Pino di Loto

Kini, Syros, Greece Book from

A gorgeous 4-suite hideaway set above the pretty fishing harbour of Kini on western Syros, with access to stunning beaches
When you think of Greece, chances are you picture a turquoise bay bobbing with fishing boats, a sandy beach with a couple of table-in-the-sand tavernas, a sprinkling of white-cube houses. One of them - perhaps at the top of the village - has some stylishly simple suites, maybe a patio with views of rugged hills and island-studded horizons; if you're lucky, there's a glistening azure pool flanked by oversized lanterns and inviting daybeds. The sun shines, there are boat trips to secluded coves, wild flowers in spring, fresh grilled fish at dinner, fresh squeezed OJ at breakfast.

Hidden above the pretty fishing village of Kini on the west coast of Syros, Pino di Loto ticks all these boxes, and a few more. First off, it's all done with a touch of class: the just-baked croissants and loose leaf green teas at breakfast, the net-draped four posters and salvaged mirror frames in the all-white suites, the generously tiered outdoor spaces (patios, pool-bar, pergola) - and all for a maximum of 8-16 guests. The service, from multilingual young Terezdina and her cultured parents (Mum did the interiors), is also a cut above; nothing is too much trouble. And Syros itself is something of a hidden gem: overlooked by most foreign visitors, though popular with Athenians in high summer. The northwest hides some of the Cyclades' loveliest little beaches, accessible by boat from Kini; Ermoupolis, too, is a real eye-opener, with its grandiose Neoclassical buildings, opulent churches and labyrinthine hill quarter of Ano Syros.

Highs

  • With just 4 rooms and devoted family management, it feels just like staying with friends
  • Hook up with 3 other couples and book the whole place for a heavenly house party
  • Each suite has a double sofabed as well as a kitchenette
  • The sublime food at Armirikia, one of Kini's seaside restaurants, will make you rethink Greek cuisine
  • Just an hour by boat from Mykonos (direct flights from Europe), not much more from Tinos, Paros and Naxos; or you can fly here from Athens in a little prop jet

Lows

  • This is strictly a summer place: in April/October it can be chilly and there's no cosy indoor sitting area
  • These are more like serviced apartments than hotel proper: the pool bar serves as reception, staff consists of Terezdina, her parents and a maid
  • Syros is not Greece's prettiest island: the south is dotted with summer villas, there's a working shipyard - but the north is wonderfully wild, Kini is sweet and Ermoupolis is impressive
  • It's not right on the beach but 5-10 mins' walk above Kini and Loto, both sandy and sheltered, with parasols and eateries
  • Children and young teens are not accepted (guest must be 15 or over)

Best time to go

As with most Cyclades islands, the best times to visit Syros are between May and September, but avoiding, if possible, the month of August (and July to a certain extent), which can get very busy with holidaying Athenians. If you come in April or October, be prepared for some chilly evenings, and don't count on using the pool or local boat service.

Our top tips

The island is small enough, and taxis cheap and plentiful enough, that you can easily manage without a hire car. This also allows you to explore without having to retrace your steps to your car. For example, for Ano Syros, have the taxi drop you at the top by the windmills, and walk down, stopping for a coffee at Lily's, the bouzouki bar where rembetiko legend Markos Vamvakaris sang his way to fame. At the town hall, head left to Vaporia district for the opulent church of St. Nikolaos, then end up at the harbour front taxi rank.

Remember to pack mask or goggles for the excellent snorkelling, and DVDs or CDs if you envisage spending much time in your suite (there are players for both, but no discs).

Great for...

Beach
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 4 suites for 2
  • Limited self-catering; restaurants nearby
  • Children aged 15+ only
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
  • Excursions
Room:

Rooms

The 4 suites occupy a pair of low bungalows one level up from the pool, with dazzling white walls, dove-grey shutters and plenty of patio space out front. Each has a pair of rooms inside: a sitting room (whose sofa converts to a comfy small double bed) with attached kitchenette, and a semi-separate double bedroom behind a folding screen. There's a (smallish) bathroom with shower, and A/C to keep it all cool (or warm in shoulder season).

Mary has kept the interiors pleasingly simple: lime-washed walls, polished cement floors and a mix of Ikea-style furniture and antiques from their family home, which is next door, under the shade of the homonymous pine. The bed - all are queensize - might be a wrought-iron four poster draped with decorative nets, or a wicker beach-house affair. There's a bit of art on the walls (simple watercolours, sepia photos of Kini), a hatstand, a couple of mirrors in salvaged frames, maybe a driftwood monolith or a smooth white beach stone to prop open the French doors. You also get Korres toiletries, free bottled water, stacks of towels, a good bottle of wine and some Turkish Delight.

Overall it feels comfy and unpretentious, not trying too hard to be boutique, which makes a nice change. If you're being picky, you might find the bathroom tight, or the sitting room sparse; and don't expect to whip up 4-course meals in the kitchenette (see Eating). But we liked it.

All 4 suites are very similar. If anything, number 4 has the edge for its corner location with marginally better sea views.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dvd player
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave (on request)
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Slippers
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Served around the pool, breakfast is a classy spread of freshly baked bread and pastries (including mini cheese pies), local cheeses (try the flavour-packed San Michali, from the island) and Bonne Maman jams and Cretan honey. Drinks-wise you get just-squeezed orange juice and beautifully presented teas (which included a blossomy loose-leaf green tea when we visited). It's all very flexible: you can ask for muesli with yoghurt, or toast and ham if that's your thing.

For dinner, stroll down to Kini (5-10 mins) and you've a choice of 2 fantastic seafront tavernas, plus a couple of simpler eateries a block or two back. On Terezdina's recommendation, we chose Dyo Tzitzikia st'Armirikia (usually shortened to a more manageable Armirikia) on the first evening - and never looked back! Refreshingly different salads (minted tabouleh with cucumber and tomato, or lentils with grated carrot and orange) are followed by fresh fish (we had the most delicious sargos whose flesh is so soft and white it was like melted snow), or home-cooked dishes like courgette fritters with cheese and herbs. It's all washed down with an extremely palatable draft white wine which costs less than a soft drink - though beware, the fresh fish is not cheap.

In your suite, you'll find a small kitchenette - a functional all-white affair with fridge, 2-ring hob, sink, basic pans and crockery - where you can prepare a light lunch or snacks: maybe a Greek salad or pasta dish. During the day, fresh salads and club sandwiches are on offer from the bar. There's a mini-supermarket in the village, a fantastic deli in Ermoupolis (Prekas), and you can dine outside on canvas chairs overlooking the pool and valley (or perch on stools inside).

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Kitchenette
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Wander down to the sandy beaches at Kini or Loto (5-10 mins' walk); both are sheltered and safe, with parasols, showers and eateries. Swimming and snorkelling is wonderful

  • If they're too crowded for your liking (possible in July-August, when Kini fills with holidaying Athenians), follow the small path from Kini's fishing harbour around the headland to Delfini beach (30 mins' hike): it's stonier but there's some sand at the far end, by the lovely seasonal taverna (which you can also reach by car)

  • Better still, take the Perla speedboat (normally leaves around 11am in summer, or on demand) to the secluded beaches of Lia and Grammata in the north of the island; backed by rugged stony hills (there's no road access) and a brilliant green fringe of pines, they feel blissfully remote and Crusoe-ish

  • Take the taxi or bus into Ermoupolis (9km) to explore this gracious town, the administrative centre of the Cyclades island group, with its handsome Neoclassical town hall, whose marbled square becomes a de facto playground for pigeon-chasing, scooter-riding kids; browse the pedestrianised alleys where fish stalls sit cheek by jowl with Swarovski outlets; climb to the summit of Ano Syros, a winding hillful of photogenic, pastel coloured lanes topped by the Catholic church of St. George

  • Explore some of the old footpaths - the Anavasi map marks them all - which bissect the terraced hillsides of the interior; one takes you from Ermoupolis, past the sleepy hamlets of Richopo and Plati Vouni, to a Bronze Age hill fort; others from San Michali / Papouri to the coves of Grammata / Aetos respectively

  • There's horse riding in Manna, Komito has a windsurfing school and Galissas has pedalos and kayaks

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Windsurfing

Kids

Only teens aged 15 and over are accepted.

Distances:

  • Hospital: 15 minutes
  • Nearest shop: 15 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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