DD 724 Charming House.
Amid the historic treasures of the idyllic island that is Venice we found a secluded boutique hotel with an unusual name: DD 724 Charming House. Leaving the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowd behind us at the Accademia vaporetto stop on the Grand Canal, we threaded our way through several twisting Venetian streets, passing through an iron gate then down an even narrower alley to abruptly find an intimate luxury lodging of contemporary design.
Here was a place worthy of a doge’s visit, set in the midst of twenty-first century ducal delights. After a trans-continental journey of four airline flights, we found welcome relief in the smartly-appointed room. My wife felt sheer joy opening the dark, wooden chest containing a treasure trove of deluxe vanity products. Here were four jars of special formulas, featuring perfumed bath water, hydrating body cream made with fig extracts, and a ten-inch long bar of “pure vegetable soap,” all custom-imprinted with the DD 724 Venezia label. Certainly much care had gone into the creation and design of these custom products, an uncommon investment in personal care items that bore no commercial market potential. After a luxurious bath in the tile and marble tub, a fresh, terry-cloth robe and soft terry-cloth sandals awaited each of us. Our son, fashioning himself a prince, regaled himself with soft drinks and snacks after raiding the room’s mini-bar.
Stepping out on the balcony we found a tranquil garden situated below us in Venice’s Dorsoduro quarter, just steps away from the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery. And though art treasures were yet to be visited in local museums and palaces, here in our room abstract oil paintings, stretched over rectangular and square frames, adorned our walls. As evening came, yearning to recapture some of our lost sleep, we sought refuge in our comfortable beds. But when we turned off the lights, much to our surprise and unending delight there appeared the stark image of a mysterious yet benign male face, luminescing as if by magic from underneath a meter-square wall hanging of stretched silken fabric. He seemed both to welcome and invite us into that aristocratic heritage that has made this tiny isola so magnificent and historically rich. With that we bid him a cheerful buona sera and fell asleep.
In the morning we strolled across the waiting room to a dining area where several tables had been set for paired guests. We helped ourselves to a buffet of hearty cereals and granola, yogurt, juices, rolls, fruit preserves, nut butters, croissants, pastries, scrambled eggs and prosciutto. Hot lattes and a hot chocolate were soon delivered as we feasted on our morning repast. The day’s weather forecast was posted on a slip of paper at each table, alerting us to a sunny day ahead. Scanning more of the hotel now, I saw the compatibility of our hotel’s emphasis on rectangular shapes with Peggy Guggenheim’s adjacent art collection featuring European and American art of the first half of the twentieth century that included masterpieces of Cubism and Futurism. Throughout each room, right-angled décor was accentuated in each fixture, lamp shade, chair, floor covering and wall hanging. Squares, rectangles and cubes were abundant, from the box-shaped pedestal sink in the bathroom to the leather-covered cube that served as a short desk chair in our studio bedroom. The chair upon which I sit writing is upholstered with a woven fabric design featuring a symmetrical pattern of black, white and tan squares. Outside, the bells toll their rhythmic chimes, reminding me that I am still connected to my European roots, though distance of space and time has eroded my appreciation of the sacrifices and investment that had been made to create such a rich culture.
DD 724’s owner Chiara Bocchini has taken her experience from working in her own hotel in Milano Maritima to create a warmly modern yet tranquil Venetian retreat. Refashioning a pre-nineteenth century building into a modern design, architectMilano Marittima completed the project that opened in summer 2003. Charming House’s seven boutique rooms range from 200 to 500 Euros and are part of the Design Hotels and Alberghi dell’arte chain. Four additional luxury suites, dubbed the IQs, are also available at a range of 290 to 780 Euros per night. Complimentary wi-fi is available throughout. For a truly luxurious experience in one of the most remarkable boutique hotels of Venice, DD 724 Charming House is worthy of any duke or duchess.