BanSala

near Koroni, Peloponnese, Greece Book from Book from £121 per night

A blissful sanctuary above sandy beaches: 5 cottages with shared pool, lawned gardens and super helpful owner
OK, I’ll come straight out with it. This is one of my favourite places in mainland Greece: an immaculate Aegean-meets-Oriental sanctuary with 5 pared-down cottages for 2, set in colourful lawned gardens with a sea-facing pool. There’s a laid-back bar where you can get iced coffees during the day or wines and cocktails at sunset - with cheerful local advice from owner John thrown in for free. The cottages are otherwise self-catering, with kitchens and indoor/outdoor sitting areas; lovely for breakfast or snacky lunches. Best of all, it’s just 3 minutes to a secluded sandy beach, and 10 minutes’ drive to gorgeous, castle-crowned Koroni, with its handsome pastel houses and waterfront tavernas.

I love this prong of the Peloponnese, with its shimmering olive groves, idyllic coves, Venetian castles (don’t miss Methoni) and untrodden antiquities (ancient Messene springs to mind). If you can grab a flight into Kalamata - 40 minutes away - do it; otherwise it’s 3 hours’ spectacular drive from Athens or Patras. The only issue for parents is that they don’t accept children under 14, but we fully intend to turn that to our advantage and drop ours with grandparents, to enjoy a restorative week in one of Greece’s loveliest - yet least discovered - coastal corners.

Highs

  • The gardens are blissful - terraced lawns and vivid red bottle-brush trees merging seamlessly into silvery olive groves
  • The cottages are cleverly designed, with compact but well-equipped kitchens, mosquito-netted windows and secluded terraces for alfresco dining
  • Local beaches are wonderfully empty, especially outside July-August
  • We loved the thoughtful extras - pool and beach towels, local guidebooks, delicious mezes in the fridge in case you’re hungry on arrival
  • If you tire of the 2 local beaches, it’s only a short drive to the astonishing horse-shoe sands of Voidokilia, the lagoon of Pylos or the windsurfers’ paradise of Memi

Lows

  • Not a place for nightlife or trendy shopping; instead you get the buzz of cicadas and a village taverna with tables in the church yard
  • Don't expect hotel-level service: this is essentially self-catering, with a friendly owner on hand
  • No children under 14 accepted

Best time to go

BanSala is normally open from the beginning of May to the end of October. We came in mid May and found it perfect for a tranquil off-season break, with seas just warm enough for a dip, meadows full of spring flowers, and none of the rains that were affecting other parts of Greece. September and October would be equally magical, we suspect. July and August would be busier of course, but with only 5 cottages and plenty of garden space, not to mention a wide choice of beaches nearby, you won't feel crowded.

Our top tips

  • Buy a copy of the 2019 Sunflower guide to the Southern Peloponnese (full disclosure: I wrote it), which contains a selection of my favourite local hikes short and long, as well as other excursions
  • If you're coming for the nightlife and poolside buzz, think again: this is a tranquil place aimed mainly at an older clientele, with a few pre-baby 30-somethings and happy honeymooners to mix it up

Great for...

Beach
Cheap & Chic
Great Outdoors
Romantic
  • Boutique Cottages
  • 5 cottages
  • Self-catering (breakfast on request + restaurants nearby)
  • Over 14s only (unless renting whole property)
  • Closed: November to April
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

The 5 cottages are nearly identical in layout, with a living area (including sofa bed, fireplace, kafeneion table and small kitchen) separated from the bedroom by a 3/4 height wall so as to maintain a sense of airiness. Off these is a shower room with spoiling towels and gels; outside is a shaded sitting area where, in truth, you’ll spend much more of your time. Most have views rolling down to the sea; one is tucked at the back, facing olive groves.

The style is more Cycladic than Peloponnesian, by which I mean white walls with a smattering of colour, bamboo-lined ceilings and flat roofs (apart from one lovely pitched-roof cottage overlooking the pool). Expect a uniform and functional design: long cream wardrobes, white-tiled floors, mosquito-netted windows in the bedroom, sliding glass doors in the living area. John's wife Maddy plans to add some softer and more homely touches over time. The kingsize bed is very comfy (A/C keeps you cool in midsummer), the shower reliable and strong - as is the WiFi signal. Sofa beds can be set up in the living rooms if you're bringing the teens (must be over 14).

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Coffee / tea making
  • DVD player
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob or stove
  • Mosquito net
  • Oven
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • TV
  • WiFi

Eating

Each cottage has a newly-refitted kitchenette with fridge, full oven with ceramic/glass cooktop range, pots and pans, kettle and toaster, chopping boards and knives, cafetiere and teapot, corkscrew and scissors, candles and more. It's certainly more than adequate for preparing breakfast or a light lunch, which you can enjoy on your patio, looking out to a blue strip of sea while the breeze rustles the palm and oleander leaves. For supplies, there are shops and supermarkets within 3km.

There's no shortage of eateries nearby, including a couple by Peroulias beach (10 mins' walk or a short drive) and a simple taverna up in the village of Vounaria (a similar distance). Handsome harbour town Koroni (10 mins' drive) has a string of fish tavernas on the waterfront: Angelianos served us a tasty seafood soup with chunks of scorpion fish, oregano-crusted toast, crunchy salad and local wine, for 10 Euros each. On our last visit, we enjoyed a delicious supper at O Nikos hidden away in Vassilitsi village: home-cooked Greek staples served indoors or on the patio.

If you're feeling lazy at breakfast, John and the team will bring a 'Breakfast Package' to your cottage - perhaps yoghurt, , muesli and seasonal fruit (apricots, peaches, kiwis, maybe strawberries). It's particularly handy on your first morning, and very fairly priced). They also serve daytime drinks - coffees of various types, freshly squeezed orange juice and an assortment of wines and cocktails.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Wander down to their secluded sandy cove (5 minutes), with its safe, sun-warmed waters; or further along the coast to Peroulia beach (10-15 minutes), where a few loungers and eateries fringe the endless soft sands
  • Explore the pretty town of Koroni (10 minutes' drive), with its close-packed, pastel-painted houses spilling down from a clifftop Venetian castle to a fishing harbour lined with bobbing boats
  • Beyond lie the beaches of Memi and Zagas, perfect for wind- and kite-surfing
  • Drive to the Homeric town of Pylos, set on the Navarino lagoon beneath another hulking castle; shuttle boats will take you to Golden Beach and the stunning horseshoe bay of Voidokilia, from where you can hike up to Nestor's Cave and a Mycenaean beehive tomb
  • Stop at ancient Messene, with its stunningly preserved 2300-year-old city walls, theatre and temples; allow at least an hour
  • Escape into the rolling olive and citrus groves on horseback (a lovely German lady has stables at Hrani) or on foot (ask about the walk to the river pools of Polilimnes)
  • Rent a 5-metre dinghy with an outboard motor and canopy for some lazy fishing, or a day trip to stunning Sapi cove
  • Go sailing from Ayios Andreas: the Greek skipperess and her yacht can even take you across to the Mani (middle peninsula), winds permitting
  • Don't miss Methoni, a lovely laid-back town with 2 sandy beaches and the crowning glory of all Venetian castles

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Kitesurfing
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Windsurfing

Kids

For older children, sofa beds can be set up in the living rooms of some cottages. Children under 14 are not accepted - unless of course you take over the whole place (some of the cottages can then sleep up to 3), in which case you could have a whale of a time, sleeping independently but coming together for breakfast (and perhaps lunch) at the pool bar, not to mention beach and castle trips by day. As there are no full-time staff on the premises, you would need to keep an eye on the children - especially near the unprotected drops by the pool and car park - and have a sensible adult-to-child ratio.

Kid Friendly:

Location

BanSala is in the Messinia region of the southern Peloponnese, about 9km north of Koroni and 40km southwest of Kalamata. It's about 3 hours' drive from Athens, and a little less from Patras.

By Air:
Kalamata (35km) has some direct flights (mostly charters) from the UK and other European countries, as does Patras (210km). Athens (295km) has a much wider range of scheduled flights. Click on the links below for a list of airlines.

From the Airports
From Kalamata airport you could get a taxi, but realistically you will want a hire car to explore the area and buy supplies etc - see our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com

More on getting to Greece and getting around

Airports:

  • Kalamata 35.0 km KLX
  • Athens 295.0 km ATH

Other:

  • Beach 0.2 km
  • Shops 0.5 km
  • Restaurant 0.5 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 25 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
10/10
Overall

John was an excellent host and keen to ensure you got as much as possible out of your stay. He told us of two very nice restaurants to try which were excellent and helpful with other suggestions of places to stop on our trips exploring the area.

9/10,

We had a wonderful week at Bansala. Dreamily beautiful views, very comfortable and thoughtfully equipped villa, delicious mezze and breakfast to welcome us and the perfect small and empty beach just a short walk away. John was welcoming and very helpful with excellent suggestions for restaurants and places to visit.

10/10,

Aa very comfortable room, with a lovely view, excellent hosts and a great location.

10/10,

We loved our stay at Ban Sala - so much so we would like to book for next year. John was the perfect host and the attention to detail was spot on. As well as the great facility offered at BanSala, it is also walking distance to a great sandy beach,

10/10,

We’ve just had the most relaxing, perfect stay. The studios are really well designed including a great kitchen- good enough to prepare meals if needed. We stayed in 1 studio and our teens in another . The views and peace and relaxation are out of this world. John was a perfect host - on hand and helpful. The beach directly below the rooms ( less than 5 mins walk) was amazing- incredible water and in August only a handful of others ever there with us. I’m sure we will be back.

10/10,

Absolutely stunning. The cottage was excellent, with everything that we could have needed. The attractive setting of the gardens and the lovely pool mean you never have to leave BanSala. The location was beautiful and peaceful, with incredible views across the shimmering sea. Vounaria is a quiet, unspoilt village, that is an excellent base from which to explore the many beaches and other attractions of the peninsula. Finally, the care and personal attention for every guest from John, the owner, made this a very special place to stay. We certainly plan to return.

10/10,

We stayed at Ban Sala and absolutely loved it , 5/5 for all those categories. Even though technically they didn’t provide meals other than breakfast (which was delicious!) there was an endless steam of snacks for us while we were lazing by the pool especially fresh figs from their tree, which was really kind and added so much to the ambiance. We went with our three adult children and it was the most luxurious, comfortable, enjoyable holiday we have had in a long time. Our hosts were super helpful right from when we booked and even let our son, who had been traveling for a while, use their laundry facilities without extra charge. The rooms were beautifully done out, every comfort - the only thing I suggested to John was about ceiling fans but they had aircon so we were completely comfortable - that was just me being ‘environmentally friendly'. We loved every minute and we would definitely return.

10/10,

We had such a lovely stay at BanSala. The rooms, pool and amenities were all perfect. It has the feeling of a high star resort but much more relaxed, quiet and private. Maddalena & John were fantastic hosts. They had so many suggestions for some lovely places to go and visit. They were always available to help out and were very friendly.

10/10,

We had a wonderful stay at Bansala - Maddelena & Joao are excellent hosts, we can't wait to visit again!

9/10,

I would never usually consider returning to the same place but Ban Sala is the delightful exception. John is an excellent host, dispensing refreshments and local advice with friendly enthusiasm. The view from both our room and terrace was quite spectacular. Its extraordinary to find such a quiet and beautiful place just a 45 minute drive from the airport.

10/10,

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Rates for BanSala

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