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Vivian's Corner

Rooms with a View of Romantic Venice

"The Cipriani is the best hotel in Venice and among the best in the world," said Roberto Senigaglia as he steered his launch from the dock near San Marco in Venice across the lagoon toward the Cipriani’s gardens on Giudecca Island. "I’ve been working here for seven years. The same guests return again and again and are like family."

Arriving at the Hotel Cipriani

Clearly the smiling sailor enjoys his job and his association with the hotel. He picks up guests from the dock near San Marco in Venice and takes them, along with their luggage, on a five-minute ride to the hotel’s pier. The motor boat feels somewhat like a water limousine, traveling back and forth all day. Guests stay in a quiet countryside setting with amenities like those offered at a great estate, yet the location is conveniently close to the heart of the city.

In crowded Venice most hotels are small, but the Cipriani has all the space it needs for its beautiful sprawling gardens, a vineyard, the main residence and two restored palazzos, the Vendramin and the Nani Barbaro. Not only is it the one hotel in the city with tennis courts and a swimming pool, but the pool is olympic-sized. And there’s room for several restaurants and bars. Cip’s Club at the Palazzetto, a lively restaurant-pizzeria and the newest of the hotel’s eateries, provides dining indoors, on a terrace and on a floating lagoon. Then there’s Il Gabbiano piano bar, the Poolside Bar, San Giorgio and the famed Ristorante Cipriani, a dramatic domed Venetian dining room.

Good service has many facets. At the Cipriani it means a courtly front desk staff exuding Continental charm while taking care of every request. It also means a private English butler who escorted me to my suite, the top floor of a duplex, and stayed long enough to make me comfortable. There are suites that rent for $1,600 a night at posh hotels all over the world, but maybe because I was at the Cipriani and the location was Venice, it seemed more heavenly than many others. This was truly a suite with a view, the sweep of San Marco and the Venetian skyline as painted by Tinteretto. And when I faced the other way so that my eyes swept my accommodations, all I could see was luxury—in the exquisite furnishings, the soft shades of yellow, the hand painted walls, the petit point rugs and the sleek kitchen. There was luxury in every detail—the multi-scented bath products, seemingly enough to stock a mini spa, and the coordinated desk sets. If I wanted to eat in, my butler might have prepared the pasta in the cupboard.

Venice and Guidecca Island

At dusk, I strolled the walkway stretching along Guidecca’s lagoon side. Wrought-iron turn-of-the-century style lamps add to the romantic feel of the path.

If you don’t spend the princely sum of $1,600, one-third of that amount will still net you a spectacular room, delightful surroundings, an American-style breakfast buffet and the dream of a lifetime, a stay at the Cipriani in Venice.

Hotel Cipriani, Guidecca, 773, 30133, Venice, Italy. Tel. 041-522-4844, 041-520-8337. Rates begin at $600. www.cipriani.com

Spring 2000