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Francis Bown, Bown's Best

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See below for the latest March 2019 Reviews

Francis Bown with Gloria Beggiato, The Metropole Hotel, Venice, Italy | Bown's Best


The Metropole in Venice is an hotel for those “in the know”. It is comfortable, well-located and has a Michelin star twinkling over its restaurant. But it also has something else which nowadays is quite rare: character. Character is difficult to define, but when you encounter it you recognise it immediately. In a world in which too many hotels seem to strive for the same ghastly blandness, The Metropole stands out as a beacon of hope. The owner and General Manager, the charming and vivacious Gloria Beggiato (pictured, with your correspondent), runs her establishment with enormous panache. The result is that hers is the very best sort of luxury establishment.

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Francis Bown with Sergio Fragiacomo, Bistrot de Venise, Venice, Italy | Bown's Best


Having degrees from three universities, it pleases me to regard myself as an academic manqué – although my long-suffering tutors would certainly have wished to put the emphasis on the manqué. Still, I like to see evidence of intellectual endeavour – even in restaurants. How often do I find it? Not often. But there is one place where it is conspicuously present. It is in beautiful Venice: the splendid Bistrot de Venise. Here you will find not only interpretations of Venetian recipes from the 14th to the 18th centuries, but also a programme of events which includes both wine tastings and talks on intriguing aspects of history, art and culture. I say: Bravo!

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Antinoo's Restaurant, Centurion Palace Hotel, Venice, Italy | Bown's Best


In Venice it is always exciting to get off the public boat at the Salute stop. The great church of Santa Maria della Salute stands proudly before those who alight here. No artist worth his salt visits Venice without painting at least one canvas of Longhena’s masterpiece. Its bravura is astonishing. And a few pleasant steps away stands the Centurion Palace, an hotel which occupies one of the grandest-looking Gothic palazzi on the Grand Canal. It has been wonderfully restored. Its painstaking restoration took many years and has resulted in an establishment which is now regarded as one of the finest in the city. That reputation is being enhanced by its dining room, Antinoo’s.

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Francis Bown 2003
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