Your Own Private Venice

Beloved by Hollywood stars and tech titans, the San Clemente Palace Hotel Kempinski raises the bar on Venetian hospitality.

  • Category
    Travel
  • Written by
    Fredric Hamber

There are plenty of reasons San Clemente Palace Hotel Kempinski has served as a retreat for Hollywood stars (such as Benedict Cumberbatch) who crave the privacy to be had there. The resort is its own island, accessible via yacht or water taxi or an eight-minute ride on the hotel’s shuttle boat from St. Mark’s Square. Upon alighting on the island you may hear the sound of songbirds from the lawns and gardens that serve as backdrop for a swimming pool, tennis court, and 190 guest rooms and suites.

Throughout the property are welcoming spaces within spaces, cocoons within cocoons, sculpture gardens and graciously wide, light-filled stairway landings. In the hotel’s spa, there’s a suite where a couple can indulge in a sauna and Turkish bath. The massage cream is made from Moceniga roses grown outside. The San Clemente Suite (10,000 euros/night) has its own kitchen where chef Giorgio Schifferegger can prepare a private “chef’s table” dinner for your family.

The buffet breakfast is so bountiful you may not notice a particular treat until your second or third morning: the tranche of fresh dripping honeycomb to sweeten your fruit, the chicken dim sum, or the chilled bottle of Prosecco reminding you that you’re on vacation. Lunch is a time to try the poolside La Dolce Restaurant and Bar, which serves grilled meats and pizza from the sort of wood-fired oven that is not allowed elsewhere in Venice.

Within a 12th-century church on the grounds is another chapel of stone and marble and fresco—a “church within a church”—built in 1643 to celebrate the end of the plague.

For Biennale Arte 2019, the massive international exhibition is shown in two locations in Venice, and that continues through November 24. This year’s theme is “May You Live In Interesting Times,” and the director asked each of the participating artists to offer two works, one to be exhibited at each venue: the Arsenale and Giardini. To coincide with the exhibition, San Clemente Palace is currently displaying in its gardens sculptures by English artist Tony Cragg and Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos.

Or, for an only-in-Venice experience, ask the concierge staff to arrange a visit to a Venetian mask maker, where you can choose your favorite style in plain papier-mâché, then don a smock and colorfully paint it according to your fantasy so you’ll be ready for your next masked ball.

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