Occupying a little Gothic palazzo right on the Grand Canal, the Ponte Antico has breathtaking views over the Rialto bridge. It’s on the north bank of the canal, in the Cannaregio district – a half-hour hike to St Mark’s through heavily touristed streets but surrounded by minor gems, excellent eateries and a marvellously lived-in area of the city.
If plush brocade and extravagant Louis XV-style antiques aren’t your thing, go elsewhere because they are used in great abundance in the seven good-sized bedrooms, lending a sumptuous boudoir air. The Grand Canal-facing rooms are, obviously, the ones to go for.
The gilt-panelled entrance with its reception desk padded in gold leatherette sets the tone for what is an extraordinary exercise in playful extravagance. The first floor bar/salon with its velveteen banquettes is delightful. I can't think of a more charming place for an aperitivo or night cap than the little terrace on the Grand Canal façade of this diminutive 16th-century palazzo with views over the Rialto bridge.
Eating and drinking
Breakfast will truly set you up for the day here, with hot and cold options in abundance: Matteo’s expertise with eggs is legendary. Drinks are served all day in the first-floor reception room, and out on the terrace with its Grand Canal panorama.
Perhaps this hotel’s most striking feature is the extraordinarily helpful hospitality of owner-manager Matteo Peruch and his staff. From the time you step off your water-taxi on to the Ponte Antico’s private Grand Canal entrance, or simply enter through the door off the street, you’ll be greeted by name and made to feel like a very special member of the family.
Who stays there
Al Ponte Antico has a dedicated following of predominantly British and American Venice-lovers who can’t get enough of the city and the warm welcome extended here. Return visitors are perfectly happy with the hotel’s slight distance from some major sites. Couples on romantic breaks are particularly numerous.
It seems worth splashing out here for a Grand Canal-facing room. Then again, Venice isn’t a place where you tend to spend much time in your room – there’s too much to see – and the great treatment by staff is extended to all guests, whichever room they’re in.
- High-Speed Internet
- Room Service
- Culture vultures
- Mature travellers
- Great views / scenery
Pros & Cons
- If you’re after a rather different take on Venetian baroque excesses and a truly warm welcome with endless helpful advice, then Al Ponte Antico will suit you just fine
- If you want anonymity, Matteo and his chatty staff may not be to your taste
- If you’re seeking simplicity, you won’t like the décor