Hotel Cipriani, As Seen By Chris Rhodes

Words by Belmond Editors
The Hotel Cipriani private launch cuts a bow wave through the green water at dusk. In the background, the lights of St Marks

Dive into Rhodes’ artistic exploration of this legendary Venetian residence, where the world’s most recognisable names come to indulge in life’s greatest pleasures.

In Chris Rhodes’ first photobook — Hotel Mermaid Club, published in 2019 — the British iconoclast curates an ode to daily life, offering “nostalgia through iconic references.” A slice of juicy watermelon, nibbled to its rind, throws a curiously strong shadow on a sunny day. A partially opened letterbox engenders an unexpected sense of discovery. A lampshade, shot in tight framing, invites the viewer to consider its story within unidentified surroundings. It’s this unique sense of focus that allows Rhodes’ work to reveal new perspectives on the ebb and flow of daily life.

Perhaps a curious partnership, then, to invite Chris Rhodes to capture the Hotel Cipriani, which is anything but ordinary. Steeped in a uniquely glamorous history, this Venetian legend first opened its doors in 1958 at the instigation of Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice and inventor of the famous Bellini cocktail. A true cultural touchstone, the place feels like its own intimate island. A self-contained oasis with private access, heartbeats away from San Marco.

It is within Hotel Cipriani’s unique moments — the iconic pool at which to see and be seen, the half-drunk Bellinis of countless parties, the escapist glamour of breakfast in bed — that Rhodes celebrates everyday life at the hotel. During his stay, he immersed himself in the very fabric of this Giudecca island hideaway, finding allure in the ordinary.

His photos immerse viewers in the excitement of a place where Venetian roots meet Hotel Cipriani's vision for the future. Take his photograph of what appears to be traditional Venetian mask, which is in fact a dish at the hotel’s Michelin-starred Oro restaurant. It is transformed through the appliqué of delicate flowers, framed with a shadow that suggests the idolent heat of a lengthening day. It captures not just the cultural history of the city, but also the hotel’s past with Giacomo Casanova, who once wooed lovers in the hotel’s grounds. Today these gardens, with ancient roses and blooming wisteria, still offer travelers a sense of romance and serenity.

Rhodes’ images showcase the allure of Hotel Cipriani, embodying the essence of a place where the world’s most fascinating people come together. No wonder the guest book is heaving with names of cultural tastemakers and Hollywood jet-setters: Burt Reynolds, Candice Bergen, Gérard Depardieu and Cary Grant, to name just a few. Like the guests themselves, the hotel — and Rhodes’ photographs — brim with a sense of charisma and mystery, echoing the footsteps of of stars.

Days at Hotel Cipriani are best enjoyed in beautiful idleness: taking advantage of the gently rippling pool, or finding a front-row seat to the charm of lagoon life. But a new spirit takes hold when the sun sets. Private boats ferry bon viveurs between San Marco and the hotel, the sunset becoming a burnished bridge between glorious day and seductive night. Rhodes captures this sense of motion and excitement, heralding the nighttime arrival at our grounds as a hallowed ritual replete with promise.

Immersed in the celebration of the moment, Chris Rhodes finds a sense of communality in this atmosphere. In moments from daybreak to dusk, capturing an enchanting Venetian oasis that inspires the legends of today and tomorrow.

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