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Claire Ridley visits Venice to discover how the floating city is one of the most romantic places in the world
With my ancestry being Italian, I jumped at the chance to visit Venice, the capital of northern Italy's Veneto region, to review it as a city break for honeymooners, and I wasn't disappointed. With its colourful ancient buildings and web of waterways, there's something special around every turn.
Located just a short distance from San Marco Square and the Rialto Bridge, the Splendid Venice Starhotels Collezione hotel was to be my home away from home for two nights. This luxurious,165-room property sits right on the Mercerie, the ancient alleyways that make up the main shopping area of this bustling city, and is accessed by watertaxi from Venice Marco Polo Airport. I fell in love at first sight with the pink exterior (my favourite colour!) not to mention the hotel's rooms, including 12 Splendid Heritage Suites and its elegant Presidential Suite, which are the best offerings for honeymooners. These rooms measure 40-square metres (whens pace is at a premium in Venice) with guaranteed privacy and feature sumptuous velvet furnishings and bespoke bathrooms complete with Acqua di Parma amenities. Honeymooners can take advantage of the 24-hour room service so that they don't have to leave the room if they don't want to, plus other bespoke services such as private in-room check-in when booking a suite.
WINING AND DINING
On the ground floor of this charming hotel is the LeMaschere restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It features a retractable glass roof making it the ideal spot for al fresco dining and attracts localsand tourists alike. Serving traditional Italian dishes and seasonal Venetian cuisine, the fresh seafood and local vegetables are a must-try. For a more casual dining experience including afternoon tea, the Lounge Bar features large arched windows looking out on the canal and comfy sofas to watch the gondoliers go by. The cocktail menu is endless with the Italian Bellini and house signature Laguna blend not to be missed. The chic and stylish rooftop bar, known as the Altana, offers a relaxing vibe, with a clear view of the Venice bell towers, and panoramic vistas of this Instagrammer's delight. It's also suitably placed towatch the sun go down.
VILLA MICHELANGELOVICENZA STARHOTELSCOLLEZIONE
The second part of my trip involved a night at this four-star hotel nestled in the heart of the picturesque Berici Hills. It's an elegant 18th-century property, located a short distance from Vicenza, a city with UNESCO World Heritage recognition, and provides a quiet, tranquil gateway to the vibrancy of Venice. The 46 rooms and 6 suites feature traditional Venetian floors, exposed beams, high ceilings and pieces of antique furniture in keeping with its authentic Italian style. The Executive Suites are the perfect pick for honeymooners with their marble bathrooms, private balconies and uninterrupted views of the manicured gardens.
WINING AND DINING
The Ristorante La Loggia has been built across four rooms on the ground floor of the hotel with stunning vistas of the Berici Hills magnified through the tall windows. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served here, with the American-style buffet breakfast offering a large selection of fresh local fruit, cheeses and homemade pastries that can be enjoyed on the adjoining terrace during the summer months. Dinner sees the finest seasonal products used in local dishes (with the fresh pasta and ravioli tasting like nothing I have sampled before), accompanied by an extensive wine list, with help on pairing them I was spoilt for choice! A long lunch or afternoon tea can also be enjoyed here, with delicious cakes and sandwiches served with the impeccable service which the hotel is well known for.