Hotel Spy: Hotel Heureka in Venice
A chic, art-filled palace away from the tourist hubbub, in low-key Cannaregio
Where am I staying?
A ‘pinch yourself it’s so magical’ boutique hotel in a freshly restored 16thcentury Venetian palazzo. Tip: splash out a little extra to pull up at the front door in style in a water taxi, which around here means a sleek wooden motor launch (as featured in the opening sequence of George Clooney’s stag do). What’s different here? The Heureka is set in the sestiere of Cannaregio, the northernmost and most populous of the six districts of Venice. While the neighbourhood does have a film-set feel (a period drama was being filmed right outside while we stayed here), local life carries on all around. Cannaregio is home to many artisans and we watched gondolas being built, jewellery crafted and other palazzos being slowly saved from crumbling into the silt. Art and design spills throughout the hotel itself, from exquisite original stencilling revealed in the restoration of the ceiling of its central lounge, to the constellationeffect chandelier you duck under on the way through the lobby (see above). Each of the 10 rooms is uniquely styled; all are united in having grand proportions and gorgeous detailing.
Are the views any good?
Rooms to the rear look out over the garden and, at a squint, the murky Venetian lagoon beyond higgledypiggledy rooftops. If your budget can stretch to it, opt for one of the bedrooms at the front, which have ridiculously romantic views along a quiet canal.
Where can I eat?
We ate a splendid breakfast of fresh figs, pastries, and omelettes cooked to order. While the Heureka has an amply stocked bar, there isn’t a restaurant serving lunch or dinner. Note that even Cannaregio has its share of trattorie that are geared towards fleecing visitors; and that places specialising in seafood should not open on Mondays, when the Rialto fish market is closed. For a classic Venetian spritz with cicheti (light bites), nearby Il Paradiso Perduto overflows with atmosphere and good cheer (hotel-heureka.com; rooms from £164).
Waking up to the fantasy that you live alongside a Venetian canal, and have deep pockets and extremely good taste. After a while, the hotel’s hip playlist edges into repetitive piped muzak.