BanSala

near Koroni, Peloponnese, Greece Book from Book from £124 per night

A blissful sanctuary above a sandy beach: 5 cottages with shared pool, lawned gardens and breakfast bar
OK, I’ll come straight out with it. This is my new favourite place in 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 are served wonderful fresh fruit and clay pots of yoghurt for breakfast, chilled white wines at sunset, and local advice in between (the cottages are otherwise self-catering, with small kitchens and indoor/outdoor sitting areas). Service from John and the team is just right; not 24/7 but there when you need it. 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 - you’re laughing; 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 and wine 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

  • All the cottages are double-bedded (no twins), though sofa beds can be set up in the living rooms
  • 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
  • The cottage interiors are perhaps a touch clinical, but we found them chic and comfy - and spotlessly clean
  • We haven't visited since the new owners took over in 2018, but we've heard glowing feedback

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 2014 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
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • Boutique Cottages
  • 5 cottages
  • Self-catering (breakfast on request + restaurants nearby)
  • Over 14s only (unless renting whole property)
  • Closed: 1 Nov 2018 - 30 Apr 2019
  • 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). It’s the smattering of colour that differentiates them: yellow, lime green or bright pink in the cushions on the sofa and the crockery on the shelf.

Otherwise, 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. 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 kitchen with fridge, mini-oven (with 2 rings and a grill), 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 a light lunch or supper, which you can enjoy on your shady patio, looking out to a blue strip of sea while the breeze rustles the palm and oleander leaves.

In your fridge you'll find a neat triptych of delicious mezzes - fresh Greek salad, maybe tzatziki and a vivid red pepper tapenade - along with rusks, Cretan wine, cake, fruit and a bottle of their own olive oil. It's typical of their generosity, and makes a lovely first supper or lunch. For more supplies, there are shops and supermarkets within 3km.

There's no shortage of eateries nearby, including a couple by Peroulias beach (10-15 minutes' walk) and a charming outdoor taverna-grill up in the village of Vounaria (a similar distance), whose tables sit in the shadow of the Byzantine church. For more choice, drive to handsome harbour town Koroni (10 minutes), where a string of fish tavernas line the waterfront. At Angelianos we enjoyed a delicious seafood soup with chunks of scorpion fish, oregano-crusted toast, crunchy salad and a carafe of wine, all for 10 Euros each.

If you're feeling lazy at breakfast, John will lay out a colourful spread of small dishes on a table near the pool - clay ramekins of yoghurt, fresh walnuts, muesli, home-stewed plums and seasonal fruit (apricots, peaches, kiwis, maybe strawberries). It's a glorious start to the day, and very handy on your first morning - the only danger being that you'll want it every day (but it's very fairly priced). They also serve daytime drinks - try the fantastic iced watermelon crush.

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 Peroulias beach (10-15 minutes), where a few loungers and eateries fringe the blond 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, extra 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 26 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

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,

A beautiful place with an amazing view and lovely pool.

9/10,

Our family party of four (two spotless villas) had a lovely quiet and restful holiday at BanSala. Maddalena and John could not have been more welcoming and helpful and the infinity pool is stunning. A great holiday in a still unspoilt area of Greece. But don't try and sightsee on a Monday - the castles are closed.

10/10,

Ban Sala is the perfect destination if you're looking for a relaxed, child-free holiday near the sea. Maddalena and Joao were wonderful hosts and the villa was perfect - had everything we needed with the most glorious views!

9/10,

Madellana & John are lovely hosts and very helpful. The apartment was very well presented, clean and had everything we needed. The pool was excellent - not chlorinated and just the right temperature with a view second to none. Bansala is very quiet and the perfect place to relax, and with nice bars and restaurants nearby.
The sandy beaches, which are very close by, are beautiful.
Unfortunately an electrical storm prior to our arrival meant there was no Wi-Fi or TV (during the World Cup) at our apartment, but other than this isolated issue, everything was perfect.

9/10,

Lovely to be in quiet spot but close to beach and eating out. Loved the restaurant at Peroulia, the little seafood place at the castle end of Koroni and the ice cream on the main street in Koroni. Amazing.

10/10,

We had an outstanding week at BanSala and would recommend it to anyone heading to Greece-spectacular views, stunning beaches, brilliant apartments beaten only by the hospitality of Maddalena and John who were very welcoming and helpful. We will be back!

10/10,

Lovely site with great pool and easy access to beach

9/10,

Excellent pool. Very good welcome and service.

9/10,

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