Friends of mine have been going to Mykonos for years and always return raving about it. In fact, they love the island so much that I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about.
Mykonos has lots to offer: lovely hotels, great beaches, classical Greek architecture, good shopping (the new Hermes shop opened the day I arrived – dangerous!), delicious food and some of the best bars and clubs in Greece.
When you stroll along the white washed pathways around town in the evening, in fact, you will easily get lost, but don’t worry too much; this just so happens to be a great way to discover the great hidden restaurants and bars. I recommend trying such places then and there, however, since you might never discover them again. In fact, this was how we found a taverna on our first night in Mykonos that served some fabulous Greek wine and the most delicious souvlaki!
After that first meal, we set off to discover some great places to dance the night away. Babylon and Jackie O’s down on the waterfront recently opened and are both great spots. Just be careful not to sit in the chairs backing the sea wall if it is windy – you will most certainly get splashed!
When you grow tired of partying (or simply need some rest in between dancing sessions), Mykonos has many great places to stay, all within a short distance of the Town. Cavo Tagoo, just a five minute drive away, is funky, hip, and overlooks the new harbor. Its infinity pool is amazing, where day beds appear to be floating on the water.
The rooms and stunning suites are built on the side of the mountain and provide great views over the sea, with Mykonos town to your left and Agios Stefanos to your right. The site of the hotel used to be an old quarry and the owner (also an architect) has incorporated many elements of the rock face into the building, especially in the Spa. General Manager Anastasios Didimiotis told me that they hope to expand the Spa for the 2011 season and add more treatment rooms. The bar deserves a special mention, by the way. It is parallel to the pool and has an aquarium running through the center of it – great fun to watch the fish swimming along whilst sipping one’s Caipiroska!
On an island with only 31 taxi’s, it can be tricky to hail one at times, so staying actually in town can have its advantages – the Belvedere Hotel would be my number one choice for a chic city stay. Tassos Ioannidis and his brother Nikolas have done a fantastic job of combining understated elegance with a contemporary twist. The hotel has a good size pool area with staggered terraces, some of which enable you to see over the rooftops. At night the pool area is transformed into a fun and funky bar, with large white sofas. This is the place to go for drinks. And while we’re on the subject of drinks, Dale de Groff, the inventor of the Cosmopolitan Martini, has created 7 special cocktails for The Belvedere Bar. You must try at least one! Delicious. And for an exceptional dinner you don’t have to go far as the hotel is home to Matsuhisa Mykonos, the Greek island outpost of Nobu. But be warned: you need to book well in advance.
If you prefer a more relaxed, quieter location, then Ornos Bay has two fabulous hotels to choose from. One of these is the beautiful Santa Marina Resort & Villas, a member of The Luxury Collection, which is at the end of the peninsula enabling it to have a very unique feature for Mykonos: a private beach. The Bayview Bar and Taverna overlooks the 150m sandy beach and it serves the most delicious locally caught seafood. I highly recommend the octopus.
Whilst I loved The Bayview, if someone asked me where the best spot for breakfast was on the island, I would have to say that it is at the pool restaurant at Santa Marina. You can relax on large sofas beside the pool, enjoy freshly baked breads and gaze out to sea watching the yacht’s sail past. Incredibly idyllic – even if some diners might be nursing a headache from the night before!
Santa Marina has so much to offer its guests: tranquil gardens, a chapel for weddings and its own windmill. It is altogether very spacious – so you can always find a peaceful spot for yourself. The hotel has a number of stunning suites and villas which are very secluded and have their own pools, so perfect for families or people who like their privacy! In fact, a few list celebrities (sadly, I have promised not to name them) have made good use of these during the past season.
At the other side of Ornos Bay is Kivotos, a smaller property with just 40 rooms and suites. I love how the Michopoulous family have combined traditional Mykonian architecture with cool contemporary twists. In my suite, for example, there were Philippe Starck Ghost chairs, lighting over the bar that randomly changed color, and a stunning lime green Florence Knoll day bed, which all contrasted really beautifully with the white walls. And I must mention the Presidential Suite, Noah’s Villa. It is truly unique, built over three floors and providing sea views from all rooms. This is what I imagine living in your own little Greek house would be like. (Pictured: Kivotos’ Director of Sales and Marketing, Fouli Micheli, and myself)
Kivotos guests can also make use of the stunning Prince de Neufchatel yacht, which is moored in the harbor in front of the hotel. It is a replica of a nineteenth-century warship from the US Navy and is able to sleep up to six guests in beautiful, stately bedrooms. The word Kivotos means ‘arc’ in Greek and I couldn’t help but think that if Noah’s arc had looked like this yacht does, there would have been a stampede to get on!
Mykonos is great fun, relaxing, luxurious, glamorous, trendy – oh, and that reminds me: Psarou Beach is the beach to be seen on. As far as beach clubs go, Nammos is your best bet, a place at which you simply must have lunch or dinner.
So all that’s left for me to do is thank my very good friends (you know who you are!) for getting me to give Mykonos a try!!!