“Secluded stone cottages with stylish interiors, tucked among gnarled olive trees a pebble's throw from Kardamyli's lovely beach (each sleeps 2-5)”
Here you sleep among the 'elies' - the olives. Stavros has built 24 pretty stone cottages among the sun-dappled, oleander-speckled groves, within sound of the sea: life doesn't get much sweeter than this. Some are open-plan studios, others have a separate bedroom, a few have 2; some are single storey, others double, these getting the sea views. All are built of natural materials and blend seamlessly into their surroundings.
The feel is light and airy, the decor crisp and fresh. Walls are pastel or white, floors are pine, rafters are limewashed, lighting is subtle. Each cottage has its own personality, part dictated by the colours: sofas may be cherry red, cream or striped blue; kitchen units could be canary yellow or burnt orange. The attention paid to the detailing is exceptional - Italian brushed steel lamps, cool white circular basins, German chrome toasters and kettles. Muslin hangs at French windows, behind which lie shutters; there's air con for summer which doubles as heating (along with fireplaces) for out-of-season stays - but no radiator central heating.
Covered patios protect you from the sun and are furnished with canvas directors' chairs and painted metal tables.
One of the highlights of Elies is its restaurant. Not only is it a delight to be served at pretty tables under the olive trees - geraniums spilling from pots, gravel crunching underfoot - but the food is among the best we have sampled in the area. Wild greens, grilled meats and fish with aromatic herbs: it is fresh, flavoursome and liberally infused with the oils of Kalamata. The only proviso is that the restaurant is shut in winter, and closes around 6pm in shoulder season (typically April-May and Sept-Oct); but if you want to preorder your dinner, Fani and Stavros will bring it to your room any time until 9pm - chosen from the lunch menu, and without any irritating room-service charge.
There's also a boho-chic bar for cocktails and espressos, and a winter dining room with high rafters.
For breakfast, you can prepare your own in your kitchen or, in season, pay extra for the hotel's delicious spread of fruit salad, fresh OJ, creamy yoghurt and more. Kitchens are reasonably well equipped (toaster, kettle, cafetiere, hob, fridge) but they don't have ovens, microwaves or dishwashers.
As for dining out, you're spoiled for choice in Kardamyli, 10-15 mins' gentle walk away: beachfront Gialos is the nearest (and recommended), Kiki's has authentic home fare, while Lela's boasts an unrivalled seaside setting.
You'll find a couple of small but well-stocked supermarkets at the entrance to Kardamyli, plus a butcher and a baker in the village, and several roving fishmonger vans.
Children of all ages are welcome and this is a great place to stay, especially with older, outdoorsy kids. Though stony, the beach here is safe (no tides or currents, though occasionally an undertow when wavy), and there are sandy beaches 10km away in Stoupa. Greeks are always very welcoming to children, and it is considered a safe country for them to play alone. It's a 3.5 hour drive from Athens, so plan a stop en route - and stay for at least a week to make it worth it.
Extra beds or cots for children under 3 are free; older children are free if using existing bedding (including sofabeds), otherwise there is a small charge if an extra bed is needed (but often it won't be).
Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Our pick of the bunch are the larger maisonettes, which sleep up to 5 in 2 bedrooms (one double upstairs, one twin downstairs, both ensuite).
Babysitting available by arrangement
If you want to use a baby monitor while dining in their restaurant, ask for one of the cottages closest to it. You need to bring your own monitor.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The restaurant serves fresh Greek food which should go down a treat with youngsters. Discuss any special requirements before arrival. The cottage kitchens are basic but there's enough kit for a simple family meal and you can buy local and fresh food to stock the fridge in the village. Local tavernas are, as with the majority of Greek places, happy to welcome children.
There are some steps and balconies; if you're concerned, request a ground-floor apartment or studio. Bring any special provisions with you - you won't find any huge hypermakets nearby.