Onar

Andros, Greece
Book from GBP Book from £205 per night

Onar

Andros, Greece

Quiet, simple cottages (sleeping 2-5) a leafy stroll from a stunning beach, hidden away on a very under-rated Greek island.

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 14 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 friendly vibe 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 breakfasts incorporating fresh, local produce, 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.

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
  • 14 cottages for 2-5
  • Restaurant
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car recommended
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • 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 14 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, Sunrise Hillside Villas and newest Superior Family Villa. 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 two-storey Family Villa has a large veranda and garden.

The one thing we should highlight is the simplicity of life here: kitchenettes lack ovens (excluding the Family Villa which has a full kitchen), 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:

  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • In-room treatments available
  • WiFi

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 a la carte breakfasts which incorporate fresh ingredients, like seasonal fruit, homemade jam, local honey, eggs from the village, olives, feta cheese, traditional cookies and bread.

Nights are spent drinking wine and chatting with other guests 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 to 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
  • Fridge
  • Kids' meals
  • Kitchenette
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Vegetarian options
  • 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 two-storey Superior Family Villa is the best for families with two bedrooms, sleeps up to 5 (with a sofa bed in the living room), and has a full kitchen with veranda and garden. The other larger houses can also accommodate up to 5 guests. The House for 3 guests are best for families with one child. Note that there are no bathtubs.

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available, Family Rooms

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, around 40 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. You may prefer to rent a jeep or other 4x4. 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.
Private transfers to and from Onar can be arranged for an extra fee.

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 7 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
9/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

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Rates for Onar

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