Apologies to any Marvel comic book fans who landed here to discuss Hydra, the fictional terrorist organisation in Captain America. Here at House of Coco we are more interested in another Hydra, one of the most naturally beautiful islands in Greece. And our recommended boutique base for your stay there: the Phaedra hotel.
Arriving into Hydra on the catamaran is a feast for the eyes. The port is postcard perfect with blue and white fishing boats bobbing next to luxury yachts, traditional tavernas lining the seafront, tiny cobbled alleys rising up to the town, all framed by mountains smattered with green.
Slipping from the bustling waterfront into the backstreets, the pace of life falls back a notch. Bougainvillea blooms on whitewashed houses and the odd local passes slowly, clutching a round of bread from the bakery.
As the now-familiar bougainvillea flowers loom around the corner for the third time, we admit we are lost. As beautiful as Hydra is, these backstreets are a rabbit warren and no street has a name. Following a stray cat in the hope that it will lead us to our destination, we happen upon the Phaedra Hotel and are immediately greeted by Hilda, the friendly owner.
We check into our room which is as Greek as can be. Wrought iron double bed, antique furnishings, shuttered windows and a little library of reading material. The design here is traditional without being chintzy. If you are looking for an authentic haven in the heart of Hydra, this is it.
Dragging myself from the perfect people-watching spot at the window, I head out to explore. For walkers and runners, Hydra is a dream. There are tons of trails both coastal and mountainous, and I opt for a ridiculously gorgeous walk by the sea with plenty of swimming stops in the crystal clear waters to cool off.
We spend the evening under the stars at Hydra’s outdoor cinema and go local with Greek mezze, crispy courgette fritters, tzatziki and chicken gyros for dinner. A special mention to the most divine patisserie in town: Karamela. Honestly the chocolate cookies and banoffee pie here are decadent.
Speaking of food, we take a late breakfast at the Phaedra. Hot coffee and freshly squeezed kiwi juice are served with eggs, local cheese, croissants, feta pies, fresh peaches and chunky cinnamon cookies. To add to the homey feel, everything is served by Hilda, who provides tips for the day ahead and shares her infectious enthusiasm for the island.
She tells us about the best times to visit: at Easter which is seriously celebrated in Hydra, with fireworks and a Harbourside ‘burning of Judas’, for the Miaoulia Festival at the end of June where a naval battle is re-enacted and the town erupts in Greek dancing, and, for those looking for a real escape, come in low season. Many beach bars and restaurants might shut up shop but Hydra in winter is a real slice of Greek life, and unlike the majority of hotels here, the Phaedra stays open year-round.
Crete, Rhodes, Mykonos…on the Greek island hit list, Hydra doesn’t usually get a look in. But for a welcome that feels like home and unrivalled Instagram fodder, we would recommend adding it to your list. And #TeamCoco are not the first fans of the island. The late Leonard Cohen spent his 20s here in the 60s, writing, performing and taking inspiration from its magic. We challenge you to leave without feeling inspired.
For more information, check out www.phaedrahotel.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.