Cima Rosa Venezia

Santa Croce, Venice, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Aoife O'Riordain
Chic B&B in a 15th-century palazzo, tucked away from the tourists yet overlooking the Grand Canal
Lie in bed and watch boats sliding up and down the Grand Canal then drink cappuccini in the tiny green courtyard; this place is a real retreat in Venice, hidden away in untouristy Santa Croce. It's run by native Venetian Daniele and his American wife Brittany, who honed their interior architecture and designer skills in the States before returning to his home city to open a B&B in 2011. Months were spent searching for the right property to renovate, until they came across this divine 15th-centruy palazzo and moved into the upper floors, gradually turning the ground and 1st floor into their romantic guesthouse. It is an intimate, stylish home that gives guests a real feeling of living like a local in this city of tourists.

The entrance hall is atmospherically lit by lanterns, and the 5 guest bedrooms are extremely elegant - Venice reimagined for a more style-savvy audience. Original details like mullioned windows, ancient beams and terrazzo and parquet floors are offset by misty lagoon greys and cool blues in the decoration; much of the furniture is antique, some original to the building and being carefully restored by the owners, piece by piece. An inspiring labour of love.

Highs

  • Off the beaten track but just 5 minutes from the Rialto, and near a vaporetto stop that's a 25-minute scenic chug from St Mark’s and links directly to the airport
  • Wonderful views of the Grand Canal from 3 bedrooms and the guest lounge; sit in the window and gaze
  • The owners are exceptionally welcoming and provide insider tips to the city and unusual activity ideas
  • A great breakfast (not a given in this city), plus a kitchen for guests to make snacks and store drinks
  • A locals' neighbourhood with authentic restaurants, bakeries and gelaterie

Lows

  • The rooms overlooking the canal can be noisy
  • Only breakfast is served but that's no hardship in this area
  • The Charming Rooms have no real view and are a little dark, but their price reflects this

Best time to go

Autumn and spring are the best times to visit Venice. Carnival is at the end of January/early February; an amazing experience but the crowds can be overwhelming. High summer brings even more crowds and sweltering temperatures unless you opt for a day at the beach on the Lido.

Our top tips

Don't follow your map too slavishly - part of the beauty of Venice is getting lost in its cobweb of streets and seeing where you end up.

Great for...

City Style
Family
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 5
  • Breakfast only (restaurants nearby)
  • 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
Room:

Rooms

There are just 5 rooms. The décor in all is restrained with a real sense of place, yet refreshingly without an overwhelming dose of Venetian maximalism. Original parquet floors and exposed beams are elegantly married with misty lagoon greys and cool blues, producing calm, restful spaces.

The Moro Suite, Signora Suite and Il Nobile have views over the Grand Canal, while the 2 Charming Rooms are tucked up a steep flight of stairs in a newly renovated wing of the palazzo. In our opinion, it's definitely worth paying extra for the canal-view rooms, which also have sitting areas, unless you just want total peace, which the darker Charming Rooms offer. Note that Il Nobile's bathroom is private but not ensuite.

All rooms have air-con and dreamily comfortable beds clad in the finest snowy-white Italian linen.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is served in the dining-cum-living room at a long table, or on small tables by the window if you want to be more private. It is a simple yet nicely presented affair with good coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice, plates of ham and cheese, fresh fruit salad, yoghurt and pastries. Our only gripe was the background jazz, which seemed to be on a loop throughout the day.

For other meals you'll need to head out, but Daniele and Brittany have compiled an 'Eat like a Venetian' list of their favourite nearby haunts, helpfully printed onto a map of the labyrinthine streets. Santa Croce is one of the only neighbourhoods in the city that's still home to mainly Venetian families, so there are some exceptional local restaurants.

Back at the B&B, there's a bowl of fruit as well as biscuits, plus tea and coffee making facilities for guests' use throughout the day.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Guest kitchen for snacks
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The Rialto is a short walk away for the colourful market with antique masks and fantastic cicheti (Italian light bites), and the famous bridge of the same name
  • Hop on a vaporetto and chug to St Mark's Square with its dazzling Basilica San Marco, corresponding tower and historic Palazzo Ducale
  • To really get under the skin of this bewitching city, Daniele and Brittany can arrange super activities: a tour of Venice's private gardens, bespoke trips on a classic Venetian wooden boat, an itinerary around local artisan workshops, even rowing lessons on the canal!
  • Palazzo Moncenigo is close to Cima Rosa, and well worth a visit to get a flavour of 18th-century Venetian life
  • Art lovers will like the nearby Scuola Grande di San Rocco with its masterpieces by the painter Tintoretto, and Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, one of the city's most impressive churches

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Art classes
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Families are very welcome - the owners have young children themselves. The kitchen is a godsend for snacks and sharing takeaways. There is plenty nearby to keep young visitors amused - water buses are a novelty and one of Venice's best ice cream shops, Alaska, is around the corner.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

There are no specific family rooms but the Moro Suite can sleep up to 4 in a kingsize bed and a double sofabed, and the Signora Suite can fit a rollaway single bed. The 2 Charming Rooms are next door to each other, with a kingsize double in one room and 2 singles plus space for a rollaway single bed in the other. The Moro Suite is the only room with a bathtub.

Babysitting:

Excellent trained babysitters available on request who show up with a bag full of activities

Baby equipment:

Baby cot

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

Children's meals:

In addition to the normal breakfast array, kids are offered hot chocolate and Italian biscuits. The guest kitchen is available for families to eat a take away in or to prepare a simple snack meal. Note that you are expected to clear away and clean up after using the kitchen. There are nice family-friendly restaurants nearby such as La Zucca, Muro Pizza and Il Refolo

Kids Activities nearby:

  • The very popular local square, Campo San Giacomo, is less than 3 minutes away and is considered the best plaza for children in Venice; here they congregate every afternoon to play year round while the parents chat and catch up over a spritzer
  • Water taxis
  • Natural History Museum is round the corner
  • Gelateria round the corner

Distances:

  • Airport: 25 minutes by water taxi
  • Hospital: 20 minutes
  • Shops: 3 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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