Palazzo Abadessa

Cannaregio, Venice, Italy Book from

A beautifully restored Baroque palace with a peaceful walled garden and private jetty
Step back in time. Surrounded by gorgeous antiques, paintings, superb authentic ceilings, damask walls and marquetry floors, you'll feel like an honoured guest of a historic Venetian family as you're warmly welcomed by the palazzo's charming staff.

Tucked away down the snug Calle Priuli alleyway, in the bohemian Cannaregio quarter, fronted by a secret walled garden, this was the private mansion of the Priuli family of Doges, and dates to the late 16th-century. The Rossis bought it in 1975 as their home and, after a quarter century of loving restoration - seeking out the perfect period detail, the finest pieces of furniture - opened it as an intimate hotel. Marisa (as she is known) grew up in a Palladian villa "surrounded by beautiful history", then ran several factories in Vicenza, inviting clients to the Abadessa (the 'Mother Superior') for weekend breaks. Now she, and her son Simone, love welcoming cultured folk from all over the world to stay in their elegant palazzo hotel.

Highs

  • The location: beside a quiet canal, with the option of coming and going by private water taxi from the palace’s own red-carpeted jetty, only a 15-minute walk from the airport waterbus, and 3 minutes to the Ca'D'Oro vaporetto stop
  • The huge ground floor ballroom with tall stained glass windows to the jetty; and the equally grand 'piano nobile' above, connected by a unique horseshoe staircase
  • The sumptuous bedrooms, with authentic 17th-century frescoes, 18th-century furniture, silk-lined walls and massive Murano-glass chandeliers
  • Nothing is too much trouble for the staff, as we reaffirmed on our 2016 revisit
  • The large walled garden where you can enjoy breakfast

Lows

  • Breakfast is the only in-house meal, though they can order in for parties and conferences
  • The property focuses squarely on its heritage, some will prefer more contemporary surroundings
  • Some of the rooms are small and low-ceilinged
  • Only a few of the rooms have bathtubs, though all have ensuite showers

Best time to go

Venice is an all year round destination, most prefer the spring and autumn seasons when the weather is at its most balmy. Availability is best in the winter. Note that Palazzo Abadessa is usually closed most of January for maintenance

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
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10 rooms + 5 suites
  • Breakfast (walk to restaurants)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 6 Jan 2017 - 2 Feb 2017
  • 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: Classic 11

Rooms

A horseshoe staircase sweeps up to the tall-windowed piano nobile (literally 'noble floor'), here the Suites and one Superior Room are located. The grandest Suite, where we stayed on our original visit, has a balcony over the canal and raised mezzanine with bathroom, chaise longue and second double bedroom. OneJunior Suite has a superb painted ceiling. Expect large ornate glass chandeliers, high ceilings, baroque bedsteads and prized painted furniture from Bassano. The floors are special Venetian marquetry or flexible pavimento - a 'mosaic' of coloured stones set into elastic calce cement, to avoid cracking from tidal movement.

Classic and other Superior Rooms are carved out of a mezzanine floor, low ceilings make them feel a bit cramped. We stayed here on our 2016 revisit, and loved the original 16th-century beams, and handmade silk-lined walls.

Ensuite bathrooms have been upgraded, though note most are small with shower only; you get own brand toiletries. Almost all rooms can be reconfigured as twins on request; all have safes, satellite TV and mini-bar fridges.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • WiFi

Eating

As the hotel doesn’t have a restaurant, the only meal served is breakfast though it is one fit for a Doge. A feast of cereals, yogurts and fresh fruits, cheeses, parma and other hams, cake, croissants, rolls, pastries, toast and jams… the table was groaning and I returned for at least 5 glasses of their delicious blood-orange juice. You can have breakfast in bed or eat in the atrium ballroom (a range of daily newspapers are supplied); in warm weather most prefer the parasoled tables in the sunny garden.

After a hard day’s sightseeing, reconvene for daily afternoon tea (4-6pm). In the evening sip Prosecco (a gift for having booked through i-escape) and cocktails either in your room or downstairs (there’s an impressive range of drinks laid out in the ballroom and cocktails are offered 7-8pm Saturdays), before being swept away in a water taxi from the palace's private jetty to dinner.

Ask the concierge for restaurant recommendations, note that as everything in Venice has to be shipped in, it is one of the priciest places to dine in Italy.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Visit some of the countless churches and museums showcasing Venetian architecture, art and history, including the world-famous Palazzo Ducale, Basilica, Gothic seat of Venetian power, and extraordinary little church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, 'a jewel box of ancient marbles'
  • Wonder at all the Canalettos, Titians, Tintorettos and other paintings gathered under one roof in the Galleria dell’Academia in Dorsoduro
  • Take a lazy gondola ride through the labyrinth of canals or join others on a communal sunset tour complete with singers and instruments
  • Visit 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, Byzantine mosaics and a tiny resident population)
  • Or just explore the labyrinth of narrow alleys and little hump-backed bridges - getting lost is all part of the fun here
  • At the palazzo, sit in the beautiful, flower-filled garden sipping cappuccinos or cocktails and watching the shadows deepen

Activities on site or nearby include:

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

Kids

Well behaved kids are welcome and extra beds, cots and babysitting can be arranged. Children under 5 stay for free. That said, the place is full of valuable furniture and ornaments, they prefer to keep it fairly quiet and civilised and not to have too many children staying at any one time.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

The impressive Suites and Superior Room found off the piano nobile can sleep 3-4 people and some interconnect

Families Should Know:

There's a canal to the rear of the property

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour
  • Shops: 1 minute
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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