Belmond Hotel Cipriani, Venice, Italy

Like the bellini said to have been invented by its founder, the Cipriani is a slice of la dolce vita blended with a touch of timeless elegance

you even set eyes on the Cipriani, you’ll know you’re
going to get along famously. The VIP treatment begins from the
moment you step off the plane, when you’re intercepted by a
black-suited Venetian, whisked past the queue for passport control
and onto the hotel’s sleek private launch. Gliding across the
lagoon towards that incomparable skyline of domes and campaniles,
it’s easy to imagine Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor reclining on
the same cream leather. They’re just a couple of the stars (not to
mention royals and presidents) who have signed the hotel’s guest
book since it opened in 1958.

Zipping past the tourist-heavy centro storico, the boat will
take you onto Giudecca, the island that lies south across the water
from San Marco Square. The hotel’s slightly set-apart location
might sound like a drawback, yet travelling to and fro isn’t only
seamless, thanks to the all-hours water shuttle service zipping you
over to the Doge’s Palace in five minutes, but adds magic to the
stay. There’s something headily, surreally glamorous about
sauntering up to the private jetty and summoning your speedboat on
the old-fashioned telephone, especially as the city’s bells strike
midnight and streetlamps glow through the sea mist.

The hotel’s lush exteriors, left, and a calm breakfast

The setting also enables the Cipriani to offer something that’s
generally in short supply in Venice: space. Within its sprawling
walled gardens, you’ll find vines, herbs and vegetables growing, as
well as tennis courts and the only swimming pool in central Venice
(an Olympic-sized one, to boot). Founder Giuseppe Cipriani – whose
other claim to fame is inventing that quintessential Venetian
tipple, the bellini – wanted to give Europe’s post-war jet-set an
urban retreat that was close to the action while secluded and
tranquil. Fittingly, the exterior is painted the same peach hue of
his signature drink.

The Cipriani doesn’t follow trends; it’s confidently classic,
from the breakfast table laid with white linen tablecloths and
heavy silver coffee pots through to the lobby’s polished marble
floors and Murano glass chandeliers. Thoughtful flourishes, like
the little gifts that await in your suite each evening (a Murano
glass bauble, a tin of biscotti and marsala wine), ensure you feel
a million dollars throughout your stay. La dolce vita is alive and
well in this corner of the lagoon.

A peek into the arching green gardens, left, and an open
window lighting a luxurious suite.


In a word, sumptuous. Each of the 96 rooms features a private
balcony or terrace, spacious marble bathroom and Venetian artisanal
fixtures, such as Fortuny light fixtures.

What’s for breakfast?

Fill your boots for a day’s sightseeing with the Cipriani’s
exceptional spread. The buffet is heaped with freshly baked
confections like custard-stuffed brioche, seasonal jam tarts and
the local fruit cake delicacy pan del Doge, as well as Italian
charcuterie and cheeses (who says you can’t start the day with a
slab of gooey Gorgonzola?). Be sure to slather your yoghurt or
toast with the raw honeycomb from nearby Sant’Erasmo island.
There’s also an à la carte menu offering eggs and cold-pressed

How about lunch and dinner?

Michelin-starred Oro restaurant lives up to its name, with
guests dining beneath a golden dome on an eight-course tasting menu
from Noma-trained chef Riccardo Canella. Looking for something a
little less formal? The overwater Cip’s Club excels at classic
Venetian dishes like wafer-thin carpaccio, clam spaghetti and
stuffed artichoke flowers. In summer, there’s also seafood and
oyster bar Il Porticciolo.

The bright, airy bar, left, and a fresh dairy breakfast

Is there a bar?

Naturalmente. Bar Gabbiano is the place to go for cocktails,
specifically, a bellini, which was the first drink on the menu when
Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar and creator of the
peach-and-prosecco concoction, opened the hotel. After that, you’ll
want to sample la nina’s passion, an entirely new drink whipped up
by the hotel’s veteran mixologist for none other than George
Clooney. The drink features elderflower liqueur, sparkling wine,
lime juice and passion fruit.


The Casanova Wellness Centre woos stressed-out visitors with its
anti-jet-lag, sleep-promoting and garden-themed rituals – the
latter involving a citrus foot bath and rosemary-scented massage.
Come summertime, the saltwater outdoor swimming pool is one of the
glitziest places to hang out in Venice. The hotel can organise
children’s activities and cooking classes for those who require

What are the hotel’s eco-credentials like?

In the Cipriani’s restaurants and bars, there’s clearly an
effort to source ingredients locally, including some from the
hotel’s own gardens (which are watered with rainwater as much as
possible). Single-use plastic has almost been stamped out
altogether, and there’s monthly staff training on waste reduction.
Globally, Belmond aims to get certified by eco-benchmarking group
EarthCheck by the end of this year.

What about accessibility?

All restaurants, the spa and some bedrooms are now fully
accessible, and staff will prepare and plan with guests to help
make water taxi transport as comfortable as possible. More widely,
local government has been improving accessibility to the city’s
sights, such as adding ramps over bridges.

What’s the crowd like?

A-list stars rub shoulders with Old Money.

Within a short walk I can find…

Once the private launch deposits you at San Marco, big-hitter
sights like St Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace are mere steps
away. From there, you can meander onto the Rialto (10 mins),
Gallerie dell’Accademia (15 mins) or Peggy Guggenheim Collection
(20 mins).

Things I should know…

In your room, look out for the beautiful linen-bound concierge
box, which contains details of behind-the-scenes private tours and
experiences that the hotel can organise.

Discover More
City Guide: Venice, Italy