Villa Mandarin

Faralya, Mediterranean Coast, Turkey Book from

In the unspoilt wilds of seaside Faralya, a luxurious but laid-back hotel offering a romantic little hideaway with a homely touch
Around a hairpin bend, on a mountain backroad, this small, perfectly formed hotel peeps at the Mediterranean through pine and olive trees. Behind its secretive stone walls, there are 2 villas; one old, one new (the latter was custom built, in traditional style, in 2007), set in lush gardens, a profusion of fruit and flowers, sprays of bougainvillea spilling over balconies. You will be greeted by Aysegul, the charming general manager, and Pacha, the big soppy dog, and shown to one of 6 lovely rooms.

The villa’s owner Ghislain is well-travelled (born in Izmir, his father was French, his mother British), but this is where his heart lies. And he invites his guests to make themselves at home. In the lounge, help yourself to a drink and watch the chef preparing dinner - a parade of Turkish dishes - in the open-plan kitchen. On a terrace by the pool, on your veranda, watch the sun go down over the Bay of Fethiye to a light drift of, say, classic Billie Holiday (Ghislain is keen on jazzy-bluesy music, antiques, real fires, old leather chairs). Wake up to the natural joys of Faralya - a string of rustic hamlets, pine forests and rocky bays, Mount Babadag, beautiful Butterfly Valley. It’s only 10 minutes' drive from Olu Deniz, but a world away from the package-tour crowds.

Highs

  • The stunning scenery - this is one of the most unsullied corners of Turkey’s southern coast
  • The walk down to Kabak beach - through pine-scented woodland, down steep cliff paths, to a magical little bay
  • Spacious, luxurious rooms with kingsize beds, spa baths and verandas or small, private gardens
  • Delicious and generous 4- or 5-course dinners included in the price
  • Dining outdoors on a warm evening under a starry sky: candles on the tables, the air perfumed with jasmine and oleander, a hum of cicadas... divine

Lows

  • Full pre-payment at the time of booking and strict cancellation policy
  • The rather-hairpin drive to Faralya - not recommended for novice hire-car drivers with a nervous disposition
  • Not the place for noisy night owls: there’s no night life to speak of, other than a quiet drink after dinner. Guests tend to retire early
  • Though rich in walks and wildlife, Faralya is off the beaten track in terms of guide-book attractions. You will want transport although there are regular minibuses during the day from Fethiye to Faralya via Ovacik and Oludeniz
  • The sheer glass, bare-all bathroom doors - we kept walking into ours!

Best time to go

Unusually, for this otherwise seasonal region, the hotel is open all year round. The winter can be chilly and very wet at times, but it’s peaceful and, here, by the open fires, very cosy. Spring is glorious (April/May is one of the best times to visit southern Turkey); temperatures start to climb in June and reach a zenith in July and August (the busy high season), before cooling to a more comfortable autumn temperature. September/October is another great time to visit.

Our top tips

The Mandarin artfully combines luxury, privacy, rustic charm and pure escapism - a great recipe for a chilled and very romantic holiday. And because of the tucked-away, back-water location, you could laze your way through a week and still come away feeling like you’d seen a bit of real Turkey.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 8
  • Restaurant + bar
  • Over 13s only, unless exclusive rental
  • 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
Room: Deluxe Suite

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Radio
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Simply lounge around by the pool, on the low sunbeds or in a little shady corner of the garden. Some guests barely leave the hotel
  • Others come here specifically for the walking and the hotel has immediate access to some wonderful walks: beautiful Kabak beach is a 45-minute hike along cliff paths through olive groves and pine forest before dropping down to the sea. Aktas (20-30 minutes' walk) leads to a tiny beach/ rock shelf, where you can swim in clear water
  • For a more challenging walk (more of a climb) try Butterfly Valley, an hour-long descent along steep, stony goat tracks to a glittering bay and sandy beach. The deep costal canyon is home to some 40 varieties of butterflies and though it’s a popular stop-off for tourist boats during high season, the scenery is stunning. The Lycian Way footpath is a longer walk and the ancient, waymarked route runs just behind the hotel (500km from Antalya to Fethiye)
  • Take a dolmus (or taxi) into Olu Deniz (a 10-minute drive). It’s crowded, touristy and best served off-season, but the beach - the famous lagoon - is worthy of its reputation, plus there are numerous restaurants and lively bars if you fancy a bit of urban life
  • For a quieter, more civilised beach experience, head for Kidrak (10 minutes by car or dolmus). There is an entrance fee (and hire charges for sunbeds and umbrellas), but it’s a peach of a beach - with shaded picnic tables, loos, showers and a snack bar - and in the quieter months (June or October) you can virtually have the place to yourself
  • A good day out is a visit to Fethiye (21km), combining shopping (from fashion stores to carpet shops and souk-like markets) and sightseeing (Lycian tombs, Roman theatre, the Archaeological Museum) with hanging out in harbour bars or lunching in one of the town's many excellent restaurants; there's an International Culture and Arts Festival mid-May
  • Arrange a tour, or a visit, to one of the region’s ancient cities - the ruined remains of the Roman and Lycian civilisations are everywhere. Our favourites are Tlos (for its rock tombs, fortified acropolis and atmospheric theatre) and the lesser known Cadianda, near Uzumlu, in the hills north of Fethiye. The ruins of Pinara or Patara are also within easy day-tripping distance
  • The hotel can organise a variety of tours and activities: a cruise on a gulet (traditional wooden boat), guided archaeological tours, scuba diving in Olu Deniz or Fethiye, horse riding, waterskiing, paragliding over Fethiye bay off the high peak of Mount Babadag (and walking from Kirme is part of the challenge)
  • Villa Mandarin has many hidden gems to disclose to its guests and can arrange all sorts of excursions, such as a 4 person private boat trip to a hidden beach only reached by the sea, or a lesser known (and therefore less touristy) archaeological attraction nearby...

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Paragliding
  • Private guided tours
  • Rafting
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Scuba diving courses
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Waterskiing
  • Wildlife
  • Windsurfing

Kids

The hotel is designed for coupled-up adults and operates a no-children policy (over 13 years only) - though family groups can rent the entire property.

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
8/
Value
9/
Overall

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