The Heurika is a laidback, pocket-friendlier alternative to tried and tested Venetian favourites. It is located in still-authentic Cannaregio, where the Orsoni mosaic makers, the Valese brass foundry and Mario Berta Battiloro – the last of the city’s great artisans – can be found. The hotel occupies a 16th-century Palazzo, transformed into a tranquil, ten-room retreat with a magical walled garden. Here, we experienced generous breakfasts, simple but delicious lunches and an eye-popping array of drinks served to the twittering of birdsong and the mellow clang of bells from the neighbouring church of Madonna dell’Orto, where Tintoretto is buried. Heureka combines Renaissance grandeur with a playful contemporary vibe: its terrazzo floors and ancient, worn limestone are juxtaposed with polished marble inlays; Venetian lanterns contrast with a statement Francisco Gomez Paz chandelier; sumptuous Rubelli silks clash with Christian Lacroix fabrics – fantasy and colour abound. Bedrooms are all different, if equally eclectic – some featuring the most unusual bathrooms we have ever seen. The best rooms have canal or garden-and-lagoon views – our favourites are rooms 1 and 5. Combined with friendly service under GM Andrea Penzo, a native of Venice, you can be sure of a memorable stay.