Is it possible to live up to guests' expectations when a room costs £900 a night and your name is synonymous with the very finest in hospitality?
The answer, in the case of the Cipriani, is not only live up to, but in many respects exceed, expectations.
Relatively small – it has 79 rooms and suites – low-key and on an island in the Venice Lagoon, a six-minute trip by shuttle boat from St Mark's Square, the hotel works very hard to be a very grand, but a very comfortable home-from-home for guests who have luxury hardwired into their DNA.
Guest rooms, overlooking tranquil gardens and blue water, are beyond sumptuous. Vast, serene spaces, they are equipped with even vaster beds, sofas, antique desks, Louis chairs, walnut break-front cabinets and Orient-Express trademark TVs (they pop up from tables at the foot of the beds). They lead into dressing rooms and on to huge bathrooms with walk-in showers, large tubs, two sinks and separate loos, plus fluffy towels, robes and slippers, and big bottles of Penhaligon. But there are no full-length mirrors and unlike sister hotel, Le Manoir, no dimmer switches in the overlit bathrooms.
The pool of filtered seawater is flanked by white loungers and umbrellas, and the Fortuny Terrace, overlooking the water may be the prettiest and most romantic spot on the planet for lunch or dinner. And considering the location and the cost of refreshment in Venice, prices are barely terrifying: pizza is 19¤, and a smoked salmon sandwich is 24¤ - both big enough to share. By comparison, mint tea is 10¤. Breakfast is buffet-style, with everything you might want, including Prosecco, and hot dishes to order. Staff are charming and unimpeachably efficient – this is, after all, Italy.
RATE: from 1,023E (£909) per night
TEL: 0845 077 2222