Where To Stay For La Biennale di Venezia: Ca’ Di Dio, Venice – Hotel Review
For many, one of the attractions of Italy‘s Venice is that it seems so unchanging. But, in fact, the city changes all the time – though you might not notice it. A vaporetto route might be altered, a hotel refurbished, or a restaurant come under new management. Sometimes, there are even new museums – such as, only this year, the Procurate Vecchie in St Mark’s Square. And, very occasionally, a new hotel opens. Such is the nature of Venice, though, that anything new is inevitably housed in something old. Anwer Bati checks in to Ca’ di Dio, Venice.
Ca’ di Dio, Venice – Hotel Review
On a quiet stretch of the otherwise bustling Riva degli Schiavoni, the luxury Ca’ di Dio opened in 2021. It’s housed in an imposing, rather austere looking three-storey building dating back to the 13th century – a former monastery and hostel for mediaeval pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem. (Hence the name, meaning ‘House of God’.) More recently, it was a nursing home, before being uninhabited for 18 years. It is now, once more, welcoming guests, having been beautifully converted over two years by Spanish architect Patricia Urquiola to provide 66 rooms, a huge proportion of them (no fewer than 57) spacious suites. (The two rooftop suites are the most spectacular, with their wooden terraces offering superb panoramic views.)
Only the few rooms at the front of the hotel benefit from the fine view of the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and its magnificent Palladian church. But others have a view of a side canal, or the peaceful courtyard garden (the hotel also has two others, including a herb garden).
Although the corridors at Ca’ di Dio are rather clinical looking, much of the hotel has the feeling of a private home. You’re quite likely to be checked-in by laptop on a sofa in the comfortable reception area – once a chapel, dominated by a 14,000 piece chandelier resembling waves. The library is a place you might actually be tempted to linger a while with a book, rather than just for show.
The light, modern rooms have the feel of a swish apartment (many with small kitchens with a Lavazza espresso machine and kettle), subtly decorated with plenty of dark wood, but with bright touches such as the green fabric wall coverings and curtains and the plain, pastel coloured sofas. The floors are stone, and the feeling throughout is of calm, an escape from the teeming city outside. The glass in the rooms and public areas is from Murano, and many of the other items in them are sourced and made locally. The spacious bathrooms in red Verona marble (with their powerful showers) have double basins.
Throughout, the hotel is environmentally conscious, with filtered tap water served and air conditioning cleverly recycling lagoon water.
Breakfast is a pleasantly casual affair, served by laid-back staff in the courtyard restaurant, Essentia – inside or outside. Essentia is also open for all-day dining, but Ca’ di Dio’s main restaurant is Vero, with a cosy interior and tables outside by the lagoon. Chef Raimondo Squeo offers a seasonal menu of locally sourced ingredients (even the flour for the bread comes from the Veneto), with contemporary takes on Venetian cuisine, such as beef carpaccio with spider crab and chicory, and squid ink taglierini with shrimp ragu and cauliflower cream and vanilla.
Ca’ di Dio is in the quiet Castello district of Venice, one of the least touristy (which means restaurants nearby are actually used by locals). On the other hand, it is very well-placed for the main sites of the art Biennale, just by the Arsenale and Giardini (the city’s main gardens where the Biennale is based). It’s a ten minute walk to the bustling St Mark’s Square, and it is also easy to get to the Lido, and well served by water buses.
THE FINAL WORD
As it’s not in a former palazzo, Ca’ di Dio is rather different from Venice’s other luxury hotels, both in ambience and architecture – modern and more relaxed, where the look of things matters. It’s the perfect place to stay for the Biennale.
Double rooms from £400 B&B. vretreats.com
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