“A laid-back bohemian retreat near mystical Mount Athos where you can switch off in style”
Backed by pine-forested hills and only a few steps from the sea, the rooms are subtly camouflaged by blooming gardens of fig, olive, ficus and honeysuckle. They are spread amongst several buildings and fall into 3 categories: 13 twin-bedded Bungalows are set on the ground floor, with private terraces and garden views. The 8 Upper-Floor Rooms sit above them, and have sea-view balconies. The 4 spacious Suites are standalone buildings with a bedroom and living room, plus an alcove with twin beds where children can snuggle up.
The plain architecture and slightly spartan interiors are inspired by the hotel’s namesake: ‘skites’ are secluded dependencies of the monasteries of Mount Athos. Some fittings are past their prime in the sun-drenched rooms, but in general they have plenty of charm. Wrought iron beds are draped in mosquito nets. Quirky ornaments like ecclesiastical oil lamps, and a few choice antiques and icons liven up the whitewashed walls. Bathrooms are small and basic, but fine, with showers and organic toiletries. The only off touch is the ugly mini-fridge in plain view.
There are a few concessions to modernity - direct-line telephones, hairdryers and air-conditioning - but thankfully no TV to disturb the serenity. Although there is daily room service, linen is only changed every 2 days out of concern for the environment (unless the guest requests a daily change).
Meals at Skites are as much about setting as substance: tables are laid on a sea-view terrace brimming with bougainvillea. Chef Ioannis Sarris, has cultivated a diverse menu which focuses on the many classic dishes of the Mediterranean. Expect a wide selection of Greek mezes, Italian style spaghettis and even French gratins.
The breakfast buffet focuses on local produce: homemade jams, pine honey, seasonal fruit, Greek yoghurt and house-blended muesli. There’s a pool bar and wooden deck overlooking the beach that seems made for sundowners.
You can stay on a half-board basis, but you might want the variety of eating out for a couple of evenings, so we'd advise booking B&B and having meals and drinks at Skites on an ad hoc basis. (Note that the bar and restaurant can only accept cash payments.) In Ouranoupolis (a 15-minute walk away), O Kritikos has an impressive wine cellar and exhaustive seafood menu, including stewed octopus and excellent lobster spaghetti, which makes up for the churlish service.