“A stylish seaside guesthouse set on its own beach, with 7 spacious suites and delicious, inventive Greek cuisine”
The setting is magnificent. You look out over the placid waters of the Pagasitic Gulf, its horizon ringed by rugged lilac mountains. Take a swim before breakfast - flying fish skimmed the water in front of my nose - then wander into the pretty fishing village of Afissos, or explore Pelion's wooded hills by bike, horseback or miniature train. Service comes with a smile, and rates are reasonable. Each suite sleeps 2-4, thanks to a separate sitting room, though we think this would be perfect for couples without children who fancy an upmarket Greek beachside hideaway.
- The food really is an eye-opener: we thought it some of the best we've ever tasted in 20 years of visiting Greek hotels
- We also liked the chic homely suites, with their brushed concrete-effect walls, large abstract tableaux and heavy designer fabrics - though they may not be to everyone’s taste
- If you tire of the lovely sand-shingle beach on your doorstep, there are 2 more within 15 minutes' walk
- With only 7 suites (one of them added, presumably, after they chose the name), it feels delightfully exclusive
- Pelion makes a refreshing change from the barren Greek islands, with its cooler summers, dappled olive and beech woods, and picturesque stone villages
- You'll need to book early: the season is short, and Exi Kleidia (to use its Greek name) has a faithful following among the cognoscenti of Athens and Thessaloniki
- The near-constant soundtrack of chilled music irked me a bit, but it starts mid-morning, so you can wake to the sound of the waves at least
- You may never use your ensuite sitting room: the outdoor seating (both private and communal) is even nicer
- Some suites come with a fireplace or sunken jacuzzi, but these tend not to be operational
- It's a bit of a devil to reach (unless you can find a rare flight into Volos): expect 2.5 hours' drive from Thessaloniki, 4 from Athens
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel & Restaurant
- Restaurant (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Closed: Closed November to March
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Bicycles Available
The suites each have a double (kingsize) bedroom and a separate sitting room, with a small shower room in between. The palette is glistening gold and grey, with large abstract tableaux on brushed concrete-effect walls (actually just stud walls, as we discovered when noisy neighbours arrived), softened by cherubic candlesticks and provencal dressers in the sitting room. We liked it, though if you're after that simple whitewashed Cycladic look, you might not.
Open eaves keep the bedrooms tall and airy while, most importantly, the beds are fantastically comfy, with sink-into Coco-mat mattresses and vast stacks of pillows. Tiled wetrooms have a generous assortment of Elixir Herbs smellies made by the Greece-based My Roots.
Deluxe Suites boast a small sunken jacuzzi in the sitting room and a big stone fireplace in the bedroom, but the former seems superfluous with the sea on your doorstep, and the latter is purely decorative (anyway the hotel is closed in winter); so in all honesty you'd be better off booking the cheaper Standard Suites. These can sleep up to 4, using both sofabeds, but for more space families might prefer the larger, split-level Executive Suite with its extra single bed on a platform above. There are no twin-bedded rooms.
- Air conditioning
- Central heating
- Cots Available
- DVD player (on request)
- Jacuzzi (some rooms)
- Safe box
Food here is a highlight, as you may have gathered. Under the tutelage of Athenian superchef Iannis Baxevanis - Greece's Heston Blumenthal, if you will - the kitchen produces some astonishing dishes based on traditional Hellenic recipes but with innovative twists (such as savoury sorbets) and underused, often foraged, ingredients.
To start, there’s feta-stuffed doughnut topped with a red pepper sorbet, marinated sea bass with green apple sorbet, or carob pitta breads stuffed with calamari. But the show-stopper starter is shrimps that are cooked (with a sprinkling of ouzo) on hot pebbles at your table, then placed on a bed of white tarama mousse and rock samphire atop carob bread squares.
When it came to the mains, our sea bass stuffed with aromatic greens was wonderfully juicy. We also loved the chicken stuffed with sweet onions and raisins, served with celeriac purée, and the oven-baked lamb that came with a smoky aubergine puree. There’s black linguini, risotto, and salads too. And for dessert, if you don’t fancy the chocolate soup, there’s a deconstructed baklava served with mastika ice cream, sultanas, and thyme and black pepper meringues. The well-priced, 7-page wine list is mostly Greek and there are cracking cocktails too - try the Minerva, a sweet-sour-spicy-salty mix of rum, spices, pineapple and chocolate bitter.
You eat in the rustic-chic dining room, among vintage posters, fresh flowers and glass candlejars; or grab one of the sea-facing veranda tables for a prime sunset view.
For breakfast, choose (the previous evening) from a menu card of pastries, homemade jams, pancakes with cheese and honey, cold cuts, omelettes, local yoghurt and seasonal fruit. Lunch is also available (either the same dishes as at supper or lighter snacks like a pastorma sandwich or pork belly pie), but we enjoyed wandering into Afissos (15 mins) to eat at one of its waterside tavernas or bars.
- Children's meals
- Organic produce
- Restaurants nearby
- Vegetarian menu
- This is a place to indulge and do very little: swim in the sea, sunbathe on one of the beachfront loungers, top it off with fantastic cocktails and dinner
- When the mood takes you, wander into pretty Afissos (15 mins) for laid-back bars, simpler tavernas and fishing boats; on the way you pass a smaller beach for cooling off
- With a car (or mountain bike or horse, both of which can be arranged), explore Pelion's wooded hills and unspoiled stone villages; Milies has a vividly frescoed church and historic library, Pinakates is quietly authentic
- In high summer, a miniature train cuts a scenic swathe through the hills from Agria to Milies; jump off at the tiny station of Ano Gatzea for ancient footpaths through olive groves to the sea
- Just along the beach from Six Keys is a dive and sea-kayaking centre, which opens sporadically
- If you're based here for a while, you might want to drive round to Pelion's wilder east coast; we love the hidden cove of Fakistra tucked beneath the handsome scattered houses of Tsangarada, as well as the tiny photogenic fishing harbour of Damouhari
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Cooking classes
- Horse riding
- Mountain biking
- Scuba diving
- Wine tasting
Children are welcome, and will appreciate the beach and watersports on the doorstep. We felt Six Keys better suited to older children given the lack of a pool (as is standard amongst hotels in the area) and its serious gourmet credentials. Most of the guests we encountered were couples.
If you bring a baby monitor that allows you to dine in the restaurant or chill on the beach while the kids sleep in the room.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
Each suite has 1 or 2 sofabeds in its sitting area, plus space for a cot (available on request), so they can sleep a family in reasonable comfort
- Baby cots
- High chairs
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
The snack menu has kid-friendly dishes including pizza, a burger, club and toasted sandwiches, and the chef is happy to cater for special requests
Kids Activities nearby:
- Scuba diving centre next door
- Horse riding - 5 minutes away
- Airport: 45 minutes (Volos); 4 hours (Athens); 2.5 hours (Thessaloniki)
- Hospital: 20 minutes (Volos)
- Shops: 5 minutes
Six Keys is situated on Kallifteri beach just outside the village of Afissos (Afysos) on the Pelion peninsula. It's 25km (30 mins' drive) south of the town of Volos, following the main coastal road. Pelion is on the east coast of mainland Greece.
Fly into Volos (Nea Anchialos, 50km), if you can find a suitable flight. Otherwise Thessaloniki and Athens are respectively 3 and 4 hours' drive away, and are much better connected.
You'll probably want a car, as it's 1km (15 mins' walk) outside the village of Afissos, and the rest of Pelion is worth exploring. If so, see our car rental recommendations. Otherwise, if you just fancy a lazy time (and fine food) on the beach, you could manage without one; 5 or 6 buses a day run between Afissos and Volos.
By Boat from Skiathos
It's possible to combine Pelion with Skiathos using boats and hydrofoils in and out of Volos (30-45 mins' drive from the hotel), or the summer caique connection into Katigiorgis (1 hour's drive away). Skiathos has an airport with charter flights from the UK and a few other countries, as well as domestic flights from Athens.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to Greece and getting around.
- Volos (Nea Anchialos) 50.0 km VOL
- Thessaloniki (Macedonia) 250.0 km SKG
- Beach 0.0 km
- Shops 1.0 km
- Restaurant 1.0 km