Palazzo Abadessa

Cannaregio, Venice, Italy Book from Eur130

A beautifully restored Baroque palace with a peaceful walled garden and private jetty
Step back into the 18th century. Surrounded by gorgeous antiques, paintings, damask walls and flexible floors, you'll feel like a temporary member 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. 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 loves her life as doyenne of an elegant palazzo hotel, welcoming cultured folk from all over the world.

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
  • The huge ground floor ballroom with tall windows to the jetty; and the equally grand 'piano nobile' (first floor)
  • The sumptuous bedrooms, with authentic 17th-century frescoes, lovely 18th-century furniture, silk-lined walls and massive Murano-glass chandeliers
  • Nothing is too much trouble for the staff
  • The large walled garden where you may enjoy breakfast

Lows

  • Breakfast is the only in-house meal, though they can order in for parties and conferences
  • The property focuses on its heritage, some may prefer to stay in slightly 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.

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...

Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 10 rooms + 5 suites
  • Breakfast (walk to restaurants)
  • 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

A horseshoe staircase sweeps you up to the tall-windowed piano nobile (literally 'noble floor'), where the suites and 1 of the Superior Rooms are situated. The Suite, where we were lucky enough to stay, had a balcony over the canal and a raised mezzanine with bathroom, chaise longue, cupboards and second double bedroom. Grand, high-ceilinged and spacious, these are stunning rooms and it's really worth splashing out on one if you can afford it. Most can sleep 3-4 people and some interconnect. Expect large ornate glass chandeliers, baroque bedsteads and prized pieces of painted furniture from Bassano. Even the floors are special: Venetian marquetry or flexible pavimento - a 'mosaic' made from shards of coloured stones set into elastic calce cement, designed to avoid cracking with tidal movement.

Situated in another part of the hotel, the Classic and the rest of the Superior Rooms are carved out of a mezzanine floor, whose low ceilings make them feel a bit cramped by comparison - we wouldn't really recommend them. Still, you do get 16th-century painted beams (low enough to examine in detail!), handmade silk-lined walls, and late 18th- and early 19th-century furniture. Two of the Standard Rooms are wheelchair accessible , a rarity in Venice.

All rooms have a safe, mini-bar fridge, WiFi, air-conditioning and a hairdryer. The one disappointment - even in the top rooms - was the ensuite bathrooms. Most are on the small side with shower only and, considering the room price, the toiletries are uninspiring.

Features include:

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

Eating

As the hotel doesn’t have a restaurant licence, 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, 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 ask for breakfast in bed or eat in the low-beamed dining room; but we took our piled-up plates out to the parasoled tables in the sunny garden every time. You can also sip Venetian champagne and cocktails in the garden or in your rooms, before being swept away in a water taxi from the palace's private jetty to dinner.

There’s a massive number of restaurants to choose from although, as everything in Venice has to be brought in from the outside, it is one of the priciest places to dine in Italy. If this all sounds like fun to you, splash out on a wildly expensive meal at the famous Hotel Cipriani or Harry’s Bar, where you can rub shoulders with the seriously rich and famous.

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
  • Back 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:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

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

Best for:

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

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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