“In the unspoilt wilds of seaside Faralya, a luxurious but laid-back hotel offering a romantic little hideaway with a homely touch”
The décor is typical of Mediterranean Turkey’s traditional style (raw stonework, terracotta, open fireplaces, kilims on tiled floors, dark wood, exposed timbers), but the Mandarin’s version is more than a cut above the average. In the 8 bedrooms, you will find bespoke, hand-carved furniture (some made from reclaimed wood shipped down from the Black Sea coast), antique rugs on Turkish marble floors, kingsize beds dressed in raw silk linens, wrought iron lamps and fresh flowers. The bathrooms are contemporary, with marble and glass showers, glass basins, glass doors.
There are 2 suites in the original Villa Mandarin (the old and new buildings are separated by the pool terrace and garden): both have a cool, airy living room, bedroom and a terrace. The Deluxe Suite on the upper-floor has a double bed and 2 singles, a generous private terrace with a whirlpool tub and fantastic views of the sea; the Junior Suite on the ground-floor has 3 single beds and a private garden with an outdoor whirlpool tub. But the best rooms, we think, are the 6 Standard Rooms in the main house - particularly the balcony rooms on the upper floor. These are the same size as the Junior Suite, but are all doubles.
All have marble floors (soft pink matt or polished cream), kingsize beds (some are four-posters), large, panelled whirlpool spa bathtubs (they take an age to fill, but what a treat), working open fireplaces and private outdoor space. Upper rooms have balconies with lovely views of the sea; 2 of the downstairs rooms have little gardens, shaded with pine and olive trees. Rooms 2 and 3, one above the other, are the slightly smaller corner rooms - their Jacuzzis tucked into a niche which forms a little tower up the side of the villa.
All rooms are air-conditioned and equipped with a beverage tray, a minibar fridge, flat-screened television and DVD player (there is a small library of DVDs to choose from in the lounge), robes, slippers, hairdryers, toiletries and outdoor furniture.
Stays are on a half-board basis, unless you opt out. A typical Mandarin day starts with a leisurely breakfast - fresh fruit and juices, a traditional Turkish plate of white cheese, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, crusty bread and eggs to order - served, usually, in the garden on a table-for-two laid with white linen and fresh flowers. The jams and marmalades are homemade; the eggs are courtesy of Mandarin’s own chickens.
At lunch, guests usually fend for themselves (though there is a lunch menu), but most drift back to the hotel in time for afternoon tea and cakes, included in half-board tarif. And only on rare occasions do they choose to miss out on dinner. The evening meal is one of the highlights of staying here, an occasion to be savoured; the food, fresh, varied, authentic and plentiful. And on warm evenings served on candlelit tables in the garden or on the upper floor of the cardak, the raised wooden platform which has the hotel’s best views of the sea. On wet or chilly nights, the tables are laid up in the lounge area - where you can see the food being prepared in an open-plan kitchen. Or you can ask to dine in your room at no extra cost.
Dinner begins with 4 mezes-style salads - mainly dips (made with aubergines, perhaps, or chick peas), served with warmed flat bread. Two hot starters follow (a soup and a savoury flan, or a typical Turkish cheese pastry). Then comes the main course: usually a meat or fish dish with fresh vegetables, pasta or bulgar wheat (vegetarian meals are available on request). You will be loosening your belts by the time the pudding arrives - fresh fruit or a sugary homemade sweet. From the bar, you can order cold beers and good, organic Turkish wines: the latter will seem a tad expensive, but thanks to heavy taxes, this is the norm in Turkey these days.
If you want to eat out at lunchtime or, for a change of scene, in the evening, your best bet is to take a taxi, or a dolmus, to Olu Deniz (if you don’t mind braving the rather hairy road that takes you there). There are also a few small, local family-run restaurants nearby. One of the best is the Olive Tree - on a cliff-top terrace overlooking Kabak beach. If it's an authentic snack that you're looking for, join the locals at Cezayir Usta's doner kebab shop in Fethiye for a taste of Turkey's famous fast, flame-grilled fare.