City Guide: Venice, Italy

Italian-born writer, cook and photographer Valeria Necchio tells us how to do Venice properly.

"Venice has been painted and described many thousands of times, and of all the cities of the world is the easiest to visit without going there", writes Henry James in his preface to Italian Hours.

There's no doubt that there are few mysteries left to a city like Venice, a place that defeats change and holds on tight to its traditions and sense of eternity. It's a city that, for centuries, has lived under the spotlight of the world's elite, its very soul documented in all forms.

Nothing changes, nothing is undiscovered, and yet there always seems to be more to say, more to see. Every visit to the floating city is a surprise, or the pleasant confirmation that, despite the crowds and the tourist attractions, there simply isn't another place like it.

The elusive nature of Venice means that a lot of its charm rests in the details - in the crumbly palazzi and quiet alleys; aspects that would be hard to include in a list of prescriptions. So make sure to walk, get lost, see the city at night and dawn, when it's emptied of people: the details will come to you.

As for the rest - where to stay, eat, drink, shop, go - we've got you covered. All you need to do is show up hungry - for beauty, food, and romance.

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Ca'Maria Adele

Venice, Italy

Tucked away in tranquil, artsy Dorsoduro, this intimate boutique hotel combines Venetian opulence with modern, gothic and exotic accents. The five concept rooms (Doge, Moore, Noire, Oriental and Fireplace), feature dark damask fabrics and elaborate Murano chandeliers, and are at once stylish and pleasantly sumptuous. The deluxe rooms and two suites, while just as lavish, show a slightly subtler décor, with muted tones and raw materials that feel quintessentially urban.

Address

Sestiere Dorsoduro, 111, 30123, Venice

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Palazzina G

Venice, Italy

Exclusive while also less obvious than other options in the same price range (such as the Gritti, Bauer and Danieli) this contemporary five-star hotel has 16 rooms and six stylish suite apartments, some overlooking the Grand Canal and all discerningly decorated by French designer Philippe Starck. A highlight of the hotel is the Krug Terrace, which in the summer provides a privileged view over the rooftops of the city, plus plenty of quality bubbles.

Address

Sestriere San Marco 3247 30124

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San Clemente Palace Kempinsky

Venice, Italy

This fabled luxury hotel has been converted from an 11th-century monastery located on the bucolic, grass-carpeted private island of San Clemente, in Venice’s southern lagoon. Each of the 190 elegant rooms features all of the things you’d expect from a structure of this stature: charm, comfort, character, as well as a restful sight of the adjacent gardens. An impeccable choice if you need some respite from the crowds at some point during your stay.

Address

San Clemente Palace Kempinski Venice Isola di San Clemente 1 30124

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Aman Venice

Venice, Italy

Aman Venice lies inside the illustrious Palazzo Papadopoli, a 16th-century building hosting, among its many treasures, frescos by Tiepolo and fireplaces by Sansovino. While the lounge and dining areas are grand and richly adorned in perfect palazzo style, the majority of the bedrooms showcase a current taste and a neutral, soothing palette. The hotel also has inner gardens and a hidden jetty, affording plenty of privacy for the occasional celebrity.

Address

Calle Tiepolo 1364 Sestiere San Polo 30125

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Marchesa Grand Canal

This 19th-century European party capital still throws one of the most extravagant parties in the world: Carnevale di Venezia. Fit for royalty, this sumptuous apartment benefits from private water access and a vast central courtyard perfect for a masquerade ball. Head up to the canal-side balcony to wave at your subjects below and be sure to casually drop into conversation that Wagner used to hang out here.

Address

S. Marco, 2113, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy

This image is on holiday

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B&B San Marco

A stay at this creaky little family-run B&B is like visiting grandma’s house, providing your grandma is a collector of Italian antiques, that is. B&B San Marco prides itself on its non-touristy credentials. It’s in the less-visited Castello neighbourhood just five minutes from Piazza di San Marco – not the city’s most appealing attraction but a good base for heading elsewhere.

Address

Castello 3385L 30122 Venice

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Combo Venezia

From the outside this upscale hostel has all the hallmarks of old Venice – artfully hewed stony colonnades, columns and airy vaulted ceilings – but inside it’s like a white-washed, 21st-century Stockholm hangout. Expect to find neon light installations and Bauhaus-style sofas, as well as a balcony overlooking the canal.

Address

Campo dei Gesuiti 4878 30121 Venice

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Hotel We Crociferi

Located in the heart of the city of gondolas and carnivals, We Crociferi allows you to sleep (and party) in a former monastery. In contrast to its walled courtyard, original frescos and Romanesque columns, the old cells have been turned into contemporary housing units catering to the adventurous traveller. Although only open to guests during the summer months (when it becomes a hangout for locals and tourists alike) the hostel offers an array of activities – think outdoor movie nights, karaoke sessions and art workshops – that are well worth the wait. While the dorms are kept simple, the communal areas are where the experiential design comes to light. Inside the ancient walls, warm lights, vintage maps, open-brick structures and stripped-back wooden tables create an industrial contrast to the original medieval features. Don't miss out on the traditional Italian dishes served at the restaurant and bar – or having a few Aperol spritzes in honour of your pious predecessors.

Address

Campo dei Gesuiti 4878, 30121 Venice Italy