Evia is the second largest island in Greece but is often overlooked as most tourists favour the smaller, more developed destinations. Just a two hour drive from Athens, Evia is more popular with the Greeks, as a quiet escape from busy city life on the mainland. Although Evia does not have an airport, it is easily reachable by road, and it is a scenic drive through the island.
Thalatta Seaside Hotel is located on the north-east side of Evia in a small fishing village called Agia Anna. The thoughtfully designed hotel has been open for seven years, but is so well kept that it appears new. The young owner has carefully chosen materials and features that complement the unspoilt natural surroundings. After a short stint in chaotic Athens, I felt my mood instantly calm as I stepped inside the stylish but simple hotel.
On the Greek islands the season most often starts in early May, so we were among the first of the year to be checked in. There are some advantages to picking low season for your Mediterranean holiday, we were lucky to be upgraded to the top Thalatta suite and relished the privacy and the chance to splash about in our very own swimming pool.
Our spacious suite had room enough for a whole family with a separate lower floor that we didn’t even use. The main open plan room was minimalist and comfortably decorated in muted shades of grey and green with plenty of natural light thanks to the floor to ceiling windows. Complementary wifi allowed me to work in the lounge area of the room, which also had a smart sofa and stylish rocking chair. The outdoor spaces included a small balcony overlooking the pool and large decking area which had enough sun loungers for a party of ten. The bathroom was functional with a powerful shower, though I found it quite dark and was disappointed not to find a bathtub.
We were incredibly well looked after during our stay at Thalatta, the staff were genuinely friendly and kindly assisted us with every need or desire. The lovely and knowledgeable Aris drove us around, explaining the local sites and talking to us about the Greek way of life. Dimitri, guest relations manager, is a fun and happy guy, always a pleasure to see and chat to around the property. I was also impressed with mixologist George and the charming Maître d’ who looked after us during mealtimes.
During the summer months there are various restaurant options, although these were limited during our stay in May. We ate breakfast and dinner each day at the main hotel restaurant, Asado. The set menu in the evenings showcased fresh local ingredients and traditional Greek dishes. The food tasted good and it was clear to see that the chef took pride in the plates he was sending out. The meat and fish courses were accompanied with delicious, refreshing local white wine. I will definitely be looking out for Greek wines back in London.
Our gourmet highlight was lunch on the beach at the hotel’s social seafood eatery, Meze. Here, with your feet in the sand, you can sample the freshest fish, grilled to perfection. We were presented with tender octopus and crispy battered calamari. We also tasted a range of vegetarian small dishes, typical Greek salad and moreish handcut chips.
Guests can choose to relax by the pool, or by the sea on the pebble beach. Pick a book from the clever beach library, craftily hidden within the wall. When we tired of sunbathing we took the hotel bicycles out for a ride along the beach and into the quaint nearby village. We also took an afternoon trip with Aris to see some sights on the island. First stop was Drimona Waterfall where we swam in crystal clear waters. Next we saw the 16th century chapel in the Monastery of St David, up the hills and surrounded by goats – it was a mesmerising place to experience. Finally a quick stop in Limni town, a favourite with tourists in summer.
On a cooler evening we visited the boutique Life spa at the hotel. Here the wellness team look after you, tending to all your pampering requirements. We enjoyed a thorough body massage which used different massage techniques to de-stress each muscle in the body, relieving tension and strain. The therapist worked relentlessly on my back and shoulders to knead out the persistent knots, and left my body feeling much more balanced. There is also a gym and hair salon should you need it.
We left Thalatta by boat, setting sail across the tranquil sea to visit the island of Skiathos. The hotel is able to arrange a variety of day trips aboard this stunning sail boat, allowing guests to see another aspect of Greece’s natural beauty.
Thalatta Seaside Hotel (www.Thalattahotel.gr, +30 210 3615844) offers 5 nights in a Superior Sea View Room on a B&B basis from £575, (based on 2 people sharing).