Plenty of hotels to choose from in Venice, so anything worth writing home about has to be a little special, right? The Charming House cluster focuses on boutique intimacy and luxury living, and raises the bar with some serious contemporary art as well as design décor. The first two of its three addresses are in Dorsoduro, the sestiere of the Accademia Galleries, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and Punta della Dogana among other attractions, and just a few steps over the Accademia bridge from San Marco yet infinitely quieter. They go by the names of DD724 and DD694 and were both completely overhauled not much more than a year ago. What they promise is the look and feel of a private residence. There are in fact just a handful of exclusive rooms and suites with original architectural features, plush furnishings in natural colours, a distinctive label on everything from sofas to lighting to linens (Frigerio, Designers Guild, Renzo Serafini, Viabizzuno, Gervasoni, for example), design bathrooms, and all the 5-star comforts, technology and services. Family room and suites are extra-spacious, but all have natural light and views over the canals, the gardens of the Peggy Guggenheim building or both. A bounteous buffet breakfast is served in one of the common areas, richly endowed in warm tones, mellow and inviting. Art (by Gianni Tarli, Stefania Orrù and Mauro Mazzolini among others) and beautiful books are integral parts of the whole.
Right in the heart of the watery city is the third Charming House, barely a five-minute stroll from Piazza San Marco and still less to the Rialto Bridge. This one, called iQs, has three ultra-smart, self-contained apartments within the gothic confines of Palazzo Venier, and views over the canals, sumptuous Palazzo Querini Stampalia (of Carlo Scarpa fame) and a gorgeous internal courtyard. The concept is the same, including the design décor and the prestigious pieces by contemporary Italian artists. One of the suites is larger (90 square metres) and more luxurious than the others, but all offer the experience of an upscale, serviced Venetian pad to call your own for a while. Even access is exclusive, via the palace’s own bridge or private landing place. You might expect formality and solemnity with all this opulence: have no fear. Charming House staff are just that, among the friendliest and most obliging you’ll come across.