Elies Hotel

Kardamyli, Peloponnese, Greece Book from Book from £97 per night

Secluded stone cottages with stylish interiors, tucked among gnarled olive trees a pebble's throw from Kardamyli's lovely beach (each sleeps 2-5)
With so much coastline in Greece, you'd think it would be easy to find a stylish little cottage by a secluded beach. But it's not. Most islands have rows of cheap identikit pensions, or a busy road between you and the water, or both. But this isn't an island; it's the southern Peloponnese, a 3-hour drive from Athens, way off the island-hoppers' radar. And the beach is pebbly (though the waters are gloriously clear). Both of which go some way to explain how there comes to be such a hidden gem on this lovely sweep of azure sea, fringed by those famous olive groves and backed by cloud-capped Mt. Taygetus.

But it doesn't explain the wonderful, unexpected, almost Scandinavian chic-ness of the interiors - pastel shades, gleaming kitchenettes, contemporary sofas, white-painted eaves and pure pine floors. That's down to owner Stavros' obsessive quest for the best: it took him 5 years to build the first 10 cottages, stone by stone, with another 14 completed later. He and wife Fani also run the taverna by the beach - which, unsurprisingly perhaps, is among the best in the region.

Highs

  • The privacy: tucked among shady olive groves, each cottage has a secluded terrace, some with glimpses of sea
  • It's 2-3 minutes' walk to plunge into some of the cleanest seas in the Med
  • If you don't feel like cooking, try Fani's superb Greek cuisine (and that will be the end of your self-catering)
  • We love the fantastic hiking trails behind Kardamyli - wild flowers, limestone gorges, snow-dusted peaks
  • The laid-back fishing village Kardamyli, 1km away, is a long-standing favourite: I've been coming regularly for over 20 years

Lows

  • It's hard to reach: a 3.5-hour drive from Athens airport or 1 hour from Kalamata airport (but flights to Kalamata are limited)
  • The beach is pebbly, but there are sandy beaches at nearby Stoupa for the kids
  • The restaurant can get a little busy with lunchers in summer
  • Outside summer, the restaurant closes at 6pm - but you can have food delivered to your cottage until 8 or 9pm
  • WiFi is not the most reliable in the cottages

Best time to go

April, May, late September and October are the ideal times, in our opinion: warm but rarely hot, with empty beaches and cheaper flights (except April). In spring there are wonderful wild flowers, in autumn the sea is much warmer - take your pick. In midsummer (mid June - early Sep) there are a few discerning Greek tourists, and some other i-escapers, but it's never really crowded. In winter (Nov – March) there are some lovely, cool, clear days and some not so lovely, wintry ones, but it rarely gets properly cold (i.e. below 10 celsius).

Our top tips

Bring sandals for the pebbly beach, boots and long trousers if you plan to hike, and a copy of the Sunflower "Landscapes of the Peloponnese" (available in the village bookshop) for local circular walks. History buffs should pick up a copy of Patrick Leigh-Fermor’s book ‘The Mani'.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • Beach Cottages
  • 24 cottages for 2-5
  • Seasonal restaurant; others 1km
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • 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
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

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. 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 quality and attention to detail is exceptional by Greek standards - brushed steel lamps, chic 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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Kitchenette
  • Oven
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • TV
  • WiFi

Eating

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, staff will bring it to your room any time until 9pm (without any irritating room-service charge) so you can dine on your veranda.

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 kitchenette or, in season, pay extra for the hotel's delicious spread of fruit salad, fresh OJ, creamy yoghurt and more. Kitchenettes are reasonably well equipped (toaster, kettle, cafetiere, 2-ring 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. If you book through i-escape, there are complimentary breakfast provisions (fresh eggs, seasonal fruit, thick Greek yoghurt and local bread) at reception, to go with the yummy homemade jams in your fridge.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children's meals
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • In house cook
  • Kitchenette
  • Oven
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore the laid-back village of Kardamyli 1km (15 mins' walk) away, with a sprinkling of tasteful cafes, boutiques and an atmospheric C18th walled hamlet

  • Swim at the long, empty beach in front of the cottages (pebbly, but better as you go further from the village); or the sandy ones at Stoupa, 10km away

  • Hike the old cobbled mulepaths between villages – buy the excellent Anavasi 1:25,000 map or the Sunflower 'Southern Peloponnese' book in Kardamyli's bookshop

  • One of our favourite hikes, from Sotirianika via Kambos to Kardamyli (5 hours), brings you out at Elies - perfect for plunging into the sea, then staggering the 50 yards to dinner

  • Others take you down the Viros gorge (3-4 hours), up to the the Byzantine chapel of Ayia Sofia (1 hour), or past Proastio to the hidden cove of Fonissa (2+ hours)

  • Hire a fishing boat or kayakand explore the coast - there are cliff-backed coves and sea caves, plus an island with a ruined Venetian fort

  • Drive down to Areopolis (1 hour+) to visit the spectacular sea-caves of Pirgos Dirou; stop for fish lunch at Limeni and, on your way home, a stroll around the fishing harbour of Ayios Nikolaos

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Hiking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming

Kids

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.

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).

Best for:

Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

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:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Baby listening:

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.

Baby equipment:

  • Cots
  • High chairs

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

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.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Small playground next to the taverna
  • Plenty of space to run around in the olive groves
  • A donkey and various cats to befriend
  • Sea kayaks can be hired

Kids Activities nearby:

  • The quiet pebbly beach is great for families
  • Hiking paths and old mule paths lead to coves and villages
  • Boat trips in summer

Families Should Know:

  • If coming with toddlers, request a ground-floor apartment or studio
  • Bring any special provisions with you (no huge supermarkets here)
  • If flying into Athens, be aware it's a 3.5 hour drive to Elies

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour (Kalamata), 3.5 hours (Athens)
  • Chemist: 3 mins (Kardamyli)
  • Hospital: 45 minutes (Kalamata)
Kid Friendly:

Location

Elies Hotel is 1km outside the coastal village of Kardamyli (also spelled Kardamili), in the southern Peloponnese. It's about 3.5 hours' drive from Athens, and 45 minutes south of Kalamata (or 1 hour from Kalamata airport).

By Air
Kalamata (45km) or Athens (310km). Click on the links below for a list of airlines.

From the airports
From Kalamata airport you could get a taxi to Elies (45km / 45 mins), and from Athens you could conceivably take a bus (4 hours); but most likely you will want a hire car to explore the area and to faciliate shopping. 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

Airports:

  • Kalamata 45.0 km KLX
  • Athens, Eleftherios Venizelos 310.0 km ATH

Other:

  • Beach 0.0 km
  • Shops 1.0 km
  • Restaurant 1.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 41 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

Evening menu was very limited. Location and accommodation were superb.

9/10,

Beautiful hotel, wonderful location, excellent food, brilliant service. I'm not surprised that Elies has multiple return guests (some coming back for 10+ years!). We plan to join those ranks.

10/10,

The location is fantastic, the staff are extremely friendly and helpful. I could not recommend it enough.

10/10,

Loved it - even though it poured with rain in freak weather for June! Friendly, laid back, very clean and tidy. Would definitely return. Will return!

10/10,

The service and the desire of the staff to help was excellent. The set up feels very relaxed but everything runs really efficiently. The restaurant Lela in Kardamyli was a very good recommendation.
We found that Andrew Bostock’s guide to The Peloponnese was very helpful. We had a great holiday and really enjoyed our stay at the Elies Hotel.

10/10,

What can one say that others have not?
This was my second visit to the wonderful Elies.. the first time in 2011 I was blown away by the tranquility and beauty of Kardamyli. Elies was a place I vowed to return to.. 7 years later “nothing has changed”, my second visit exceeded my expectations, somehow Kardamyli is still just as peaceful. The cottage, spotlessly clean (the local team of ladies who yes were here 7 years ago take pride and you can see the part they play). The restaurant - the freshest ingredients only are sourced, crispiest Greek salad on my travels. The beach, safe and spotless with your “own” lounger and umbrella. The walks/hikes are never ending, so well sign posted with hidden gems and glorious views. Long story short I will be back and can not recommend Elies more highly.

10/10,

Could not fault it, accommodation spotlessly clean, food and service excellent, great location.

10/10,

Odd arrangement where you have to collect a breakfast tray from reception to take back to your room, but it's very generous and there are lovely home made jams and fresh oranges in the fridge. Lovely gardens and nice but pebbly beach. What a shame the restaurant wasn't open for dinner (May) - it is in a lovely location amongst the olive trees and food at lunchtime was excellent.

8/10,

Loved the Elies: the peacefulness, the lack of pretension, the delicious fresh food, the setting and location.

10/10,

Our first visit to Elies and it won’t be the last. We simply loved everything about it.
What a lovely family. Top top marks.

10/10,

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