After a couple of minutes’ walk from the vaporetto stop at Mercato di Rialto, I reach the smooth, terracotta-coloured exterior of Hotel L’Orologio and its neatly understated L’O logo painted above the door. The perfectly groomed receptionist apologetically tells me that my room isn’t ready (which isn’t surprising, because I’m arriving from an absurdly early flight), but he tells me to take a seat in the sleek lounge while he orders me an espresso. In keeping with the property’s name, which literally translates as The Clock Hotel, timepieces figure in all sorts of witty and elegant ways. The designers seem to have realised that clocks can make fantastic works of art, and they’re all over the interior.
Rialto fish and vegetable market, which is a few paces from the hotel, is one of the best Venetian sights to have on your doorstep. The hotel is in the San Polo district, one of the few central neighbourhoods to have escaped the rampant tourism that plagues the area around Piazza San Marco. Here, you can still find cafes that cater for the dwindling number of true Venetians. San Polo is my favourite district of Venice.
My room is a cocoon of deep-red walls, a massive, pleated red velvet wall covering, red leather chairs, black wooden floors, red Murano-glass tables and, as with all the rooms, clock-fixated artwork. The brown marble bathroom has a rainforest shower in its compact bath. All very stylish, if a little dark. When I open the curtains, I’m greeted with the sight of the Grand Canal. I’m on the fourth floor, which also has an adorable little communal terrace overlooking the peaceful courtyard garden, with tables, chairs and mini sun loungers.
Staff members are helpful and courteous, and all have an excellent knowledge of English, in case your Italian isn’t up to scratch.
Although the place oozes sophistication, it doesn’t make you feel scruffy. Guests come from all over the world, but North Americans appear to dominate during my stay.
The kitchen serves nibbles during early evening drinks, but there’s no proper restaurant. The breakfast buffet is small but very good, with a tasty selection of Italian cheeses, cold meats, breads and eggs. There’s plenty of fruit and healthy smoothies and, this being Italy, an obligatory offering of cakes.
Waking up to a view of the Grand Canal is glorious. And even if you haven’t got a canal-side room, the hotel’s location, in one of Venice’s buzziest districts, is superb.
Stylish as my room is, its dark interior leaves me groping around in the gloom at times. Conversely, when sunshine pours in through the windows, the effect is blinding because of the overly dark walls. The minibar must have been designed to go into a cupboard, because it has a light that never goes out – annoying when you’re trying to sleep.
A classy hotel in a great location near all the big sights, but removed from the tourist hordes.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Hotel L'Orologio (www.hotelorologiovenezia.com) cost from €200 (Dh826) per night, including breakfast.
This review was done at the invitation of the hotel.