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Grecotel’s Mykonos Blu
So Greece’s new Prime Minister doesn’t want you to stay in all-inclusive hotels. And although his new Syriza government came swiftly out and reassured us that they won’t take any action against them, he still has a point. All-inclusives do nothing for the local communities they’re based in, and they do nothing for broadening the minds of their guests.
Greece, of course, is chock full of delightful independent hotels. But if you’re an all-inclusive type who’s keen to step out of your comfort zone, but not to the extent of booking a one-off place, here’s a halfway house – some of our favorite Greek hotel chains.
A Mastic Sour with the Monastery of St John on the hill, top right
We blame the Grande Bretagne in Athens. After we tasted the Tears of Chios cocktail at its rooftop Selfie Spot bar, we got a little obsessed with mastiha, a liquor flavored with mastic (a gum-resin thing that’s produced on the island of Chios). Mastiha cocktails, neat mastiha after dinner – it’s all we wanted to drink in Greece.
So when we were on the island of Patmos, we went in search of mastiha-infused cocktails. Patmos is a notoriously un-party island (it’s home to a huge monastery, various convents and the Cave of the Apocalypse) so this was always going to be a tall order.
We started at Patmos Aktis, one of the poshest hotels on the island, which had looked lush from afar. But then we left immediately because the server in the (deserted) restaurant threw a tantrum about us only wanting drinks.
We ended up in port town Skala at Chris Hotel, not nearly as rarefied a place as Patmos Aktis (right by the port, for starters – and then there’s the name), but not nearly as snooty. The terrace bar, which had been buzzing every time we drove by, was full – and not just with tourists, but mainly with locals. This, apparently, is where the young of Patmos go to party.
Hotel Openings / Hotel Reopenings / Hotel Rebrandings / Mykonos Hotels / Greek Island Hotels / Starwood Hotels / → All Tags
Mykonos is already huge, of course, but it’s getting more attention from the luxury set this summer with BA launching direct flights from London (no more indirects/slumming it on SqueezyJet) and a whole host of new openings.
Starwood is (re)unveiling Santa Marina, a Luxury Collection resort, following a three-year renovation (picture below). The hotel is waterside in Omos Bay, and all rooms have at least a partial sea view. Designwise, they’ve gone for clean and contemporary – wood floors, neutral colors and oversized windows to keep the focus on the views. Rates start at €322 (£436).
Meanwhile, Small Luxury Hotels of the World have added three properties to their portfolio. Boheme, an all-suite hotel just outside Mykonos Town, combines sea views from on high with midcentury furniture to pep up the white color scheme. Rooms start from €180 ($244), with breakfast.
We figure you can't go too wrong opening a hotel on pretty much any Greek island. It looks like the Fairmont Hotels gang think the same because they've just announced a new property called the Fairmont Corfu Resort & Spa. No prizes for figuring out it's on the island of Corfu, okay?
Riots or not, we have faith that Greece is a great place for a relaxing vacation. Just imagine this for the setting of a resort:
Bordered by olive groves, cypress-forested areas and sandy beaches with views of the Ionian Sea and the surrounding mountains.
That's what the new Fairmont Corfu is promising and we've got to say, it sounds like something for us. The resort will be a 240-roomer with a large spa center and a choice of six spots for drinks and eats.
Only drawback? It's not even slated to open before 2012, which is a long way off. But if you're really hankering for an exotic Fairmont location, hit up the Fairmont Cairo which will open in 2010.
A while back we tipped you off that the pool at Perivolas on Santorini, Greece had the best views from a pool in the world--but we failed to mention that this pool is one of our most favorite variety, an infinity pool.
And it's one helluva infinity pool. Not only does its edge drop into the horizon, the horizon is a picturesque Greek island scene of more blue water and uninhabited islands. It's their own publicity that says this, but it mightn't be too far from the truth: this pool is "one of the most magnificent settings on earth".
As far as accommodation goes (unless you really do want to spend your entire holiday next to this pool, which we could understand), Perivolas is a set of 17 luxury apartments restored from long-used caves on the coast. They're alongside a wellness center with steam bath and sauna and a fitness studio too. But when we visit Perivolas, all we see is the pool.
· Daily Candy Lists World's Bests Pools [HotelChatter]
· Hotels on Santorini [HotelChatter]
· Travel Stories in Greece [Jaunted]
Think sunny Greece, think warm Greek islands, think photogenic architecture and you're on Santorini. Our tip this week for a place to stay is the Hotel Margarita at Firostefani, allegedly one of the most beautiful parts of Santorini. The rooms at the Margarita look pretty much like an interior version of the external white and blue Santorini, with bright, happy color and a relaxed summer feel. There's a swimming pool for kids, and the adults version which includes a pool bar. And they say you can see the sunrise from the balcony of every room.
On top of all that, you get airconditioning, a fridge for any drinks you don't get from the pool bar, and satellite TV as well. We could say it's missing Wifi, but if you're holidaying on Santorini and can't live without constant internet access, you might be missing the point.
· Hotel Margarita reviews [TripAdvisor]
Literally. Bratsera Hotel is a converted 19th-century sponge trading post on Greece's Hydra Island. The property is on vehicle-free Hydra, but is only a 90 minute ferry boat ride from Athens, and everybody loves ferry boats.
In the off season Hydra Island can be sparsely populated, but still come complete with excellent weather.
The hotel's make shift website provides a long, detailed video of the hotel that gives you a feel for what is like to spend a night or two in an old sponge factory.
We hear the hotel pool can get a bit shady, and by shady we mean without sunlight, though who knows about the dude in the speedo pictured above, but keep this in mind--it is the only hotel pool on the island.
Bedrooms have whitewashed walls, high ceilings, and the in-house restaurant is well regarded.
Tip: Avoid the rooms without balconies and yes, thin walls + honeymoon hotel = sleepless nights for some.
Low season rates start at 132.00.