“A blissful sanctuary above sandy beaches: 5 cottages with shared pool, lawned gardens and breakfast bar”
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.
- 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
- 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
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
- 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). 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).
- Air conditioning
- Coffee / tea making
- DVD player
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Mosquito net
- Safe box
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.
- 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, 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.
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