by Ed Hahn
Hong Kong, China
September 9, 2005
We are delighted to discover that the Abbazia is a converted abbey of the barefooted Carmelite Friars of Venice. It has an astounding lobby that was, at one time, the monk’s dining room and includes a raised pulpit from which scriptures were read during meal time. We also notice a beautiful garden and breakfast site that we can see from our window.
It is not only just 150m from the railway station "Santa Lucia," but also about 8 minutes from the "Piazzale Roma" car and bus terminal. It has evidently been recently restored and contains 50 rooms furnished with a modern bathroom, an air-conditioner (so important in the summer), direct-dial telephone, TV, and minibar. In addition to the aforementioned pulpit, there are holy-water bowls in some of the most disconcerting places and brass chandeliers hang from the ceiling, though I doubt the monks were much for chandeliers. Our rooms are done in a kind of peach-shaded tone with dark green accents. The rooms are quite a bit larger than I expect the monks’ cells were.
The location turned out to be even better than I had imagined. The Vaparetto station is a 3-minute walk, and there are numerous restaurants, cafés, delis, and bars within 200m. A combination launderette and Internet shop are close. (I know, it’s a weird combination.) Even though we are within a short distance of the train station, the noise does not penetrate, even with the windows open. What does penetrate are the morning bells, which ring twice at 7:30 and 8am, I believe - no need for an alarm or a wake-up call.
The staff is one of the strengths of the place: friendly, helpful, and humorous. Our last day, even though we know the place is full, we ask for a room for the day at a discount because we are taking a sleeper to Paris. The clerks tell us we can have a room and a discount as long as we pay in cash. Hmmmmm? We are happy to collude in the arrangement.
The only thing I can complain about is breakfast. It was ample but mundane. However, eating in the garden made even the mundane breakfast interesting. In the evenings, we always stopped at the bar for a drink. The bartender, Matteo, an Argentinean expat, told great stories of his adventures.
The Abbazia is a three-star establishment with four-star ambience and service. Shop the Internet for rates. We stayed there for considerably less than the rates advertised on their own site.
From journal Venal Venice - Beautiful and Decaying