Greece’s classic holiday offering of whitewashed houses, welcoming tavernas beside glittering blue waters and ancient ruins is enjoying a style shake-up, with an ever-expanding selection of luxury hideaways andboutique hotels. Enjoy some secluded spots off the beaten path, where there’s no chance of bumping into a colleague or old school chum and where the vibe is more pared-back luxury and immersive experience than gold-leaf interiors and souvenir shopping.
Small has never been bigger and there are gems to be unearthed all over this sun-soaked land – Amanzoe hides away on a hilltop in the Peloponnese, while Ekies All Senses is a haven for hedonists in Halkidiki. Island hop to the Cyclades to discover tiny Serifos, with secluded treasure Coco-Mat, and boutique hotel Grace carves out its own slice of heaven on a cliff top in Santorini. While Crete may be the largest of the Greek islands, its Caramel Grecotel creates a luxury holiday bubble just for you. Just keep ’em under wraps, okay?
PORTO HELI, PELOPONNESE
The lowdown A secluded hilltop sanctuary with archaeologicalgems within spitting distance.
Best for Stylistas in search of an exclusive retreat.
The fact that Amanzoe’s standalone pavilions (38 in total) each come with their very only plunge pool (either 6m or 12m) and private terrace, gives you a hint of what to expect at this sleek and serene resort on a dramatic hilltop location, complete with 360-degree views of the mountainous countryside and rocky coves of the Peloponnese.
Designed by US-born architect Edward Tuttle, this is a glossy palace for relaxation and wellbeing, complete with neo-classical stone pillars, colonnades and marble-clad surfaces.
Browse the well-stocked library (we’re talking more than 1,000 titles, bibliophiles), take in a live performance – ranging from drama to jazz – at the resort’s small-but-perfectly formed amphitheatre overlooking the Argo-Saronic Gulf, or head for the outstanding spa.
There’s a green-marble infinity pool with wraparound terrace, or hail down one of the resort’s Mercedes SUVs to whisk you down to the Beach Club where the turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea await.
The lowdown A lavish beach-front resort, infused with glamorous eccentricity.
Best for Sun-worshippers and high-end pampering.
Opulent emerald velvet sofas in the lobby of Caramel Grecotel set the tone for a sleek, modern space full of exuberance. The brilliant white walls and airy interior spaces are nothing less than palatial, with a design aesthetic that fuses that flawless white backdrop with carefully curated pieces of antique and contemporary furniture and handmade floor tiles.
This chic take on glamorous eccentricity is summed up by a stunning Confetti Pool set in a green manicured Mediterranean garden – at sunset, the bottom of it lights up with colour. The bright suites come with all mod cons and sea or garden views from the balconies or terraces.
Fancy your very own slice of beach? Nab one of the exclusive villas with direct access to the beautiful sand and the turquoise sea.
Our fave excursion takes us down to the farm, no wellies required. Agreco Farm is the hotel’s very own smallholding, offering produce including olives and wine. Take a tour and then enjoya Cretan feast in the farm’s taverna.
EKIES ALL SENSES
The lowdown A laid-back resort for sun-seeking free spirits.
Best for Family-friendly relaxation in a beautiful natural environment.
As you pad about barefoot, surrounded by green pine and olive trees, wooded slopes and crystal-blue sea, you can exhale and swap obsessive inbox-refreshing for a slower pace of life. Ekies is dedicated to easy living, with a carefree vibe – the most effort you’ll expend is climbing into a hammock. Owner Alexandra Efstathiadou used to stay here as a child, stepping in to buy the ruined former hotel and work her magic to make her vision of the perfect Greek holiday a reality. Take a dip in the palm-fringed pool, or chill out at the open-air eco spa while the kids play in the on-site playground. If you’re feeling adventurous, wander to one of the unspoilt beaches nearby or hike into the surrounding forest for some back-to-nature escapism.
Design-wise, expect an eclectic mix of rooms from minimalist all-white to more playful flashes of colour and pattern. Eco-friendly materials have been used throughout, from non-toxic paints to Coco-Mat mattresses. Pine Suites offers a large open-plan living and sleeping area suitable for two adults and one child, with a private garden and plunge pool. For larger families, Evergreen Suites sleeps groups of up to six guests.
Book itDouble rooms from £105
SANTORINI, CYCLADIC ISLANDS
The lowdown An intimate group of rooms carved into the cliff face.
Best for Gourmet cuisine and drop-dead-gorgeous views.
Take the picture-postcard trademark whitewashed houses of the Cyclades, give them a sleek finish with sharp lines and what do you get? A minimalist’s reinvention of classic Hellenic design and ‘ker-ching!’, you’ve hit the holiday jackpot. Plus, there’s that jaw-dropping view of Santorini’s volcanic caldera and clear,glittering blue water.
Every effort has been made at chic boutiquehot spot Grace Santorini to maximise that vista – breakfast served outside is a given in every single room and 19 of the 21 dwellings include their very own plunge pool on the terrace.
Santoro, the onsite restaurant is the jewel in Grace’s crown. ‘Santoro’ derives from the name of the island combined with the Latin ‘oro’, meaning gold, to pay homage to the iconic golden sunsets. These you can drink in along with your glass of wine with dinner alfresco on the open terrace by the infinity pool. The menu is a homage to the flavours of the Cycladic Islands, with regional ingredients sourced from local producers – this is the cooking of Greek villages artfully translated into a fine dining experience.
SERIFOS, CYCLADIC ISLANDS
The lowdown Luxurious beach-front apartments informer 1900s-era miners’ houses.
Best for Authentic Greek island hospitality away from the crowds.
On the hunt for an unspoiled destination that ticks the all-important boxes – beautiful beaches, great food and very few tourists? We almost don’t want to share the secret of Coco-Mat on Serifos: a collection of 13 spacious, sophisticated split-level apartments in what were once, at the turn of the last century, traditional workers’ dwellings.
We’re talking rustic luxe done with cool aplomb – all earth tones and natural textures with an industrial edge. Throw open the painted shutters and let the bright sunshine wash over your apartment’s whitewashed stone walls and polished-concrete floors.
Set on sandy Vagia beach, one of the island’s best, there are views of the sparkling Aegean Sea from every apartment.
Small and perfectly formed, you won’t need more than 35 minutes to travel to even the remotest spots on the island by car. Swap four wheels for two and jump on one of the resort’s bikes (note to self: hills are involved), or do nothing more than work through your holiday reads on a day bed on the beach. Can’t be bothered to move? Stay there for a sleep-out under the stars. Heaven.
Shining a spotlight on the now and the next in home design and decor, Livingetc is the UK's best selling high end and contemporary home design magazine. As a brand, Livingetc showcases the world's very best homes, breaks and makes the trends, and has access to leading international designers for insight and ideas. It was first published in 1998, and is currently edited by Pip Rich.
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