Onar

Andros, Greece Book from Book from £165 per night

Quiet, simple cottages (sleeping 2-7) a leafy stroll from a stunning beach, hidden away on a very under-rated Greek island.
Onar, meaning 'dream' in Ancient Greek, is a collection of 9 individual stone houses on a gorgeously secluded cove on the east coast of Andros. This island - you probably won't have heard of it, few have - is the northernmost in the Cyclades group, just a couple of hours from Athens, and one of our absolute favourites: rugged and wild, with a handsome capital town and some superb beaches. So it's a double delight to unearth such a gem of a property here.

With each house sleeping 2-7, Onar is ideal for families and groups as well as couples looking for a romantic getaway. The atmosphere is secluded, but, thanks to the combination of communal meals and an effervescent host, never lonely. Family adventures in the style of Gerald Durrell blossom in the river valley that leads to the beach, while the sun, sea, delicious fresh food and stylishly simple décor will reinvigorate even the most jaded workaholics. Sit round the fire drinking wine in the evening, bask in the morning sunshine at a communal breakfast under a giant plane tree, or trip slowly along the riverbed in the dappled sunlight to Achlas beach and its atmospheric chapel: this is the stuff great holidays are made of.

Highs

  • A true 'detox-from-modern-life' style getaway: throw your iPhone in the sea and get back to basics
  • Beautiful setting within a Natura 2000 protected national park and a certified organic garden producing fresh seasonal ingredients for the restaurant
  • Owner Mateo's charisma and the helpful staff
  • Walking through the river to the beach is the sort of thing fantastic family memories are made of, and the whole area is full of greenery and lush oleanders
  • Calming simple interior design and a homespun style
  • It feels like a private resort on a private island

Lows

  • No pool, but it's close to the beach and a natural pool fed by a waterfall
  • The facilities are minimal, with no formal reception - but that's of course part of the charm
  • It's hard to reach, hidden down a rough track on an island without an airport, but once you've made the trek you'll find it hard to leave
  • If you want to explore beyond the resort, you will need a car, if not a jeep, to make the most of your stay
  • The meltemi wind can blow in midsummer, but generally only in the afternoons

Best time to go

High season is July and August when the island is a popular weekender destination for Athenian city types; the Meltemi winds blow from mid-July to late August and can make beaches on the east coast of Andros a bit choppy. The hotel is closed from mid October - end April.

Our top tips

Yoga retreats and cooking seminars can be arranged via the management. The yoga courses take place every year but prices and dates vary

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • Boutique Cottages
  • 9 cottages for 2-5
  • Self-catering with an onsite restaurant
  • 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
  • Alfresco dining area
Room:

Rooms

Onar's subtle design brings out the best in the surroundings by reflecting the natural world as much as possible in its décor. So expect to find wooden beams, brushed concrete floors, natural fibres, splashes of modern art on the walls and colours that, like the turquoise throws and white bedsheets, echo the blue skies and brilliant sand outside. It's simple, but it packs a punch.

There are 9 houses of varying sizes; the 1 bedroom Small House, the 2 bedroom Large House, and the 3 bedroom Superior House which has its own private garden. They all have modern bathrooms and private patios plus a living room, kitchenette, fireplace and large picture windows. All have views of the river or sea.

The one thing we should highlight is the simplicity of life here: kitchenettes lack ovens, there's no formal reception, and you're a long way from supplies (25km, half of it on a rough track). Each house does have a limited internet connection (available only on request!), satellite TV, a DVD player and a mini HiFi with an iPod jack, but keeping in touch with the outside world isn't really the ethos; instead, the desert island feeling means that you really do get away from it all.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet connection (on request)
  • Kitchenette
  • Mini HiFi with iPod dock
  • Safe box (on request)
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries

Eating

Food at Onar follows the wonderful Greek tradition of eating fresh food bursting with flavour in the shade outdoors. The hotel serves up a delightful communal breakfast of Greek coffee, juice, seasonal fruit, homemade jam, local honey, cereal, eggs from the village, olives, feta cheese, traditional cookies and bread, all served underneath a giant plane tree.

This communal feel extends to nights spent drinking wine and chatting beside the fire in the central building, but you can easily self-cater and eat at your own house if you want to be private. Each house has a kitchenette with with hob (no oven or microwave), fridge and basic cutlery and crockery: enough for simple home cooking but nothing fancy.

In 2013 Ilias Kariotoglou, who trained under Michel Roux, took over Onar's kitchen. He uses fresh fish from local fishermen and ingredients from the garden and local markets to create classic Greek dishes with a modern twist. Start with zucchini frittas and fava, followed by Mussels with white wine and lemon or a traditional Andros froutalia omellete for two, and end with Onar pear belle helene. As well as this, local women from the village of Vourkoti occasionally offer their secret recipes and home cooked Mediterranean meals for lunch and dinner. The three-course menus include Greek salad, stuffed tomatoes or peppers, chicken with baked potatoes, meatballs, moussaka, spinach pie and fish on the grill.

The closest taverna is in Vourkoti, about 8km away on an unlit dirt road, so it is easier eat out at lunchtime than in the evening. The nearest market is in Hora, about 25 km from Onar, and there's a supermarket at Andros port, just across from the ferry.

Features include:

  • Chef on request
  • Children meals
  • Communal dining
  • Fridge
  • Kitchenette
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian menu
  • Welcome hamper
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Relax, relax, relax. Give in to the surroundings and peace and give yourself a break. Sunbathe under the plane trees or wander to the beach - just do the bare minimum

  • Explore Hora (also called Andros), the island's main town, which hosts summer art events and is home to the distinguished Goulandris Museum of Modern Art

  • Go hiking. There are some excellent routes, for example from Hora to the monastery of Panachrantos, perched below the falcon-shadowed cliffs 2 hours above the valley

  • Take a jeep to Vitali beach, one of our favourite beaches in the world, on the island's east coast. It's shingly with exceptionally clear water

  • Between September and October, ask for a day trip to be arranged to experience either wine pressing, raki distillation or olive pressing

  • Head to Paleopolis to see the island's highest waterfall (spring only) and, down at sea level, the scant remains of an ancient sunken city

  • From the nearby village of Strapouries, you can follow a stone walled kalderimi (mulepath) onto the plateau of Mt. Petali, and then cross country to its 1000-metre summit (sometimes shrouded in mist)

  • Take a boat tour around the coast. Mateo can again suggest fantastic beaches nearby to visit, including one which is often home to migratory Eleonoras falcons - great for bird-watchers. Boats for 5 can be hired without a license, or you can join daily boat trips

  • With a rented jeep or motorbike, head south to Korthi, visiting the ruined Venetian castle of Paliokastro atop its wind-battered hill; the explore the lush, terraced villages of Korthi's interior. Mateo can mark places of interest on maps for you to find yourself, or arrange a guide if necessary

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Yoga

Kids

We think that Onar is great for children and would make a fab family holiday spot. It might not necessarily have all the mod cons and comforts you'd expect (be prepared to bring them with you - there's no shop nearby for example) but the access to nature is unparalleled and there's a natural swimming pool. Older children and teenagers will love the opportunity to run, swim, climb, explore and hide.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

The Small Houses are best for families with one child, the Large Houses sleep up to 4 adults and the Superior House sleeps up to 7 so they are better for families with more than one child. Note that there are no bath tubs.

Babysitting:

Can be arranged on request, see Rates

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chair
  • Baby bedding

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

Children's meals:

The staff are happy to prepare meals for children when required so they don't have to wait for adult mealtimes. There are no microwaves in the kitchens, but there are plenty of pots and pans for heating baby food. Note that there is just a small cantina-beach bar on the beach and a taverna at the village of Vourkoti 8km away.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Natural swimming ponds
  • There's a small playground on site
  • Toys and games
  • Each house has a TV and DVD player
  • Farm animals nearby

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Swim on the beach
  • Snorkelling
  • Fishing
  • Visit local farms and try local produce
  • Jeep excursions for older kids
  • Hiking
  • Boat trips
  • Paintballing the other side of the island
  • Scuba diving

Families Should Know:

Families with babies and/or toddlers may have to bring a lot with them - there isn't a shop nearby and specialist items like baby suncream may be hard to find on Andros. Note that there is a mobile phone signal throughout the property.

Distances:

  • Hospital: 40 minutes
  • Doctor: 40 minutes
  • Shop: 40 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 4 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Rooms
7/10
Food
9/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

Wonderful, remote location that takes you away from the stress of the world. Lovely team and lots of thought put in to running the place. The road to the resort is hairy so don't drive yourself unless your a confident driver!

9/10, , June 2016

The number of guests staying for the second time says it all. Wonderful place to relax and forget the world out there.

10/10, , September 2015

Our stay at Onar was amazing - 5 all round. The place is very unique, secluded, calm, with wonderful food, service and a charm that it hard to find. It's very off the beaten track, so if you're planning on staying there as a 'base' and exploring the rest of Andros then forget it - too much hassle and it's 9km down a very rocky road! But it was perfect for what we needed

10/10, , July 2015

Onar is a jewel of a place: a tiny, remote retreat of eco-friendly minimalist cottages with an open-air restaurant for the 25 or so guests and a lovely beach with crystal-clear swimmable water just 5 minutes walk away. It’s a place for people who appreciate the luxury of seclusion, nature, silence (apart from the perma-chorus of crickets!), good healthy living and long conversations fuelled by raki, wine or beer under the stars. <br> <br>By day two, we were in total relaxation mode, and happily whiled away the next week swimming in the sea, lying on the deserted beach, hiking in the surrounding hills and reading books in the hammock on our terrace. The houses are not too close together, so you never feel encroached upon, and the staff are fantastic - Panagiotis, Efthimis, Romel and Nikos are warm, friendly and hard-working guys who create a laid-back and homely yet unintrusive vibe. <br> <br>Onar is at the bottom of a vertiginous, rocky, barrierless 8km-long dirt track that winds down a mountain, so self-drive is not for the fainthearted (and Onar can arrive transfers from the port). We would have felt too isolated without our own vehicle though - the one drawback of Onar’s seclusion being that you can't pop out for a quick coffee or meal at a local taverna: you have to drive at least an hour to immerse yourself in local island life. The upside of the difficult road is that Onar guests are more or less guaranteed to have Achla beach to themselves. And peace and seclusion like this, away from traffic, crowds, noise and light-pollution, are a rare thing indeed. <br> <br>Our one disappointment was the lack of Greek dishes on the menu. I had induced my other half here with the lure of traditional island food, so we were both looking forward to feasting on grilled fish, seafood and marinated meats, fresh salads, savoury pastries and mezes. But, while we did have two spectacular meals - one on the last night which we savoured gratefully - the short menu seemed mostly to be taken up with everyday Italian fare (spaghetti and lasagne), burgers or beef strips cooked in a sauce (although we did regularly order an utterly delicious salad made with ripe baby plum tomatoes plucked straight from Onar’s garden). It’s clearly a huge challenge to get supplies to Onar, but it would be a major improvement if the restaurant were able to offer fresh fish every day to all its guests. Simple, honest, local food is the way to go - most people aren’t looking for anything fancy. That said, the kitchen team were really kind and obliging about taking our feedback on board and started to include more Greek dishes and fresh grilled meat/fish/seafood towards the end of our stay. If Onar can crack the supply-chain issues, it will be close to perfect. We already miss it and would love to return soon!

9/10, , June 2015

{{ review.rating }}/10, {{ review.firstName }}Anonymous{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},

Rates for Onar