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Hotel Cipriani

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Hotel Cipriani and garden

Above: The main entrance to the Hotel Cipriani overlooks a garden and (to the left of the photo) the channel between Giudecca and San Giorgio Maggiore.

A hotel hatched in Harry's Bar

The Hotel Cipriani was conceived in the late 1950s, at a time when postwar Italy was being celebrated in such films as Roman Holiday, Three Coins in the Fountain, and Summertime. This abridged version of hotel's official history describes how the Cipriani came about:

In 1956, Commendatore Giuseppe Cipriani, restaurateur extraordinaire and founder of the unique Venetian establishment "Harry's Bar," met with an enthusiastic audience amongst his customers for a project he had nurtured for many years. This was to build a hotel within easy reach of St. Mark's Square and yet far enough away to guarantee peace and privacy.

His audience included the three daughters of the second Earl of Iveagh (head of the Guinness family), namely Viscountess Boyd of Merton, Lady Honor Svedar and Lady Bridgit Ness, who were later to become his partners. Commendatore Cipriani already had the proposed site in mind.

Matters proceded rapidly. A joint company was formed and the ideally-situated 3-acre plot on the island of Giudecca, just three minutes by boat from St. Mark's Square, was purchased. Within two years the hotel opened its doors, and it is an amusing fact that the front garden of the façade was laid out on the morning of the opening day, one of the trees arriving only minutes before the first guest.

The hotel enjoyed instant acclaim and depicted a relaxed atmosphere concentrating on personal service and simple but superbly prepared food. During the first decade the popularity of the hotel extended to such a degree that in 1968 some adjoining land was purchased and a magnificent 600-meter swimming pool (the only one in Venice) was built.

The suites and bedrooms are simply but tastefully furnished, most of them overlooking the lagoon, and all are air-conditioned. The room service is one of the factors which have made the hotel world-famous. It is an interesting fact that each of the Guinness sisters designed a suite for use by themselves and their families, the suites still being referred to by the sisters' names: Lady Honor, Lady Patricia, and Lady Bridgit.

The Hotel Cipriani was purchased by Sea Containers in 1976 whose president, Mr. James B. Sherwood, was a regular visitor. In November, 1977, he appointed Dr. Natale Rusconi as Managing Director. (Note: Dr. Rusconi is still very much in charge of the Cipriani after more than 25 years at the helm.)

Next page: Rooms, suites


About the Hotel Cipriani:

Also see:
Where to Sleep in Venice