We don’t know about you but here at House of Coco, Mykonos has us thinking of all-night parties, celebrities puffing on Cuban cigars and designer labels a-plenty. But when we sent our Greece-based writer, Rachael Lindsay, out to Mykonos, she was in for a surprise…
Having already checked out a few of Greece’s stunning islands, I must admit that I was a little sceptical about Mykonos. Because I thought Mykonos was all about clubs and dressing up. And don’t get me wrong, I love a glass of champagne and dancing till the wee hours as much as the next person. However, what I loved about Greek islands like Hydra and Spetses was the tranquillity, the Instagram-worthy sunsets and the hidden coves. I didn’t think I would find this peace on the party island of Mykonos.
I have these mixed feelings as I take the plane over from Athens, still of course looking forward to my luxurious base during the trip: the Mykonos Grand. One of the small luxury hotels of Greece and a winner of many Readers’ Choice Awards, the hotel is renowned for its romance and hospitality.
I am utterly speechless on arrival. Photos don’t do justice to this place. Built into a hill leading down to the sea, the design is inspired by the island of Mykonos itself, with tiny cobbled lanes winding to each floor and blue and white bringing calm to each space. The resort even boasts its own chapel, like a mini Greek village.
I expect opulence, but everything is light and airy and inspired by Greek tradition. Roman candles flicker in the lobby, making the wave-patterned floor mosaics glitter and wink. I am treated to a suite complete with two marble bathrooms, an enormous crisp white bed and a living room filled with treats. The fruit bowl overflows with strawberries and grapes alongside a glass bottle of the local mastic liquor, and the dvd menu is hugely extensive, making it far too tempting to cuddle up on the sofa and never venture out.
One of my favourite room features is the egg-shaped bath just below the double windows, and I spend far too many indulgent hours ocean-gazing whilst soaking in the bubbles. The bathroom also comes with a steam room facility in the walk-in shower, spreading the scents of the L’Occitane essential oils around the room. The whole experience leaves me feeling cleaner than clean, and very pampered.
When I finally drag myself from my haven of a room, the sun loungers around the pool and on the beach are equally inviting and the views just as picturesque. I enjoy a few lengths in the infinity pool before bracing the slightly rougher waves of the sea on the hotels’ private beach, and finish my spell in the outdoors with a dip in the jacuzzi. Naturally, this was all preparation for the spa.
The treatments inspired by Greek therapies can be enjoyed in the open-air, in a cabana facing the sea, or in the comfort of a treatment room. I opt for a detox massage, which continues the oceanic experience. It begins with a body mask of marine ingredients and I am left wrapped up for the minerals to do their work, stimulating the metabolism and moisturising the skin. This is followed by a calming full body massage to stimulate the lymphatic and vascular system. I am left feeling utterly relaxed and ready to climb into bed.
I awake early for a sunrise run, trusting the handy running map left in my room, and discover a tiny cove along a coastal path. This all challenges the idea I had of Mykonos as a party destination. So I hop on a bus to check out Mykonos Town, ready to see the Mykonos of champagne and glitter.
There are designer shops aplenty in the Old Town as well as lots of little bars lining the water (an excellent option for sundowners before hitting the clubs). But there are also the famous windmills reaching up the sky, hidden tavernas to be discovered, a port filled with fishing boats and wandering ducks and tumbledown buildings galore. A little glitz and glam, sure, but the town has managed to retain its heart of Greek traditions and a slower pace to life.
A candlelit dinner in the open-air is the only right way to end a day of pampering and exploration in Mykonos. I begin with a salmon tartare and a generous portion of langoustine risotto. The raw salmon bursts with citrus flavours and the risotto is creamy and filled with fresh prawns. A salad course follows and I opt for burrata in pesto, curiously paired with sticky Turkish delights. A fresh lobster is brought on a platter and served up with spaghetti for my main whilst for dessert I share a mouth-watering lemon mousse topped with crisped meringue. All of this is accompanied by a wine list filled with rich reds and light whites from both the mainland and Greek islands.
And I cannot talk about the Mykonos Grand without mentioning those long, lazy breakfasts, with the waiting staff greeting guests like old friends. Smoked salmon with Greek cheeses and breads, made-to-order eggs and homemade pastries and cakes are just the tip of the foodie iceberg. And the setting is literally mythical with views of the island of Delos in the distance, said to be the birthplace of Greek God, Apollo.
For me, Mykonos was a true oasis of calm. Yes I got what I asked for: tranquillity, Instagram-worthy sunsets and hidden coves. Yet I also found one of my favourite hotels in the world. Trust me, dear readers, Mykonos is far more than the party stereotype, especially if you choose the heavenly Mykonos Grand as your base.
For more information, visit mykonosgrand.gr.