La Grande Belleza
Impossibly glamorous and beguilingly charming, it’s no surprise why George Clooney makes the Belmond Cipriani his base in Venice whenever he comes to this most romantic of Italian cities. Clooney, who started coming to The Cip (as known by regulars) since the annual Venice Film Festival, addresses the staff by name, mixes cocktails behind the hotel’s famous Il Gabbiano bar and spent his wedding night with Amal in its grandest suite (£6,500/RM34,550 per night) during their star-studded wedding four years ago. But while it’s not often hotels usher in their 60th birthday with a personal video greeting from the Clooneys, The Cip has been hosting the international rich and famous since it was founded by Bellini cocktail inventor Giuseppe Cipriani in 1958.
From Yves Saint Laurent and Hubert de Givenchy to Vanessa Redgrave, Sophia Loren and Catherine Deneuve, the crème de la crème have long been drawn to the hotel’s relaxing, private atmosphere, outstanding service and gorgeous rooms decorated with Murano glass and Fortuny fabrics. The experience begins on a short cruise across the lagoon to St Mark’s Square to Giudecca island where the hotel is set in a 15th-century palazzo complete with a ridiculously photogenic pool – the only Olympic-sized saltwater swimming pool in Venice.
After Giuseppe Cipriani retired, the Belmond group acquired this legendary hotel in 1976 and continued the famous bon vivant’s legacy of impeccable service and spectacular parties. Additions like the magnificent Palazzo Vendramin, Cip’s Club, the Granaries of the Republic and Adam Tihany designed Michelin starred restaurant called Oro ensured the Belmond Cipriani continues to stay on the very top of its game even as it celebrates its sixth decade.
To mark this momentous occasion, a very special program of events celebrating the hotel’s la dolce vita will be available. Guests may discover the Venetian lagoon aboard the Edipo Re, a vintage 1960s sailboat once owned by the famous director Pier Paolo where the love story between Pasolini and opera diva Maria Callas began. The excursion includes visiting a seventh-century cathedral on Torcello island and meeting one of Venice’s last fishermen catching Moeche, the city’s own soft shell crab.
Early risers may choose to have an unforgettable meal on top of Scalinata Contarini del Bovolo, which features the tallest spiral staircase in Venice in an architectural masterpiece built around 1400. As dawn breaks over Venice, breakfast is served and guests will be able to savour the pastries, espresso and the sunrise while watching the city wake up beneath them. Whether its breakfast among the clouds or languid lagoon sojourns, the Belmond Cipriani has perfected the art of indulgent discovery.