The story begins in 1956 when Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of the iconic Harry’s Bar, decided to build a Venetian retreat for his jet-setting, celebrity friends. Somewhere appropriate for them to sip a Bellini, one would imagine. He picked Giudecca island; only 5 minutes by boat from Piazza San Marco and the perfect spot for a secluded, luxurious resort away from the bustle of Venice.
The hotel opened in 1958 and was instantly popular with its glamorous guests, including Yves Saint Laurent, Sophia Loren and Frank Sinatra. More recently, George & Amal Clooney, who hosted their wedding here, have added some signature creations to the hotel’s fabulous cocktail repertoire along with their good friend; Head bartender, Walter Bolzonella, who has been there since 1979.
“With all these important people, everywhere they go on the street they are stopped. And when they arrive at Belmond Hotel Cipriani, they find the privacy. They feel treated like a normal guest. A normal guest means treated good, treated with love. And this is very nice,” says Bolzonella.
It’s not hard to see why so many fall in love with this hotel; opulent suites furnished with Italian antiques, rich fabrics and sparkling Murano chandeliers. Each room with striking views of the shimmering blue lagoon, the theatrical city backdrop or enchanting gardens. Cruise into the private dock at the Palladio Suite; the showpiece of the hotel, with 180-degree lagoon views and its own gorgeous garden and pool.
Giuseppe Cipriani is also responsible for creating the largest outdoor swimming pool in Venice. Legend has it he was describing it in feet but the architect was planning it in metres, which has resulted in the Olympic sized pool guests enjoy today.
The sensational waterside dining at Cip’s Club is the perfect place to lose yourself in the magic of Venice. Then there is Oro, the magnificent Michelin-starred restaurant overlooking the romantic Casanova gardens, where by day you might also stumble upon Roberta, the hotel’s resident tortoise.
What sets this hotel apart is its spontaneity, or as Walter says, “it’s about knowing what kind of drink your guests want before they do.” Rather than being about a stiff and formal feeling, the hotel service exudes informal luxury. The type that is empathic and brings out the personality of its staff.
Sixty-four years on and the Cipriani still epitomizes old fashioned glamour and luxury. The timeless elegance and personable service are what make it one of the leading luxury hotels in the world and also one of the most expensive hotels in Italy… and it is totally worth every penny!