing - think doors fashioned from briarwood and mullion windows in the living room. In theory, the apartment-hotel could be at home anywhere in the world, but on closer inspection its thoughtful details give its genesis away.
Artisans that still operate in Venice and the Veneto region make most of the furniture pieces - visitors enamoured by the collection can purchase most items to take home. Consider it the savviest souvenir shopping you've done in years. If Casa Flora proves one thing, it is that Venice is an unexpectedly contemporary city (and that a beautifully crafted hotel room can be more affordable than you might expect).
While many of Venice's outputs are flamboyant creations, this city centres around artisanal production. Blending grandeur with graft, Casa Flora combines high-ceilinged private rooms with chicken-wire glass partitions. Interiors blend the past and present with ease; all three bedrooms lean towards the younger end of the design timeline. Both the watery-hued Noah room and the sunshine-yellow Alma are similarly laid out with many objects mirrored across both boudoirs - take the flora pouf made of terrazzo textile pattern by Rubelli (whch also supplies the fabrics for the headboards) as one such example. Noah is the bigger of the two rooms and can become a triple (with a large pouf doubling as a bed). Both have oversized bathrooms with hammam, terrazzo double sinks half of which is taken over by indoor plants. Then there's the cardinal pink Elsa Room, which can be used as a third bedroom. It has a large bed which can turn into a sofa in the middle of the room and opens out into the main living room via elm wood doors. Molto luxe.
What's for breakfast?
Breakfast - a typical continental buffet - is served at nearby Hotel Flora from 7am to 11am and in the garden from 8am (weather permitting). Yet with an inviting kitchen in your apartment, eating in is equally appealing. Gather around the large central green-stone island (designed by Matteo Ghidoni) and order breakfast to your room for a surcharge of €15. If you're a late riser, arrange for brunch (at least two days in advance) to be prepared by the pastry chef. Sample local products, sweet and savory flavours and dine at your leisure, stopping between bites to admire charming views over the rooftops and neighbouring Venetian terraces. Brunch is available for €50 per person per order. We suggest rotating between the two as the hotel breakfast, while a little dated, is extremely charming. Endearing waiters are busy warding off pigeons, the patio furniture is salmon-hued and, on occasion, a lethargic guest will call down from their bedroom window to enquire until what time breakfast is available.
How about lunch and dinner?
With a large, brushed briarwood dining-room table (made by Xilia) big enough to seat 12, a dinner party at Casa Flora is really more of a necessity than a nicety. Don your glad rags (we're dressing in Mariano Fortuny-inspired silk and taffeta gowns) and tuck in. If in-room dining is something you've gotten a bit of a taste for, why not mix things up and rustle up your lunchtime meal yourselves, sourcing products from the Mercati di Rialto. If you can't work the hob (or in truth are just a little lazy) you can choose from four light lunch options - we'd vouch for the caprese or bresaola salad.
Is there a bar?
A barman is on call from 3.30pm to 11pm to introduce you to local wines and international cocktails. Take matters into your own hands and mix up some bellinis (native to Venice) for a pre-dinner tipple to challenge the Harry's Bar original.
If you can steal five minutes with the owner, Gioele, your visit to Venice will be made all the richer; his insider knowledge of the city is second to none.
Things you should know
Overtourism is a problem for Venice. A stay at Casa Flora helps to counter this with positive sustainability initiatives - including minimising plastic usage across the hotel and using recycled paper products.
Within a short walk you'll find
Full disclosure: you'll need a boat to get to Fondazione Berengo arts centre (it's a short walk to the pontoon at least) but it's worth it. Just off Fondamenta dei Vetrai (Murano's glassblower street) you'll find the Berengo studio. For €7 you can tour the studio and learn about Mr Berengo's visionary work collaborating with artists, helping them reimagine their artworks in glass form. Artists such as Ai Wei Wei, Tracey Emin and Tony Cragg have worked with Mr Berengo (who was a friend of Peggy Guggenheim, just by the by). After a walk through the studio, continue down the canal for a few minutes and pop into the Glasstress exhibition space where many works by the aforementioned artists (among others) are on display.