On a quiet sidestreet in the northern Cannaregio district of town, Palazzo Abadessa is a short walk from the Ca’ d’Oro vaporetto stop but a good half-hour’s hike from St Mark’s. Cannaregio is packed with sights and great eateries, however, and I much prefer the calm of this area to the bustle of the city’s heart. A private water entrance means that you can be delivered to the hotel directly by water taxi.
The 13 rooms and suites range from a little dark and cramped on the mezzanine floor to positively palatial upstairs. Each has its own rich colour palette; all boast splendid antiques and many have beautifully frescoed and stuccoed ceilings too. Suites can be linked together to form accommodation for large families or groups. (Maria Luisa tells me she is currently working on an annexe where family suites will have self-catering facilities, but that won’t be ready for some time yet.)
The reception room on the upstairs piano nobile floor is truly magnificent, with its school-of-Tintoretto paintings and lovely stucco work. But the garden is the public space here that really does it for me. Maria Luisa’s plans for the future include adding a little kitchen where guests can whip themselves up snacks to take out to the tables hidden among the greenery. Until it’s ready, enjoy breakfast out here, weather permitting.
Eating and drinking
Breakfast is served either in the garden or in the pretty breakfast room. There is no restaurant.
You’ll be made to feel like one of the family here immediately. Some guests find this very personal touch slightly eccentric. Others can’t get enough of it.
Who stays there
Americans and northern Europeans on cultural pilgrimages make up the bulk of the Palazzo Abadessa’s clientele. A reassuringly large percentage of them are return visitors to the city and the hotel.
- High-Speed Internet
- Culture vultures
- Mature travellers
- Seasoned travellers
Pros & Cons
- Being made to feel like a guest in a friend’s beautiful Venetian palazzo is a rare privilege
- The very hands-on service can make some uncomfortable
- Not at the centre of the city