There's no better place to stay in Venice, Italy than the Hotel Cipriani, a nominee for a Readers' Choice Award for Best City Hotel.
A magical place set in lush, manicured gardens at the end of the Giudecca Island, the hotel is accessible by a short (four minute) boat ride from St. Mark's Square (30 minute boat trip from the Marco Polo Airport). The hotel's own private boat "Shirley", a beautiful wooden boat is available upon request to take you to magnificent islands in the lagoon including Murano, Burano and Torcello. As Venice is a city made up of more than 100 islands, there's no better way to explore it than by boat.
The history of the Hotel Cipriani dates back to 1956 when Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of the unique Venetian establishment Harry's Bar, decided to build a hotel within easy reach of St. Mark's Square and yet far enough away to ensure peace and privacy. A joint company was formed and an ideally located three-acre plot on the tip of the Giudecca Island, just five minutes by boat from St. Mark's Square, was purchased.
In 1958, the hotel opened its doors and enjoyed instant acclaim for its relaxed atmosphere, attentive service and simple, but superbly prepared food which have become its trademark. In 1968 some adjoining land was purchased and a magnificent Olympic-size 600 square meter swimming pool was built. This filtered salt-water pool is the largest in Venice, and is considered one of the finest in Europe to this day.
The Hotel Cipriani was sold in 1976 to Sea Containers, whose President and founder of Orient-Express, James B. Sherwood, was already a regular guest. Over the years more land and adjacent buildings were purchased to create space for new restaurants, guestrooms and facilities.
Today, the hotel's amenities includes a private red clay tennis court located amidst the beautiful Venetian garden of the hotel. The fitness center is outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment (including the revolutionary Proellixe Vibration machine) and overlooks flowered patios and gardens. Personal trainers are available upon request. Guests are given preferred entry to the only 18-hole course in Venice, which was created more than 70 years ago. Considered to be one of the most prestigious courses in Italy, the Circolo Golf Venezia club is located on the south part of Lido island in the Alberoni area.
Hotel Cipriani is known for pampering its guests in a very personalized way. Guests may receive Italian champagne, seasonal fruits or a personal guidebook of Venice as a gift. The hotel manager or another high-ranking member of the staff try to meet each guest at arrival, offering sweets and toys and a Kids' Club with English-speaking staff if traveling with children. The hotel is also known for customizing a guests visit, if they are aware of any needs or requests in advance. Fresh fruits are served to guests every afternoon by the pool and a beautiful private library is also available for guest use.
The hotels' newly (and partly) refurbished 82 luxuriously appointed rooms and suites have views over the open lagoon and the gardens. The hotel's Palazzo Vendramin, a 15th century palace linked to the hotel through an ancient courtyard, offers 16 suites and rooms (some with stunning views of St. Mark Square), in addition to a private butler service. Nightly room rates (including breakfast) start at 550 euros for a single room; doubles start at 900 euros while suites start at 2,420 euros.
Vote now for what you believe is the best of breed for each of the Winter Travel categories. Readers' Choice Awards for the Best in Winter Travel will be announced on January 31st.