Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review



A splendid example of a grand canal-side palace dating back to the 15th century

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Sits between Ca'D'Oro and Rialto Bridge

Travel Information

Venice Marco Polo Airport - 30 mins by private water taxi

Top Tips

Visit Venice either side of high season (July and August) to enjoy it without the crowds, and stifling heat

5-Star X-Factors

The incredible works of art


Where angels tread no fear
Living with legends


Where angels tread no fear
Living with legends

Where angels tread no fear

Ca' Sagredo is a splendid example of a classical Venetian canal-side palace dating back to the 15th century. The Family Sagredo were avid art collectors with a destiny bound for the Doge; consequently the palazzo is akin to an informal museum housing prodigious works by renowned and influential artists from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Your eyes are not only drawn to the magnificently restored frescoes, cameos and paintings, but also to the immaculately restored building itself. This houses a glorious sweeping staircase, flanked by marble cherubs, leading to the grand communal rooms, music ballroom, Sala del Tiepolo, Sala di Apollo and then...the views.

The grand structures, along with the art treasures, create a magically authentic backdrop to the 18th Century, whilst the modest interpretation of the 21st century fitted in with exceptional style and uncomplicated modernity. The contemporary palette of creams, beige and honey washes the interior with a subtle sophistication allowing the extraordinarily vibrant past to stand out with magnificent allure.

So, aware that icons like Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Pietro Longhi, among many others, have graced the walls and ceilings with their enchanting allegories and admirable talent, you then have to pinch yourself as you open your shutters and realise that your good fortune seems to stretch eternal. This is Venice as you want it: looking out onto real, everyday life, unaltered for decades, seemingly unscathed by a tourist invasion, with the Rialto Market across the water and an effusive gondola park below.

The blushed-clay-hued palazzo is still conveniently located for the sight-seeing that most of us enjoy, for part of the day; the Rialto Bridge is only a ten-minute walk and St Mark's Square not much more, provided you don't get lost or distracted. The exquisite Ca'd'Oro, or 'House of Gold' is right next door: one of the finest examples of the late Gothic period, built in 1421, housing an incredible art/sculpture collection.

Fortunately, there is also one of the few Venetian funded, almost free, gondola 'taxis' right next to the hotel – perfect for hopping across to the colourful Rialto Market where fishmongers and farmers have been trading since the 14th century, now featuring a neo-Gothic market hall built in 1907, designed by the painter, Cesare Laurenti. The shopping around here is outstanding for both quality and value, while the staggering Peggy Guggenheim Museum is an enjoyable 30-minute stroll away.

Exhilarating arrival

On my first visit, I took my sister as companion to view and review this canal-side jewel. Arriving speedboat-side (the groovy water taxis driven by insufferably handsome men), after an exhilarating ride into a sun-drenched and positively glistening Venice, is an uplifting start for anyone. The impact of Ca' Sagredo's charm is instantaneous: we had the sort of room that creates an uncontrollable desire to shriek with pleasure and then spin into a dithyramb about how you would adore it as your own pied-à-terre.

We had two double sets of windows opening onto small stone balconies; one looking up the Grand Canal towards the Rialto Bridge and the other facing the bustling canal with the Rialto Market on the other side. As we were on the first floor, we felt instantly connected with our exciting locale and tucked into the chocolate-tipped strawberries and champagne with sumptuous gratitude.

The room is outstandingly decorated: a pale linen walling has been meticulously applied and creamy damask silk curtains frame the glorious windows; the bed, endorsed by a gilt baroque headboard, is clothed in dreamy, soft, Frette sheets. The furniture is suitably Venetian-period in style, and the floorboards match the door-sized wooden shutters with a fitting Murano chandelier overhead. Nothing jarred, nothing cluttered, nothing spared; spot on! I can't tell you how many times my sister stood on 'her' stone balcony raising a toast to 'her' Venice.

Out and about

We had just 24 hours and savoured every moment, starting with lunch at Venice's only resort hotel, The Cipriani – unrivalled in precedence and unmatched in luxury. We indulged in a perfect bellini followed by the signature dish of beef carpaccio with that unmistakable Harry's Bar lemon-mayonnaise-cream, sitting beside that impossibly blue pool. That evening we dressed up for a supreme dinner at Ca' Sagredo's L'Alcova, starting with a gazpacho of watermelon and tomato soup, with a dollop of slightly sweet raw lagoon shrimps on layers of sea bass, followed by crispy prawns coated in melon and blossom honey. The service here is totally adorable.

For lunch the following day we chose Da Fiori, across the way near Campo San Polo, and relished the most delicate ambrosial delight in all of Italy – diced carpaccio of langoustine, marinated in lime, nestled between two white asparagus spears, with a drizzle of truffle oil and a hint of thyme – sitting beside a small canal a few yards from an almost undiscovered bridge, on a terrace made for two, with boxes of trailing pink and red geraniums. The blissful melody of Venice's ubiquitous blackbirds echoed heartily around the ancient walls while a few gondolas glided past, almost silently.

Between our divine dining, we shopped like crazy – so little time, so many treasures. We visited the Doges' Palace in St Mark's Square and, opposite, the most treasured treat of all, the saintly church of Santa Maria della Salute, housing six glorious Titian masterpieces. That was all we had time for, and I felt so cheated that I called my husband and begged for a return the following week, as it was half-term and I wanted to share my new-found jewel with the family. I called him from Harry's Bar, clutching a perfect bellini.

The half-term break embedded a fondness that is now locked deep within. Taking the children to Venice and staying at Ca'Sagredo works a dream. We lunched daily on the terrace, inches above the Grand Canal. As the clouds bubbled their 'Botticelli' white cumulus, against an angry charcoal sky, behind the Rialto Market, the sun held out its supremacy in the cerulean blue overhead. I asked the children to look for the cherubs, like those painted by Tiepoli on the oval pastel-coloured allegorical cameo, the ceiling's magical centrepiece of our Sebastiano Ricci Suite. My youngest spotted three. I still open my eyes and dream of Venice.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant

Living with legends

We visited Ca' Sagredo twice; its position on the sunny-side of the Grand Canal is quite special and the 'palace' feels extremely intimate; before you know it you become deeply attached. On our second visit to the palazzo, we took our three younger sons, who all thought that the idea of a city built entirely on water seemed unimaginable.

Predictably, we were bombarded with questions relating to 'how did they build in the water'? In layman's terms, the buildings were constructed on closely-spaced woodpiles, which were transported underwater. In the absence of oxygen, wood does not decay – it petrifies.

This wood was then penetrated deep down into the existing layers of clay and sand. Many of these 'piles' are still intact after centuries underwater and it is the brick or stone of the buildings that sit above the water that are threatened by rising levels. One of the kids later suggested that England could become the next Venice! Perhaps they didn't quite understand...

Ca'Sagredo is a classical 17th century blushed-pink Venetian palace on the Grand Canal across the way from the Rialto Market, a short stroll from the Rialto Bridge and a few steps from Ca'd'Oro, or 'House of Gold', one of the finest examples of the imaginative Gothic style. That, in itself, is priceless. It is, unquestionably, a jewel within Venice's historical crown, glowing with ageless allure. This, in part, is due to its extraordinary cultural heritage from the 17th and 18th century with great works of art from Giambattista Tiepolo, Sebastiano Ricci, Pietro Longhi, and others, lavishly displayed on walls and ceilings in grand communal spaces and in certain suites and rooms.

Ticking the boxes

Moreover, Venice 'as you want it', is constantly admired from the statuesque windows of the Grand Canal; the scenic 'highway' that snakes its way through the city and the only one in the world that you would wish to face.

The palace's interior structures have been restored with breathtaking authenticity: sweeping staircases, fireplaces, windows, marble floors along with many pieces of wonderful furnishings from those decorative centuries. This was a family home, belonging to the aesthetical family Sagredo, and the way in which it has passed from family home to 'our' good fortune feels remarkably seamless.

Ca'Sagredo can tick the boxes of Venetian prerequisites for those wishing to enjoy a stay that involves a true connection with the 'spirit' of Venice as well as natural charm, appropriate style and genuine beauty; ingredients that one would imagine to emanate from Italy's 'La Serenissima' (the most serene). The hotel is delightfully uncluttered in order not to mask the inherited assets, and what they have added contemporaneously is not only sympathetic but stylish too.

Celestial sleep

The boys are obsessed with cricket and, if not that, anything that moves on a screen. Sadly, the first thing they ran to after we opened the glorious double doors to their vast inter-connecting suite was the television. What channels do they have in Venice?

With a sinking heart I flung open the shutters of their princely room – which took some time, as it is larger than many homes – revealing a vista that could mesmerise the most corrupted of millennium babes. The only sport on Eurosport was show jumping, which they watched in the evenings, while we dined a deux on the candle-lit terrace beneath them, a few inches above the water.

We had the pleasure of that coveted 'upgrade' to the Sebastiano Ricci Presidential Suite: 110 square metres of boudoir heaven with castle-style double doors opening onto a corridor which led into the children's room with double aspect views onto the canal from our magnificent windows, complete with their original door-sized shutters for silent slumber, and small balconies guarded by stone lion gargoyles. No wonder Scooby Doo was forgotten.

Palatial pleasures

To describe our 'boudoir' without hyperbole is a tricky task when such rich, palatial and museum-esque pleasures are yours for a few days. If history and allegorical art does not appeal, then this is not the room for you.

Our super-sized bed was raised on a plinth due to the slight incline of an aged marble floor. This enormous and blissfully comfortable seven-footer appeared small within the four walls and sat dreamily beneath one of the most angelic ceiling cameos. Painted by Sebastiano Ricci in the early 18th century, it occupies an oval shape taking up more than a third of the ceiling. Ricci was an important Viennese Rococo artist who went to Venice as a young man where he received tutelage from Sebastiano Mazzoni and Federico Cervelli and soon received commissions from the rich and serious.

This wonderfully scenic 'opening of heaven' allegory, with chubby cherubs, tangible fluffy white cumulous, powder blue sky and iconic figures, became the focal point of the suite. Having stared up at it for four mornings and nights I never once tired of it; I simply wish I had one of these at home.

The furniture is grand without seeming at all ostentatious; it is honest to the period and in keeping with the opulent style of the room. Gilt surrounds – yes; commissioned bespoke golden-silk fabrics – yes; marble – yes; Large Rococo mirrors – yes; 'period' Murano lights – yes; and those glorious windows... YES! From our suite, the view is side-on to a picturesque and quiet square and faces up the Grand Canal towards the Rialto Bridge. The bathrooms were suitably stamped in 'palazzo'.

All about the acqua 

Some of our most special moments were dining on the terrace of the Restaurant L'Alcove. Nothing is too much for the staff here; the chef is refreshingly adventurous with flavour and always willing to accommodate the eclectic nuances of the younger generation. For many, Venice is about the water, especially this bustling aorta, which never ceases to entertain and amuse its onlookers.

The hotel enjoys the boisterous jollies from the gondola park that sits outside, as well as the enormous convenience of one of the few 'almost' free gondola taxis that ferry the punters back and forth to the Rialto Market. The light in Venice is quite incandescent and the reflected light by day and night is truly magical from here. During one lunch, on the terrace at Ca'Sagredo, the sky went from mid-day-azure to cotton wool to angry slate and back to azure; with each light change, the setting took on an hypnotic glow. It is blissfully transporting here.

We visited the list of 'must-sees', enjoying many even more than previously, but the greatest pleasure of all was the delight it gave the children. They were fascinated, intrigued, stupefied, educated and adored the food and theatrical street entertainment. We also spent half a day on the Lido, a kind of Mesopotamia for Venetians. Only 30 minutes by snazzy speedboat, this is great fun and feels weirdly different from Venice.

The raked line of beach felt like a 50s throwback: multi-coloured bathing cabins, striped umbrellas, ice cream vendors and bathers with swimming caps. It was also extremely noiseless. Streets here are lined with grand villas and aged mottled beech trees, and there are a couple of recommended cafés in which to enjoy some sea-to-pan fare. We lunched under the dappled shade of crimson bougainvillea, at Trattoria Favorita, amongst locals and little watchful lizards.

Ca'Sagredo welcomes families and even though it could classify itself more as a museum for cultural couples, it embraces both; it was a home after all, and the whole management ethos is about warmth and making sure you pursue your happiness. As a hotel, this peachy palazzo will capture both the hearts and minds of those who want to seize the essence of La Serenissima: the heart of Italy's serenity.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant

Luxury Explorer