30 Jan My Best Venice Yet
Misty mornings. Crisp, blue winter skies. Uncrowded streets and empty squares. Warm, inviting lights twinkling from the windows of tiny trattorias in darkened alleyways. And best of all, my very own front door key to the chicest of apartment retreats concealed within the private courtyard of a picture-perfect, 16th-century palazzo.
I’m living the dream in one of the world’s most magical destinations… and I’m doing it my way. The freedom to come and go as I please without the interference of well-meaning staff at every turn. The feeling of ‘coming home’ and putting my feet up with a glass of wine, some cheese and a Netflix movie after a long day exploring the city on foot. Dressing for dinner? I don’t even fancy dinner tonight. It was all about the lunch; the fresh Alba truffle pasta overlooking the canal at the Aman’s exquisite waterside restaurant.
That’s the joy of having your own (albeit extraordinarily luxurious) space in a city like Venice, you can choose how you eat, where you eat and at what time of day. You’re at liberty to make your days – and nights – as long or as short as you wish, without having to consider the choices and habits of other guests. You can be completely inconspicuous and disappear into your own private world when you’re ready to escape the throng. Oh, and breakfast is delivered to your door from the neighbouring – and Venice’s oldest – bakery. It just is the best of both worlds.
The brainchild of celebrated designers, Anna Covre and Frederic Tubau, Palazzo Cristo combines the historical riches of Venice’s exquisite architecture with cutting edge interior design and state-of-the-art technology. And what a great match it is. Three heavenly suite-style apartments are testament to the old adage that the devil is in the detail, from the Smeg kitchen appliances to the silky smooth Frette bed linen; the finest Italian marble flooring to the digital television hidden within the exquisite classical mirror. No carefully chosen and perfectly placed stone has been left unturned in these sublime dwellings that provide a showcase to the awesome aesthetic talents of their creators, Anna and Fred.
The largest of the apartments (Suite I) is a super spacious 160 square metre three- bedroomed suite on two levels. It boasts a stylishly-equipped kitchen, sizeable living room and, most wonderfully for Venice, its own private, walled courtyard garden for lunch or Aperol Spritz al fresco. If I could design my dream apartment, this would probably be it.
The other two suites both offer one bedroom, but the 90 square metre Suite III is more spacious with its own separate kitchen and freestanding bath. The smallest of the three, Suite II at 45 square metres, whilst just as luxuriously appointed, cleverly hides a compact but fully-equipped kitchen in the main lounge living area. It has the feeling of staying in a large, exceptionally-appointed hotel suite but without any taps on the door just as you’ve stepped out of the shower!
Location-wise, Palazzo Cristo also gets it so right. Situated in the upmarket residential area of Castello, the property is just three minutes’ walk from where our private water taxi (there really is no other way to arrive in Venice) dropped us outside an impressive church on the beautiful Giovanni e Paulo square. No tourist hoards and seas of selfie sticks here; this a local square for local people who go about their normal daily routines as they have done for centuries. If you like your noise au natural; church bells, the animated chatter of neighbours in the next door bakery, children playing after school, this is the Venice for you. And the best bit is that you are only a 10-minute walk through some of the city’s most charming and authentic streets to St. Mark’s Square and all of Venice’s iconic, must-see attractions.
Being given the keys to your own perfect home in a place like Venice is like being given the keys to the city itself. For a short time I completely indulged in the fantasy of living in this remarkable city, going about my business like any other Venetian and hanging out in my favourite local haunts. I didn’t want to leave Palazzo Cristo and I cannot wait to go back, if home is where the heart is, I’m completely torn.