Hotel Cipriani & Palazzo Vendramin ★★★

A restaurant at the Hotel Cipriani on Giudecca in Venice
A restaurant at the Hotel Cipriani on Giudecca in Venice.

A compound of glorious Renaissance villas occupying the tip of Giudecca island in Venice, Italy

There's only one reason to remove yourself from the easy access of Venice's six main islands and hole up on the Giudecca, the long curve of a residential island just south of Dorsoduro and accessible only by a ten-minute boat ride: the Cipriani, a sumptuous retreat for the truly rich and rather-not-be-bothered famous.

It may not have been the first luxury hotel on the Venetian scene, but it certainly ranks as the top luxury hotel in Venice these days.

The Cipriani occupies a series of Renaissance villas and palazzi right at the tip of Giudecca, including for the most discriminating visitors private-home lodgings in a 15th century palace complete with your private butler.

This bastion of luxury was opened in 1958 by Giuseppe Cipriani, the man behind the deluxe hospitality empire that began with Harry's Bar and the Locanda Cipriani restaurant on Torcello (he was so tight with Hemingway, Papa actually made Giuseppe a character in Across the River and into the Trees).

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A room at the Hotel Cipriani on Giudecca in Venice
A room at the Hotel Cipriani on Giudecca in Venice.

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Hotel Cipriani & Palazzo Vendramin ★★★
Giudecca 10- Occupying the very eastern tip of the island
Vaporetto: Zitelle
tel. +39-041-240-801

» book

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Lodging tips
  • If you're looking for a hotel near a particular sight, just go to that sight's page and, in the sidebar on the right, you'll see a list of all the nearby hotels (with "Reid Recommends" choices preceded by a little RR icon: Reid Recommends).
  • The Venice hotel tax: As of 2011, Venice began charging a Visitor Tax. This is the city's doing, and it is not a scam (just annoying). All charges are per person, per night, for all guests over the age of 10, and the tax is charged for stays of up to 10 days. (There are discounts: Dec-Jan, 30%; Kids aged 10-16, 50%; Stays on the Lido or other outer islands, 20%; Stays in Mestre or elsewhere on the mainland, 20%.)

    The cost breakdown is insanely complicated (varies with official clasification and rating cateogry), but general as of 2014:

    • Hotels: €1 pppn (per person per night) per star rating. (So a couple [2 people] staying three nights [2 x 3 = 6] in a four-star hotel [6 x €4 = €24] would pay an extra €24.
    • B&Bs: €3 pppn flat
    • Apartments, residences, rental rooms: €1.50–€2.50 pppn
    • Hostels/religious housing and agriturismi: €2 pppn
    • Camping: €0.10–€0.40 pppn

    Some hotels have folded the fee into their quoted rates; most properties tack it on as an extra when you check out. Just be prepared.

  • Book ahead in summer and during Carnevale: Venice is way more popular than the number of beds it has, so while in the dead of winter you can often show up and find a good place to crash easily, the best rooms (and the best-value hotels) are booked well in advance for the summer months and the two weeks prior to Ash Wednesday (when Venice breaks out the fancy dress and masks for its famed Carnevale celebrations).

    Same goes (though less so, and more at the chic and high end hotels) during the Venice Biennale art festival and the Venice Film Festival.
  • Pay extra for A/C in summer: No matter what kind of lodging you pick, if it's summer (a) try to get a room with air-conditioning and (b) even if you can't (or you can but have a hankering for some fresh air) resist the urge to open the windows to your room.

    Venice is, I believe, the primary breeding ground for the mosquito population of Southern Europe, and precious few Italian hoteliers have discovered that newfangled invention called window screens. Keep the windows shut, or prepare to be bitten.

    (Also, carry some bug spray for those romantic canalside dinners outside. Trust me.)
  • Avoid Mestre: Any hotels with an address in "Venezia-Mestre" is actually in the dull, modern, industrial suburb at the mainland end of the bridge over to the real, ancient Venice you came all this way to see. Do not stay in Mestre! You'll spend more time and money commuting each day in an out of Venice proper than you will save.
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Hotel Cipriani & Palazzo Vendramin ★★★
Giudecca 10- Occupying the very eastern tip of the island
Vaporetto: Zitelle
tel. +39-041-240-801

» book

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