The Kardamyli Hideaway

Kardamyli, Peloponnese, Greece
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The Kardamyli Hideaway

Kardamyli, Peloponnese, Greece

A historic stone tower house, with artfully restored interiors and a patio garden, in one of our favourite coastal villages in Greece (sleeps 4-5)

A historic stone tower house, with artfully restored interiors and a patio garden, in one of our favourite coastal villages in Greece (sleeps 4-5)

Hidden away in the southern Peloponnese, the grown-up fishing village of Kardamyli is an utterly charming spot. Tucked in the shadow of giant Mt. Taygetus, halfway down the rugged Mani peninsula, it looks west into the placid Messinian Sea. Sunsets are fabulous here. The area is rich with ancient villages, wild flowers, limestone gorges, frescoed Byzantine chapels, silvery olive groves, hiking paths and clear blue seas.

Back in medieval times, local chieftains built stone tower houses several storeys high, with small windows and walled courtyards, to gain supremacy. This is based around one such tower, beautifully restored and fused with an adjoining three-storey house, to create a gorgeous holiday home for 4-5. There are three bedrooms (1 double, 1 twin,1 single), a double-height living space, a vaulted kitchen, and outdoor patio dining under the orange trees. It's a few minutes' walk to lovely tavernas and bars, well stocked groceries and boutiques, and the town's pretty horseshoe fishing harbour; a few more to its long, empty beach. A week here - or even 4-5 days if time is tight - will restore your sanity, strength and joie de vivre. Two weeks, and you might want to move in. We certainly did.

Highs

  • We love the sympathetic restoration - warm orange stones and old arched doorways combined with contemporary comforts inside
  • It's the perfect size for a family of 4-5, with a cot available too
  • Rates are very reasonable for a house of this size, especially compared to two or three hotel rooms
  • Plus you get a small garden, a dining patio, a sitting room and a kitchen for easy home-cooked meals
  • Unlike most holiday villas, you can arrive any day of the week, and stay as long as you like (at least 2 nights)

Lows

  • You're towards the back of the village, so views are mostly of neighbouring buildings and the mountains behind
  • There's no pool, nor air-con (but portable fans and thick walls do the job)
  • Outdoor space is limited to a patio with dining area, and a small walled garden with citrus trees
  • The house's layout is quirky, with each of the 3 bedrooms on a different level
  • If you can't find a flight to nearby Kalamata, it's a 3.5-hour drive from Athens (mostly on easy motorway)

Best time to go

April, May, September and October are the ideal months in our opinion: warm but rarely hot, with empty beaches and cheaper deals. In spring there are wild flowers, in autumn the sea is warm - take your pick. June is lovely too, but hotter. July and August see a modest influx of (mostly Greek) visitors, but nothing like the crowds you get on the islands. The busiest times are in fact mid May (for the jazz festival) and early October (a boutique literary festival). The house is normally closed from November-March.

Our top tips

Bring beach sandals or jelly shoes as the coast here is mostly pebbly; firm hiking shoes and long trousers if you plan to explore on foot (the terrain is rocky with some prickly shrubs); and buy the Anavasi "Exo Mani 8.1" map and Sunflower "Southern Peloponnese" guidebook before you leave, as the village bookshop has closed.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
  • House Rental
  • 3 bedrooms
  • Self-catering; restaurants nearby
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: Nov-March
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car not necessary
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

We loved the artful, sympathetic restoration courtesy of local architects Detale. Warm orange stones and reclaimed roof tiles, old arched doorways and alcoves, and small castle-like windows combine with contemporary furnishings and a chic, creamy palette inside. It feels like you're staying in a slice of history, but with 21st-century comforts.

Being a fusion of two protected buildings, each with three narrow storeys, it's no surprise that the layout is quirky. Reachable directly from the raised outdoor dining terrace, the heart of the house is on the upper ground floor: a double-height living room with sofas, eye-catching artworks (including a giant hanging tapestry), and a woodburner for cosy evenings in early spring or late autumn. There's also a quaint single bedroom with small shower room on this level.

A bespoke, bird-motif staircase leads up to a small mezzanine, off which lie the gorgeous twin bedroom with roof-level views (in some ways, the kids get the best deal here), and a compact shower room with porthole windows in the alcove.

On the lower ground-floor level, accessed either internally or directly from the garden, are the kitchen and the double bedroom, both with vaulted ceilings (they used to be water cisterns). The bedroom, in particular, has little natural light, apart from a tiny window and the arched external door; but this keeps it beautifully cool and quiet. There's also a shower bathroom on this level, and a laundry room.

Note that the house has no air-con, but thick walls and portable fans help keep it cool.

Features include:

  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • TV
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi
  • Wood-burner

Eating

The vaulted kitchen on the lower ground floor has all you need to prepare delicious meals: oven, ceramic hob, tall fridge-freezer, dishwasher, and stacks of pots, pans and utensils hidden behind hanging doilies.

In terms of indoor dining, there's a compact table for 4, or 5 at a push. But we reckon you'll have most - if not all - your meals on the outdoor dining terrace, sheltered between the two houses, with views over the lemon trees to the foothills of Mt. Taygetus. The only two downsides are that currently there is no shade or parasol here, and that shuttling between kitchen and dining terrace is a circuitous journey.

Kardamyli is blessed with some lovely tavernas and restaurants, from simple trad fare at Kiki's, just round the corner, to more upscale seafood at Harilaos overlooking the fishing harbour. And, on the sunset-facing sea terrace at Lela's, you can sample some of the most delicious Greek cuisine we've ever tasted - if you can get a table. There are also a few wine and cocktail bars, including cosy Tikla and chic Aquarella by the shore. As for provisions, there are two surprisingly well stocked mini-supermarkets just below the house, as well as a few delis along the main street.

Features include:

  • Coffee maker
  • Dishwasher
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
  • Oven
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Kardamyli is a lovely little village to potter around - there are clothes and jewellery boutiques, bars and pastry cafés, an enclosed fishing harbour and a small island you can swim to
  • The long town beach (10 mins walk) has mixed pebbles and sand, lovely clear water, and some loungers and parasols courtesy of two seafront tavernas (the further one, Elies, makes a great lunch stop)
  • The medieval settlement of old Kardamyli is worth a wander, for its imposing tower-house (museum) and pretty vernacular chapel (sadly locked every time we visit)
  • Peaceful footpaths, many of them on ancient cobbled routes, lead up into the Taygetus foothills; pack a picnic and plenty of cold water, and off you go
  • Or hike through the dramatic limestone gorge of Viros to the silent seclusion of Sotiros monastery
  • With a car or the local bus, you can head south to the secluded coves of Foneas or Delfinia (4-5km, seasonal snack bars); or to the sandy beaches at Stoupa (7-8km, Kalogria has SUPs and diving)
  • Hire mountain bikes or sea kayaks - ask at the 2407m outdoor shop - to explore off the beaten track on land or sea; or arrange a guided ascent of Taygetus' lunar summit

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming

Kids

We think this house works very well for a family with 2-3 children of school age, and/or with a baby - though we don't advise coming with roving toddlers due to the many unprotected steps and drops.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

There's a twin room on the mezzanine plus a single room on the upper ground

Cots Available

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Kardamyli beach
  • Sea-kayaking and SUP
  • Bikes for hire nearby

    Families Should Know:

    All three bedrooms are on different levels. There's no pool and outside space is limited. If you come with children under 18, parents are responsible for their safety, due to the many stairs.

  • Distances:

    • Airport: 45 minutes
    • Shops: 2 minutes
    Kid Friendly:

    Location

    The house is in the historic centre of the lovely coastal village of Kardamyli (or Kardamili), 45 mins' drive south of Kalamata in the Peloponnese.

    By Air
    Fly into Kalamata (45km), or Athens (300km / 3.5 hours) for a wider choice of flights.

    From the airport:
    Staying here has the advantage that you don't actually need a car as there are shops, restaurants and bars in walking distance, as well as the lovely town beach. So you could take a taxi or bus from the airport - there are several daily buses from Athens to Kalamata, and a few daily buses from Kalamata to Kardamyli. However, for most visitors, we think it's worth hiring a car in order to explore the region and other beaches nearby.

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

    Airports:

    • Kalamata 47.0 km KLX
    • Athens 300.0 km ATH

    Other:

    • Beach 0.3 km
    • Shops 0.1 km
    • Restaurant 0.1 km

    Rates for The Kardamyli Hideaway

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