BanSala

near Koroni, Peloponnese, Greece Book from Book from £129 per night

A blissful couples' 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 likeable Lyn and her brother Peter 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, 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
  • Having lived in Sri Lanka and Thailand (hence the hotel’s name), Lyn has captured that graceful intelligence that fixes everything before you realise you need it
  • 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) - this is firmly a couples’ retreat
  • If you’re hatching plans for a winter escape, you’ll be disappointed - it closes from November to May
  • Not a place for nightlife, boutiques or chilled tunes by the pool; instead you get the buzz of cicadas and a village taverna with tables in the church yard
  • The cottage interiors are still perhaps a bit soulless - bare white walls, tiled floors - but Lyn intends to soften that with wafting curtains and local art
  • With the opening of a new resort in the village above, the beaches may get a bit more crowded - but they’re still pretty empty outside July-August

Best time to go

BanSala is normally open from mid May to end 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 for 2
  • Self-catering (breakfast on request + restaurants nearby)
  • Over 14s only (unless renting whole property)
  • Closed: 25 May 2017 - 26 May 2017
  • 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, 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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dvd player
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob 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 matches... In short, everything you'd expect from eagle-eyed Lyn. 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. Lyn can tell you her favourites, or take pot luck - 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 a head.

If you're feeling lazy at breakfast, Lyn 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). She also serves daytime drinks - her iced watermelon crush is already legendary - and mixes a mean G&T at sunset.

Features include:

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

Activities

  • Wander down to the secluded sandy cove (5 minutes), with its safe, sun-warmed waters; or further along the coast to endless 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, not to mention people-watching and tan-topping (though in all honesty none of the beaches round here get very busy)
  • 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
  • Nearby Yialova has some lovely cafés, boutiques and a day spa, while the resort of Costa Navarino has 2 fabulous waterside golf courses (1 hour's drive)
  • 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 (Lyn can recommend short circular walks, including the waterfalls and 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 (EUR 90/day in 2014)
  • 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

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:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 14 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Rooms
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

This is such a lovely tranquil haven in which to relax and unwind. We arrived at Ban Sala, having taken a taxi from Kalamata airport. Our stay, during the last week of September, was perfect: still pleasantly warm, but delightfully quiet and end of season-ish. The earlier reviewers have already said it all. We had everything we needed in a compact little villa, further up the slope (with yellow coordination - down to the mugs, bath-mat and bed cover!). We loved the pool and particularly enjoyed having it to ourselves, swimming before breakfast most days. The view from the pool offered some spectacular sunrises, enhanced by the sea and distant landscape, making it very special. Lyn, Hugo and Peter were all so kind and helpful, always going the extra mile: on our first morning Hugo drove us to the nearest large supermarket, to help us get essential supplies. He also very kindly arranged for freshly baked bread to be delivered to our villa each morning - and found us an orange press so we could squeeze the local oranges and make our own delicious fresh juice. Our long leisurely breakfasts on one of our two private terraces, were a particular highlight. On another day, Lyn drove us to Koroni, so we could explore the charming old town and get a more authentic sense of Greece (we returned to Vounaria via the efficient local bus service). Nothing was too much trouble, we had the feeling that if we'd asked them to shift the villa in front of ours to give us an unobstructed view of the sea and the Mani, they would have found a solution!

9/10, , September 2016

This is a real haven: we chose not to hire a car and this was the perfect place to hide away from the noise and bustle of life. Hugo is a joy - he goes above and beyond in terms of looking after his guests. Always a friendly word, and always happy to help. He is what makes this place so very special. We will return.

10/10, , August 2016

A truly wonderful place to stay - lovely studio apartment and shady terrace with breathtaking views and gorgeous pool. Hosts delightful people and most welcoming and attentive. Peurolia beach about a mile away a beautiful sandy beach and turquoise waters, plus excellent restaurant, not forgetting the simple but quite charming restaurant up the hill next to the church. Overall one of the best places we have been, loved it!

10/10, , September 2016

Hugo is a great host and worked hard. Great, well thought out venue. We liked the option of self catering. The new BA flight to Kalamata is excellent. Getting there is really easy. This is great place. The surroundings are perfect for relaxation but also loads to see and explore nearby. We had a really good week

10/10, , August 2016

This is an amazing place to come and be completely relaxed. It was so peaceful and beautiful, exactly what we needed. Wonderful villa, very well equipped - could find no fault! Perfect.

10/10, , August 2016

We had a wonderful stay at BanSala! Our little villa was spotless, well equipped and tastefully decorated. The terrace in particular was a lovely spot to relax and enjoy the sea views. The grounds were also beautifully maintained and the pool was just gorgeous - we stayed a week and had it to ourselves most days! The location was great - very peaceful but close to a small but pretty (and when we went, empty) beach as well as the main beach Peroulia. Having several tavernas within walking distance was also really convenient (our favourite was the very casual taverna at the top of the hill in the churchyard). Finally Hugo and Aline were excellent hosts - very attentive but never crossing the line into intrusive. We really appreciated little touches like being brought glasses of iced water whenever we were out by the pool. Aline also cooked a stunning meal for the guests on one night which was a real highlight. Overall a fantastic stay - highly recommended!

10/10, , June 2016

A wonderful week of relaxed chilled out time spent doing nothing but enjoying the views from BanSala and gently exploring this remote bit of the Peloponnese. Kalamata is a great town with a fabulous food market, worth the trip. <br>Also worth waking up early and enjoying the sunrise coming up over the mountains and a couple of hours of cool weather. Sleeping in the afternoon makes more sense! <br>Hugo and Aline are the most excellent hosts and made sure we wanted for nothing. They run a superb establishment, shame there are not more like this out there.

10/10, , July 2016

As seasoned Greece travellers we cannot fault BanSala. Divine, quiet location with easy access to sandy beaches and good tavernas. Accommodation is spotlessly clean, very comfortable with shaded patios and sea views. Gardens are beautifully maintained and the shared pool area is spacious with ample seating and loungers - even when all cottages were occupied it never felt crowded. Hosts Hugo and Aline were superb with their unique way of providing excellent service without being over-bearing. With many guests returning year after year, it is worth booking early to avoid disappointment - we have!

10/10, , June 2016

A little slice of heaven on earth! Lovely place and we were looked after very well.

9/10, , June 2016

Wonderful hosts, location, breakfast and drinks excellent. Great tips on restaurants/activities. Highly recommended.

10/10, , September 2015

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Rates for BanSala