“A simple but lovingly run guesthouse, plus 2 gorgeous little cottages, on the idyllic tiny island of Kastellorizo”
The 5 simple but pretty rooms in the guesthouse have everything you truly need and nothing you don't: comfy twin beds (which can be pushed right together for gapless doubles), a wardrobe, small fridge and standing fan instead of A/C (there are good breezes too). The tiny but serviceable bathroom has a curtained shower with good hot water but no toiletries. Two large and lovely first-floor rooms have an additional daybed - extremely comfy, as our son can attest; while the top floor family suite is divided into a twin bedroom for the kids, a boxy double for mum and dad (note that the bed is only 1.4m wide), and a separate kitchen. With their cream-painted floorboards and yellow walls offset by sea-blue window frames, it all feels quintessentially Greek. Spotless surfaces and loving touches - a lattice of shells, sun-bleached fisherman's rugs - are proof of great TLC. All rooms have space for a small table and chairs for in-room DIY breakfasts.
Monika and Damien have also resuscitated an ancient fisherman's cottage (sleeps 2), 5 minutes' walk away in the sheltered harbour of Mandraki, ideal for a couple on a week's break. It's one row back from the quay, but you can still glimpse the sea from the balcony. Downstairs is a cool, dark living-kitchen area with table and chairs, gas hob, fridge and sofabed. Shelves are lined with novels and crockery, there are hand-painted model boats on the mantelpiece, an ecclesiastical icon cabinet in the corner. The small bathroom has a tub in a blue-tiled alcove. Upstairs, the airy double/twin bedroom has a chandelier hanging from wooden beams and a window in each direction: perfect for lazy lie-ins. A small walled garden has sunloungers and a shower for post-swim rinses.
They also manage a second cottage, Kallisto (sleeps 2-4), which is similar in style and location, but with larger terraced gardens, a second toilet/shower, air-conditioning upstairs and down, and a double sofabed for kids in the sitting room (comfy, but it might be a bit of a squeeze for a week).
Finally, 2 studio apartments lie a minute's walk from the harbour, up cobbled lanes. Couples with an older child should grab the upstairs one. From the sage-green double bedroom, 3 windows look out over the harbour (low sills mean no toddlers); a second bedroom with French bed leads through to a small interior kitchen and simple white-tiled shower room. The downstairs apartment is similar but without the extra bed or the views. A small tiered garden bursts with pink dogrose, oleander and bougainvillea; you can sunbathe beneath a fig tree. Be prepared for visiting cats and barking dogs, though.
The guesthouse rooms come with a small fridge, a kettle, a few plates and mugs, cutlery and a round blue table with café chairs. It's enough for simple DIY breakfasts or Greek-salad-lunches (there's a mini-supermarket a minute's walk away); and if you prefer there's a walled, geranium-specked garden outside the front door where you can eat under the shade of a fig tree.
The 2 studios and the cottages have kitchenettes with gas hob, mini-oven (no microwave), fridge, sink and enough implements for breakfast and simple dinners: saucepans, kettle and coffee machine, colander, chopping boards, teapot, eggcups, that sort of thing.
Otherwise head to Monika and Damien's Olive Garden Restaurant near the harbourfront: just follow the smell of barbecuing and look for the rubber tree. Imaginative salads (rocket, shaved parmesan and sun-dried tomato; or artichoke and potato) and meaty mains draw from the owners' combined Greek, German and Australian heritage. There's pork fillet in feta sauce, goat in the oven, grilled sausages, as well as a small selection of seafood.
But for the catch of the day, stroll down to one of the dozen eateries lining the harbour; inspect their display cabinets, double check the price and take a pew literally on the water's edge. We had a fantastic sargos (sea bream) and a satisfying 20-euro lobster at Billy's, along with chickpea fritters, chunky tomato and cucumber salad, chips dunked in tzatziki, and decent white wine out of a copper jug.
This would be a great adventure for parents with children of 5 and over. The island is practically car-free, and fills with multi-national families during the summer holidays, so that the harbour becomes one big playground. The sea is warm from May-October, and with boat trips to sea caves and deserted islands, there's no shortage of excitement... so long as the kids can swim! Be aware that there are no sandy beaches on the island, and that the accommodation has no equipment for children besides a baby cot.
Children (4-12 years)
The family suite in the guesthouse is designed for parents with 2 children, and is excellent value, though space is limited. For more space, book Kallisto cottage - though bear in mind that children will have to sleep on a double sofabed in the sitting room, and that there are some unprotected drops. The upstairs studio apartment is perfect for parents with one older child; the guesthouse rooms are ideal for parents with one younger child (or on a tighter budget), using the daybed.
There is only a small health centre on the island (no hospital). Staircases are steep.