BanSala

near Koroni, Peloponnese, Greece Book from Book from £109 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 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, 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) - this is a couples’ retreat
  • 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 perhaps a touch clinical (not many soft touches) but we found them chic and comfy - and spotlessly clean
  • Under new ownership in 2018, though we're assured that standards will remain as high as ever

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)
  • Open all year
  • 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 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

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 19 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

Really fantastic place - peaceful, quiet, villas are lovely - well equipped and comfortable. Lovely bar area and pool. Plenty of sun loungers. Lyn is an absolutely wonderful host - friendly, informative - nothing is too much trouble. Will definitely be back and would certainly recommend.

9/10,

Wonderful attention to detail from a fresh fruit drink on arrival to candles on the terraces at night. The discreet cleaning and tidying was very welcome. Lovely and very well maintained gardens. Wonderful views across the bay and we were treated to a lightening storm one night on the wild hills of the mani peninsula opposite. We enjoyed touring the area exploring the forts and beaches. Thank you bansala for such a special place to return to each evening.

10/10,

We had a wonderful, relaxing stay at Bansala. Lynn and Peter were very welcoming and helpful throughout our stay. The villa was spotless, with a well-equipped kitchen. We enjoyed spending time at the beaches and restaurants within a 10 minute walk from Bansala, as well as relaxing by the pool with one of Lynn's delicious cocktails. In fact, it was so blissful and romantic here we got engaged during our stay!

10/10,

Peter and Lynn were lovely, friendly hosts and looked after us incredibly well. We particularly enjoyed an Aperol Spritz overlooking the incredible view. It would have been useful to know that Easyjet fly to Kalamata on Tues and Thurs. We ended up flying from Athens but could have got on the return flight from Kalamata which would have been much easier.

10/10,

Bansala came highly recommended by our daughter and son in law and it didn’t let us down. It was a perfect escape from the stresses of normal life and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there.. From the moment we touched down at Kalamata airport, we felt at home in what is an unspoilt part of Greece with a pace of life to match. The villa had everything we wanted and was furnished to a very high standard. We relaxed immediately, with the help of the lovely pool, and were very well looked after. The food at the local restaurants was good and authentic too. Overall, we highly recommend a stay at Bansala with our only regret that we didn’t book longer than a week.

10/10,

We have travelled widely and stayed in many different places around the world - our stay here was outstanding - we could fault nothing - from the excellent service, accommodation, view (stunning!), grounds, location. It was one of our most perfect holidays - nothing was too much trouble for Lynn or Peter who were always on hand with advice on the area and tips on what to do - to making our favourite Mojito for an early evening tipple! We would return in a heartbeat and frankly two weeks was not enough!

10/10,

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,

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,

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,

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,

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Rates for BanSala