While Venice might not be top of the family travel league table, The Hotel Cipriani takes its junior guest satisfaction very seriously, offering heaps of Venetian-themed activities. What’s more, with the biggest outdoor pool in Venice, and acres of garden to run riot in, my eight year-old daughter Molly and I combined some culture with a lot of fun in the beautiful floating city.
Getting small children enthused about history and architecture can be challenging at the best of times. Convincing them to sit still in a boat while you do it is, quite simply, ridiculous. I was somewhat relieved therefore when the concierge at The Cipriani came up with an alternative to the traditional gondola tour. Kayaks.
Hours later, armed with life jackets and paddles, Mollyand I set off, behind our fabulous guide Rene, on a self-propelled tour of Venice.
Once we’d mastered the art of a co-ordinated paddling approach, we got into quite a nifty rhythm and crossed the busy Giudecca Canal (which separates Giudecca Island, home of The Cipriani, from Venice) and up into the Grand Canal.
Rene made the tour fun for Molly by talking about life in Venice for the locals, pointing out palaces, galleries, museums and churches along the way, not to mention daily life on the water (from rubbish collectors to shop delivery boats, ambulances to removal companies). As we kayaked under the wonderful Rialto Bridge we seemed to take on celebrity status and hoards of camera-wielding tourists snapped pictures of us in our little orange vessel.
Molly was fascinated by the thousands of ornate and beautiful (and sometimes just plain tacky) masks on show in Venice. Ranging in price from a couple of euros from the waterside traders, to hundreds of euros in some of the more illustrious stores, she spent hours pacing up and down mask-covered walls pointing out her favourites.
Understandably, then, she was more than a little excited when a visit to the hotel’s Smile Club enabled her to create and decorate her very own Venetian mask. Incredible care and attention to detail – not to mention a considerable amount of paint, glitter, glue, stickers and feathers – went into the afternoon’s craft session, and Molly was chuffed to bits by her (somewhat minimalist I felt!) mask design.
The hotel: Stay at The Hotel Cipriani on Giudecca Island. Just a five minute (complimentary) water taxi away from St Mark’s Square, there’s the Smile Kids Club, an Olympic-sized swimming pool andextensive list of family activities in and around Venice.
Prices: A double garden view room for two adults and one child starts from £705 per night including breakfast.
Getting there: easyJet flies from Venice from Gatwick, Manchester and Southend Airports. Fares start from £21.49 one way.