“A blissful sanctuary above sandy beaches: 5 cottages with shared pool, lawned gardens and super helpful owner”
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.
- 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
- 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
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
- 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
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
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).
- Air conditioning
- Coffee / tea making
- DVD player
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Mosquito net
- Safe box
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.
- Coffee / tea making
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Restaurants nearby
- 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
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Shopping / markets
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.
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.
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
- Kalamata 35.0 km KLX
- Athens 295.0 km ATH
- Beach 0.2 km
- Shops 0.5 km
- Restaurant 0.5 km