I’m armed with a map and instructions on how to get here, yet I manage to take the route with the most obstacles. Lugging a large suitcase and a small carry-on, I am forced to ask other tourists and a few local workers to assist me in climbing over the walkways on my path. Once I finally reach the square, which is home to my destination, I find the archway leading into the property’s entrance. Short of breath and hot, I have never been more grateful to reach my destination. I’m earlier than expected, but that isn’t a problem and I’m on the receiving end of a very warm welcome which includes a familiarisation of the neighbourhood.
Once a 13th-century Venetian palace, Palazzo Volpi is located on Santi Giovanni e Paolo Square, which is home to the city’s Dominican church. It’s a handy 10-minute walk from the Ospedale vaporetto stop and about the same distance from San Marco Square and Rialto. There are cafes and restaurants right outside the front door – including Rosa Salva, the oldest Venetian bakery – and for those looking to cater for themselves (which you can do here), there’s a small supermarket about a 10-minute walk away.
I’m staying in a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor of this charming property. It has views of the nearby square and Basilica Santi Giovanni e Paolo. It has its own kitchenette and laundry facilities, along with a beautifully decorated living room and sizeable bedroom. The incredibly comfortable four-poster bed is worthy of mention for the mattress alone, while the accompanying en suite has its own wow factor. A sucker for a big bathtub, I am suitably impressed by the clawfoot tub taking pride of place in between the toilet and shower, and his and hers sinks. The suede pastel furnishings and the use of Italian marble, the mirror with inbuilt television (with Netflix access) and the rustic exposed ceiling panels are standout elements. The only negative for me is the slow lift from the ground floor, which I only really use to bring my luggage up anyway. Palazzo Volpi has three accommodation options to choose from, two one-bedroom apartments and a three-bedroom duplex. There is a two-bedroom apartment, but it is occupied at the moment and won’t be available to book until 2020.
The point of difference here is that you are not ushered into a reception or met by desk staff, in fact it’s far more personal than that. There is a doorbell downstairs and an intercom, which connects you directly to the couple behind the refurbishment of this grand old palace. I am greeted upon arrival by French owner/designer Anna Covre. Covre and her partner Frederic Tubau are living at the property and go out of their way to take me on a guided tour of the area to help me familiarise myself with my new surroundings. For the duration of my stay they feel more like friends than managers or booking agents, which is a nice touch. I see housekeeping staff sporadically, and each time they are friendly and discreet.
Peaceful and refined, and given the summer season is just beginning, the nearby square is filled with tourists and locals day and night. The vibe is cheerful and inviting. After 9.30pm, silence falls around Palazzo Volpi, which is welcome after a busy day and makes for an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
Palazzo Volpi is a self-catering concept, with each apartment kitted out with the most modern kitchen appliances, along with cutlery and pots and pans. As mentioned, there are plenty of cafes and authentic Italian restaurants near by to choose from and, if you are feeling particularly lazy, you can also order in food. Roza Salva is a great choice for breakfast, offering croissants for €4 (Dh17) and paninis from €3 (Dh13).
The one-hour private boat tour Anna and Frederic suggested I take on the canal. I was picked up outside my door and it was fabulous (€120 – Dh511 – for an hour). I’m also excited to hear that Anna and Fred have just started work on another historic Venetian property, and if Palazzo Volpi is anything to go by it will be just as inviting.
That I wasn’t able to stay longer than two nights, which means I don’t get time to read the many history books dotted around the apartment. And that I didn’t follow the instructions properly and take the less challenging path to my accommodation.
An upmarket choice for those travelling to Venice this summer. Spacious and quiet, yet in a great location.
The bottom line
Suites at Palazzo Volpi (www.palazzovolpi.com) start from €450 (Dh1,917) per night, including servicing and Wi-Fi.