Onar

Andros, Greece Book from Book from £153 per night

Quiet, simple cottages (sleeping 2-5) 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 13 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 2-5, 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, linger over communal breakfasts under a giant plane tree, recharge your batteries by the communal pool, 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.

Information provided by Onar on 04/01/2021.

Cleaning and hygiene
Enhanced in-room cleaning using covid-free certified products and high temperature washing of all bedding, using steam cleaners and sanitizers. Cleaning and disinfection is provided once before check in. Daily housekeeping is prohibited to avoid contact between cleaning staff and guests. Thorough cleaning of all back-of-house spaces, especially high touch areas like kitchen, warehouse, staff office and laundry room.

Common areas
Daily disinfection of all public areas and high touch spaces during the day. Every staff member receives hygiene training and will comply with WHO hygiene and safety protocols (hand cleaning, keeping distance, etc). Contactless check in & check out procedures, as well as concierge service, during your stay. Guests will be provided with sanitizers.

Food and drink
No buffet available; a la carte breakfast option only. Restaurant seating will comply with government’s social distancing measures: each house reserves a specific table for their whole stay. In-house breakfast, lunch and dinner delivery is also available via the app (book ahead).

Other
Transfers from Gavrio (port): max 2 people per 5-seater car (or, for families, 2 adults & 2 children), plus the driver. Use of masks is mandatory during the journey. Using A/C is not recommended.

Highs

  • A true 'detox-from-modern-life' style getaway: throw your iPhone in the sea and get back to basics
  • Beautiful setting in an oleander-filled valley within a Natura 2000 park
  • Their certified organic garden produces fresh seasonal ingredients for the restaurant
  • We loved the calming, simple interior design, and the friendly staff led by charismatic Mateo
  • Such is its seclusion, it feels almost like a private resort on a private island

Lows

  • WiFi is only available on request (extra cost)
  • 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
  • The meltemi wind can blow in midsummer, but generally only in the afternoons
  • The pool can get busy in high summer; you'll need to reserve a spot with the on-site manager

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

The resort hosts yoga retreats and cooking seminars in May/June and Sept/Oct. Check with management before going if you want to join. Prices and dates vary.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Romantic
  • Boutique Cottages
  • 13 cottages for 2-5
  • Restaurant
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 8 Dec 2021 - 31 Dec 2021
  • Outdoor 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
  • Laundry Service
  • 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 13 houses of varying sizes; the 1-bedroom Houses for 3 guests, the larger 2-bedroom Villas for 5 guests, and the newer Dream Hillside Villas and Sunrise Hillside Villas. 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 Sunrise has a private pool.

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, satellite TV, a DVD player and a mini HiFi, 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
  • 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. Mediterranean fare is on offer for lunch and dinner, and 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.

Each house has a basic kitchenette with a small fridge and the basics to prepare snacks, but note that they don't have cooking equipment.

Features include:

  • Chef on request
  • Children's 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 House for 3 guests are best for families with one child, but the larger houses can accommodate up to 5 guests so they are better for families with more than one child. Note that there are no bathtubs.

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. 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.

Distances:

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

Location

Onar is situated at the edge of a large natural park, on the east coast of the island of Andros, the most northerly island in the Cyclades. It's roughly 3 hours east of Athens (1-2 hours by ferry, then about an hour across the island to Onar).

By Air and Sea
Fly to Athens International Airport and jump in a taxi to Rafina port, just under 30 minutes away to the east. There are regular daily ferries to Andros taking 2 hours (typically going at 7.30am, 5.30pm and 7.15pm). If you miss the ferry through flight timings, we'd recommend overnighting in Athens and taking the early ferry the next day. You can also fly to Mykonos and catch a ferry from there (taking 2.5 hours). Once you've arrived on the island, it's a good 45-minute car or taxi journey to Onar.

Car Hire
A car is almost essential, both to reach the place and to get around. Be warned, the roads are poor and you will want to factor this in if you're a nervous driver. Onar is at the end of a long and very rough dirt road, about 30 minutes from a tarmac road. It's feasible in a normal car but you may prefer to rent a jeep. Andros has few car hire companies (most visitors are Athenians who bring their cars with them) but there are a couple of outlets in Gavrio and Batsi, or you can hire a car in Athens or Mykonos and bring it over - see our car rental recommendations.

Island-hopping
Greek Island-hoppers will be glad to hear that Andros is connected by regular ferry services to Tinos (1.5 hours) and Paros (4 hours), in addition to Mykonos.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Athens International 135.0 km ATH
  • Mykonos 112.0 km JMK

Other:

  • Beach 0.4 km
  • Shops 22.0 km
  • Restaurant 8.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 4 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

It has taken me weeks/months to write this review, not because Onar was bad, but because life is busy. It's been on my mind to write though because Onar was quite the opposite to bad - it was just wonderful. Tucked away in a stunning corner of Andros this is a charming small family owned hotel. It is not for people who want to dash out to restaurants or go shopping every day - it is a long drive down a track to reach Onar and once there you won't want to leave. The rooms are huge and beautifully decorated - each one built for privacy and relaxation. The grounds are pretty and there is a stylish swimming pool where we were frequently the only guests - this is because the real attraction of Onar is the beach and the sea. Set within a nature reserve the 6 minute walk down to the beach is a thing to remember ....along a riverbed, under the trees and out to what has to be Andros's most magnificent stretch of sand. It is a public beach but because it is a long windy track to get to it it doesn't attract huge crowds. In early September we and a few others from Onar had it to ourselves.
Walking from the beach, up past the little church and through the hills to a working monastery is worth the effort if it is not too hot.
All the people working at Onar were friendly and helpful - the food was hearty and excellent...any problems and Theo, the hands on and charming entertaining manager was quick to resolve them.
Andros is a very special island - I would definitely recommend staying in other areas on the island too but no trip to Andros would be complete without some relaxing days or a week at Onar. A big thumbs up, we loved it.

10/10,

I'm finding it very hard to write of our experience in a way which captures the depth of it. Memories and feelings more than facts seems to be what surfaces - the scent of herbs enveloping us as we drank in the deep peace, the touch of natural materials - wood, stone, water, deep blue sea and the gently trickling river, the sound of birds and cicadas and of turtles plopping off their tree trunk into the pool below, the waterfall with its twisted ancient tree roots. Walks into the silent countryside on stone paths. The joy of a bonfire on a beach whilst being fed delicious food under a full moon.
With my hand on my heart, I've never missed anywhere like I'm missing Onar and its partly the things above but so much too about the warmth of the staff who looked after us whilst we were there which made this such a special place. Its not a hotel but a small community of people who simply can't do enough to look after those people lucky enough to have found Onar. I'm cynical enough to know this is a business but its one with heart at its centre and a deep understanding of how to look after guests in a really sincere way. Don't expect slick style and obsequious behaviour , but Greek (and Phillippino) warmth with attention to detail and style. Teo who manages Onar is outstanding and the staff around him were so warm and genuine. The welcome we received from them all and Matteo the owner who had the dream which became this place was a wonderful start to the most blissful 6 days. We can't wait to get back there. I think it will feel like coming home.

10/10,

What a find. We spent 5 days at Onar with our 5 year old daughter and feel incredibly lucky. Super stylish but simple accommodation, delicious food under the plane trees by the river and the warmest welcome and hospitality. Arriving across the mountain after the bumpy journey across the island into this valley oasis, you feel like you're entering paradise. You do have to embrace the fact that there is nothing to do other than explore the river, beach, perhaps a boat trip around the coast to the nearest town. For us, slowing life right down to an expedition up the river to see if we could spot the turtles and eels or down to the beach for a swim was perfect. Time to reconnect with nature and each other. What else could you want.

10/10,

If you are looking for the hidden treasures of Greece, Onar is one of them. We heard about this small paradise from our friends and we decided to join a Yoga retreat during low season. It was an unforgettable experience. The location is amazing, the stone houses cozy and stylish and the people extremely friendly and helpful. The sessions took place in an Mongolian Yurt resembling a temple. The food was delicious and nutritious. We ca not wait to go back during summer.

10/10,

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