Ca' Pisani

Dorsoduro, Venice, Italy Book from Eur135

Admirable Art Deco design in a medieval palazzo right next to the Accademia
Venice is a city in a time warp - no cars, no supermarkets, no modern flash. That’s part of its incredible charm. But many of its hotels are also stuck in a time warp - tired décor, medieval plumbing, poor insulation.

One hotel which stands out is Ca Pisani. It’s got the usual medieval Venetian façade with marble-framed windows and elegant loggias, but inside it’s been refitted in dazzling designer style. We’re talking sleek glass surfaces, bamboo-parquet floors, steel stairs, walnut bedframes, optic-fibre spotlights, Mies van der Rohe chairs. Most pieces are from the 1930’s and 40’s, others are specially commissioned for the hotel, including the gadget-laden bathrooms and the remotely operated, double-glazed windows. It may sound OTT but it’s very easy on the eye (and the body) after an exhausting day of sightseeing or shopping. And in the ground floor restaurant you can fill up with tasty cheese and wine. A contemporary haven in a sea of history.

Highs

  • Great location next to the Accademia Gallery and corresponding vaporetto stop (3 mins from the Zattere quays, 15 mins from San Marco)
  • Extremely well-appointed: air-conditioning, soundproofing, satellite TV, roof terrace etc
  • When we revisited in 2013, we were thrilled with the luxurious bathrooms - bathtubs are a rare treat in Venice, so the huge Jacuzzi tub went down a storm
  • On-site wine and cheese bar, with space for outdoor dining
  • Reasonably-sized rooms with sitting area

Lows

  • Not for the technophobe - some will find the lighting, air-conditioning and curtains more hassle than they're worth
  • No canal views - though that can be a blessing
  • Service lacked warmth and attentiveness at times, but was pleasant over all
  • It’s expensive (even by Venetian standards), and rates often climb considerably on weekends

Best time to go

May, June, September and October are the busiest in Venice; July and August are very hot and humid, and full of day-trippers. March and early April are perhaps the best times to go, with cool clear weather. November - mid February (excluding New Year) are very quiet, with no queues and easily-bookable restaurants. In early November you can still enjoy blue skies and al fresco lunches; after that, expect some cold and clouds. If you plan to visit during peak seasons, be sure to book well in advance.

Our top tips

Venice is great for shopping - the streets leading to St Mark's Square are lined with exclusive designer stores, the Dorsoduro area is full of independent galleries, and San Polo has the Rialto market as well as great artisan masks and furnishings

Great for...

City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Design Hotel
  • 29
  • Restaurant and bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

This is where Ca Pisani really comes into its own. Slide your fish-shaped wooden ‘key’ in front of your hieroglyphic door number, and the inlay-patterned door will buzz open to reveal a calm study of cream, beige and brown. The floors are mostly polished wood (parquet / bamboo), apart from a few examples of Venetian terrazzo (mosaic-effect stone), with tiger-striped bedside rugs. Translucent blinds reveal double-glazed windows which open 2 ways - or not at all, if you prefer air-conditioning. There’s not much of a view, except from the third floor rooms.

Beds are curved Deco pieces in dark, smooth walnut wood, with pillows atop linen sheets. You’ll find switches for lights, curtains, blinds and radio dotted about the place (although take the time figure out how they work before drifting off to sleep).

There’s also a sitting area dominated by a silver-leafed cabinet, which cleverly conceals a TV, minibar, safe, writing shelf and a light (that turns off automatically when you slide the shelf in). The steel and leather chair is a delightfully simple Mies van der Rohe design, while alongside are 1 or 2 large orange armchairs.

Pride of place goes to the bathrooms which have enough gadgets to feature in an episode of Star Trek. Ours had no less than 9 buttons and 12 levers scattered around the room. Deco Superiors and above have shower cubicle with a huge overhead sprinkler, 4 lateral jets and a hand-held shower, as well as a separate Jacuzzi tub alongside. Where they’re not mirrored, the walls sparkle with a rather glitzy marble-glass-resin mixture, shaded purple or white, and specially commissioned. It’s just a pity that they still couldn’t manage to check whether the toiletries had been removed by the previous guests.

Junior Suites have large sitting areas separated by a sliding door (in walnut, of course), while Duplex Rooms have a sitting room and bathroom downstairs, and fan-shaped glass-and-steel stairs winding up to a sleeping platform. Deco Deluxe Rooms also have plenty of space, and often more character. There are good-sized Deco Superior Rooms and Family Rooms, while the rest are classified as Deco Standard Rooms: meaning a smaller space and a shower or bathtub, rather than both.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

On the ground floor, and spilling onto the pedestrian street outside, you’ll find La Rivista. It calls itself a wine and cheese bar; in reality it’s more of a restaurant, as well as the venue for a buffet breakfast which, by Italian standards, is ample. Design-wise, this is probably the weakest element of Ca Pisani. Instead of the sleek look seen elsewhere, the eatery is filled with a starker selection of canteen style tables and canary yellow seating which jars with the Art Deco wood panelling and vintage bar.

That said we suspect that a summer time meal outdoors would be a wonderfully relaxing way to watch the Venetian world go by. Cheeses, cold cuts and pasta dishes make up the majority of the menu, and there’s a comprehensive wine list, too. By Venetian standards, a dinner here is reasonably priced.

If you prefer to dine out - and you should on at least one evening, for the flair and finesse of some Venetian restaurants - then the several good restaurants can be found around the Accademia. For a taste of iconic Venice, head to the Piazza San Marco to dine outdoors at Caffé Florian (Italy's oldest café), or visit the famous (and outrageously expensive) Harry’s Bar for world-class Bellinis and Carpaccio.

As for breakfast, the buffet is pretty good: various cereals, yoghurts, fresh and tinned fruit, pastries and toast, scrambled eggs and bacon on the hotplate, and tea, coffee, hot chocolate from a machine or brought to your table. In summer there are parasol-shaded tables on the street. Or you can be decadent and have a tray brought to your room for a charge.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Step outside your hotel and into the famous Accademia art gallery: a former convent, it now holds a world-class collection of pre-19th century art
  • A little further into Dorsoduro you’ll find Peggy Guggenheim’s famous modern art collection displayed in her impressive home overlooking the Grand Canal. Works on display include those by Pollock, Picasso and Peggy’s ex-husband, Max Ernst
  • At the very tip of Dorsoduro, where the Grand Canal meets open water, sits Punta della Dogana. This previously abandoned warehouse now hosts the contemporary art collection of billionaire Francois Pinault, after it controversially pipped Paris to the post in 2005
  • Don't miss the Palazzo Ducale in the square of San Marco; the little church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, 'a jewel box of ancient marbles'; or the Palazzo Grimani, built by a Venetian doge in the 1520s
  • Book tickets for an evening concert or opera; Vivaldi recitals by acclaimed violin troop Interpreti Veneziani are regularly held in the Chiesa di San Vidal, where Renaissance masterpieces adorn the church’s walls
  • Take to the water! The vaporetti (waterbuses) are a cost-effective and practical way to see the city, while the gondolas offer a quintessential (if pricey) Venetian experience. For something in between, hop on one of the traghetto, which commuters use to cross the Grand Canal
  • Take a waterbus to the nearby islands of San Michele (a huge cemetery park), Murano (glass-blowing), Burano (fishing, lace-making and gaily-colored houses) or Torcello (7th to 13th century architecture and a tiny resident population)
  • Explore the labyrinth of narrow alleys and little hump-backed bridges - getting lost is all part of the fun here

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

Children are welcome and babysitting can be arranged upon request.

Family friendly accommodation:

There are a couple of Family Rooms which sleep 3 people, and many rooms interconnect.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots and high chairs are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

La Rivista can prepare child-friendly options.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
8/
Value
9/
Overall

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