“A boutique B&B with pretty suites for 2-4 and an inviting seafront café, in the laid-back resort village of Kala Nera”
One of these – bang on the seafront – is Minelska (ignore the 'Resort', it's more of a B&B). The café-cum-breakfast terrace is its trump card, lapped by the waves, with lilac hills forming a jagged ring right around the horizon. Its 5 suites are pretty in an upscale Ikea sort of way, with sofabeds in the sitting room for kids, and an unexpected hot tub in the courtyard. Breakfast was the best of our trip – a staggering spread (considering there are rarely more than 10 guests) of warm spinach pies, thick yoghurt, custard tartlets and then some. The village's shingle-sand beach is 5 minute's walk away, and you can rent pedalos, bikes or horses to explore Pelion's coves and groves.
- A great option for families with teen- or tweenagers, who want a bit of bustle but not the full Faliraki
- Two of the suites have lovely sea-facing terraces – try and book one of these if you can
- Unlike most Pelion hotels, it's open all year – making it a great option for shoulder season (April or October, for example)
- You've at least half a dozen tavernas within walking distance, offering good home cooking and sublime sunset views
- With these on your doorstep, and up to 10 daily buses from Volos, you could easily manage without a car here
- Kala Nera's beach is not Pelion's most spectacular, but it's safe for kids, and the water is clean and shallow
- You do feel a bit squeezed in among village houses - there’s no space for a garden or pool, which is a shame
- We found the suites in the rear building less appealing, mainly because they lack those sea views
- No in-room kitchenettes – these are suites rather than studios
- Don't expect reams of staff: the charming receptionist-cum-breakfast/cocktail waitress Irini is helped by a cleaner and (in the evenings) the affable owner Thomás
- Stays during July & August require full, non-refundable prepayment
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique B&B
- Breakfast & snack-bar; restaurants nearby
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
Each suite has a double (kingsize) bedroom, a bathroom with shower, and a separate sitting room with 2 sofas which can be made up as single beds. They are prettily styled by Thomas' wife Aspasia, with a mix of rustic (exposed stone walls, wooden beams) and dainty (floral fabrics, cream curtains, beaded chandeliers). The palette is off-whites and warm greys with touches of pink or burgundy; oil paintings of naive nudes and lurid sunsets, by family friend Vasso Frangou, add further splashes of colour.
You get flatscreen TVs and air-con in the sitting room; dreamy Cocomat 4-layer mattresses and plenty of wardrobe space in the bedroom; hairdryers, robes and Apivita goodies in the bathroom. Stylish fireplaces - some set behind glass in the wall, others in eye-catching hanging stoves by Pharos - keep you snuggly in the surprisingly cool Pelion spring or autumn.
But it's the 2 sea-facing suites (Skari and Koralli) which stand out for their wonderful private patios, furnished with easy seating and vast parasols - a great space to while away an afternoon or several. Yes, they're above the café and they overlook the waterfront road, but we weren't troubled by noise, and the road is closed to traffic on summer evenings. By contrast, the 3 suites in the rear building lack their own outdoor space (apart from a shared courtyard, with its hot tub), and we thought that ground-floor Vallari, in particular, felt rather enclosed.
- Air conditioning
- Cots Available
- Safe box
- Terrace (some rooms)
Breakfast at Minelska's seafront café is a wonderful start to the day. In the surprisingly urban-chic dining room, Irini lays out an astonishing spread of oven-warmed pastries (custard tartlets, spinach rolls, cheese triangles), tangy goats cheese and fleshy olives from a nearby farm, thick-set Greek yoghurt with a vast bowl of freshly sliced strawberries, melon, oranges, bananas and peaches. There are fried eggs and wholemeal breads too, squeezed juices and superb jams, so pile your plate high and take a sleek white seat by the water's edge (or a wicker sofa, if you prefer) and watch the first boats putter into life on a millpond sea.
You could easily spend most of the day here: Irini can bring all manner of coffees, juices, even wines and cocktails if it comes to it, plus a small selection of ice creams, cakes and savoury snacks. But other delights beckon - most vocally Paris' taverna and his seafront neighbours.
For a quieter dinner, escape to Rodia, a 5-minute walk through olive groves, for well-priced, home-cooked fare. My juicy lamb with aubergines, vast Greek salad and a half-litre jug of local white wine came to barely 10 euros. There are plenty of mini-markets in the village, if you fancy stocking up for a picnic.
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- Kala Nera - which means 'good waters' after the nearby springs, though it could just as well apply to the Blue Flag beach - is all about the sea: go swimming or snorkelling, flop onto a lounger on the shingle-sand beach, rent a pedalo, kayak or even a day's sailing (we love the look of Eclipse's classic John Alden ketch)
- Walk south along the seafront to find a quieter patch of coast - not perhaps the most spectacular stretch in Pelion (the seabed is stony and shelves extremely gently), but an easy stroll past lush fields and the occasional handsome farmhouse
- Take the miniature scenic train (summer only) from Ano Lehonia to the picturesque village of Milies; jump off at Ano Gadzea to follow cobbled mulepaths through silvery olive groves to the coast (for more hikes, see my Tips)
- Drive or bus into Afissos (8km) for its pretty fishing harbour, laid-back cafés and a choice of beautiful beaches
- With a car, you can explore the gorgeous stone-and-slate villages tucked high on Pelion's wooded slopes; Vyzitsa and Milies are the best known (the latter with a stunning frescoed church), Pinakates and Ayios Lavrentios our own favourites - and all have inviting shady squares
- Ask the hotel to book you a mountain bike or a horse ride through the local woods and foothills (ideal in April-May or Sept-Oct); energetic types can head up to the silent beech and chestnut forests of Pelion's 1000-metre crest
- Come in winter and you can ski at Agriolefkes (45km, 1400m altitude): it's a tiny place, with just 5 lifts and 300m drop, but the snow is usually good from Jan to March
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Horse riding
- Mountain biking
- Scenic train rides
Children of all ages are welcome at Minelska and we think it's a good option for families who want some hotel services (breakfast, daytime drinks and snacks) at what you might call a self-catering price point. All suites work for families as each has a sitting room with 2 single sofa beds. Note that they don't have kitchenettes, but there are shops and tavernas within a few minutes' walk.
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
All suites have one bedroom with a double bed and living room with 2 sofa beds so can sleep 4, plus a baby cot can be added. The smaller suites are well set up for a couple with 1 or 2 well-behaved children but you'd need to keep your clutter organised (there's plenty of cupboard space). The suites with a garden view (Brinja and Lilija) are bigger and have a door separating the bedroom from the living room, these two suites can also take an extra bed.
- Baby cots
- Night lights
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Kids Activities nearby:
- There's no pool, but the village beach (5 mins' walk) is safe and partly sandy. You can rent pedalos or loungers, and there are usually plenty of other children to mix with (mostly Greek)
- In the evening, there are a few laid-back bars with music and occasional dancing
- Ride mountain bikes or go horse-riding; the hotel can assist with booking
- Miniature scenic train rides (summer only)
Families Should Know:
You need to cross the lane to reach the seafront café from the rooms - but it's closed to traffic on summer evenings. The pharmacy is next door to the hotel
- Airport: 65 minutes (Anchiolas); 3hrs 55mins (Athens); 3hrs 10mins (Thessaloniki)
- Hospital: 25 minutes (Volos)
- Shops: 1-5 minutes (Kala Nera)