Attracted by the promise of four hours in the spa for €25, we rocked up to the Ai Reali Hotel. Situated in Campo della Fava the hotel entrance is very luxurious. After the heat of the day outside, the cooling marble is a welcome relief and the 5 star luxury hotel definitely exudes class.
We’re sent up to the fourth floor for the Reali Wellness Spa and approach the counter, only to be told that they’re expecting a group of twelve in a forty minutes and that they would be leaving at 6pm, the spa closing at 9pm. We could have either of those time slots but they wouldn’t be lowering the price. I raise an eyebrow at this – 4 hours for €25 has become 3 hours for €25. I certainly don’t contemplate 40mins for €25. We make a booking for 6-9pm and head back into Venice’s heat.
At 6pm we head back and are welcomed into the spa and shown around. It’s very much like the Hilton Molina Stucky spa – a sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi and relaxation room. Tucked away beside the Jacuzzi are the showers with a bewildering array of knobs and dials. Ange and I look at them for a while and I tell her I have it figured out.
Ok then, she says, make it work. I make sure all the blue/red dials are somewhere in the middle between blue and red and then vigorously push all the knobs and buttons. Ange is simultaneously bombarded with water from a myriad jets in the power shower. She almost chokes on the water while laughing at the deluge and my ham-fisted approach to turning them all on at once.
Suitably cleansed, we immerse ourselves in the Jacuzzi and I start on my mission to find the switches for the jets. Success! Also like Molina there are two switches and they each control a different set of jets. The Ai Reali Jacuzzi is bigger though – you could definitely fit twenty people in there.
After twenty minutes in the bubbles, we decide to give the sauna a go. I find it hard going so after probably seven minutes we decide to see if the steam room is more bearable and head next door. It’s not, so we decide to head past the rehydration station, with an excellent selection of teas, and outside to check out the rooftop terrace.
Wow! It’s gorgeous. I’m not sure if it’s because the sun is starting to set behind the buildings or because being on the roof away from the hubbub of the tourists and street noise, but the oasis on the roof is delightfully tranquil. We sit sipping our waters and gaze out across the city’s roofs – statues and plain terracotta roofs contrasting with those bristling with satellite dishes and TV aerials. A fitting metaphor for the medieval old world of the Venetian empire meeting the modern nation of Italy.
After watching the sun go down we head back inside for a final dip in the Jacuzzi before showering and getting changed. We only saw one other customer the whole time we were there, which really made the place feel like it was just for us.