The Australian - Wish Magazine - - HOTELS -

From the day it opened in 1956, the Ho­tel Cipri­ani has been a favourite of the Hol­ly­wood jet set, and dur­ing the an­nual Venice Film Fes­ti­val it’s still a mag­net for the beau­ti­ful peo­ple. It was the brain­child of Guiseppe Cipri­ani, the founder of Venice’s fa­mous Harry’s Bar. His idea was to build an ex­clu­sive ho­tel within easy reach of St Mark’s Square but one that was also far enough away to be quiet and pri­vate.

If your travel re­search in­cludes a Google Maps search, your ini­tial thought might be that the Cipri­ani’s lo­ca­tion is a draw­back, since it ap­pears to be nowhere near the throb­bing cen­tre of Venice, but don’t be fooled – its lo­ca­tion is a plus.

The set­ting on Gi­udecca is­land to the south of Venice has made it a haven for the rich and fa­mous and the just plain rich. The lo­ca­tion makes it more like a re­sort (com­plete with clay ten­nis court, Olympic­sized swim­ming pool, well­ness cen­tre and mul­ti­ple restau­rants) than a ho­tel. From the break­fast ter­race at the Oro Restau­rant the view is fac­ing south to­wards the Lido and over to the 16th-cen­tury Bene­dic­tine church San Gior­gio Mag­giore on the left. It’s easy to for­get the bustling city of Venice is right be­hind you. The Cipri­ani is just 10 min­utes by boat from St Mark’s Square and a free shut­tle ser­vice runs from a pri­vate dock there to the ho­tel 24 hours a day.

The Cipri­ani is re­ally two ho­tels in one, the orig­i­nal re­sort build­ing plus a 15th-cen­tury palazzo that was ac­quired in 1977 and trans­formed into a 16-room an­nex. The Palazzo Ven­dramin is linked to the main ho­tel via an ex­ten­sive man­i­cured gar­den that in­cludes a wa­ter-lily pond, flower beds burst­ing with colour in spring, a herb gar­den, a re­stored vine­yard, rose gar­dens and vast lawns.

Rooms and suites in the Palazzo Ven­dramin face the la­goon, which means many of them have spec­tac­u­lar views back to Venice, St Mark’s and the Doge’s Palace. The 125sqm Dog­a­ressa Suite has one of the most spec­tac­u­lar views in all of Italy.

Many of the 95 rooms in the main Cipri­ani build­ing also have views of the la­goon and San Gior­gio Mag­giore; oth­ers face on to the gar­dens. Many also have bal­conies or ter­races. The Pal­la­dio Suite comes with its own pri­vate dock for guests to come and go in com­plete pri­vacy, a heated plunge pool and 180-de­gree views of the Vene­tian la­goon.

In 1976 one of the ho­tel’s reg­u­lar guests, James B. Sher­wood, an Amer­i­can-born Bri­tish-based ship­ping mag­nate, heard that the ho­tel was los­ing money and might be for sale (Giuseppe Cipri­ani had re­tired from his role as pres­i­dent in 1972) and he bought it on a whim for £900,000. A year later he bought two ne­glected train car­riages, rem­nants of the fa­bled Ori­ent-Ex­press, from Sotheby’s and set about ac­quir­ing 25 more of them. In 1982 after restor­ing the train he re­launched it as the Venice Sim­plon-Ori­ent-Ex­press and brought his ho­tel port­fo­lio, which in­cluded the Villa San Michele in Florence and the Ho­tel Splen­dido in Portofino, un­der the same um­brella. In 2014 the group was re­named Bel­mond.

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