A Greek Odyssey
Jamie Christon discovers that Corfu is a real gem of an island with its diamond being a brand new adults-only hotel
Corfu, to me, was synonymous with my childhood. When I grew up in the 1970s, it was seen as a bit of British playground and in the 1980s was a popular island party destination. Since then it seems to have mellowed, and this has allowed its Corfiot, Venetian and more Italian influences to shine and flourish. It glistened into view as my plane circled the island before landing in the north of this gem of a place.
Sitting on a sun soaked coastal hillside, the MarBella Nido Suite Hotel and Villas are nestled into the south east corner of this island. Only a year old, this hotel has celebrated joining Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), which prides itself on being a collection of boutique and independently owned hotels, hand-picked and exclusive.
With uninterrupted views across the Ionian Sea towards mainland Greece and north towards Albania this beauty of tranquillity, style and grace met with a grin on my face having escaped a cold and grey English morning. Nido, which is derived from the Italian meaning ‘Nest’, defiantly embraced me as I arrived and immediately engulfed me in its warm and intimate environment.
What impressed me from the moment I entered the hotel was not only the stylish, chic and Italian influenced architecture but the modern twist and gorgeous, friendly staff. I had never been here before, but within an instant felt relaxed, at home and ready for some rest. Marbella Nido offers a range of individually designed junior suites, deluxe suites and villas, all of which offer those horizon lookouts across the sea.
Perfectly pitched at couples and stressed out singles like me, with each elegant suite having its own private pool or terrace whirlpool, the whole hotel, despite having 70 suites felt quiet, calm and thoroughly at peace with itself. There is a large, trendy sun deck, with infinity pool and bar for those who want to mingle, but a reason for staying here is ‘Nido’ or to nest. Large spacious rooms, modern, powerful rain-head showers, and that private secluded terrace with pool meant most guests seem to end up enjoying being cocooned in their suite away from the hustle and bustle of modern day life.
Don’t worry about the fact the hotel is on a hillside. The hotel comes equipped with 24/7 chauffeured golf carts to pick you up from your room and deposit you safely anywhere in the hotel without you needing to make any effort.
If you do enjoy a stretch, each meandering lane towards the top of the hotel is set off with gardens of lavender, blossom and wildflowers that add to the feeling of being deep in a traditional Corfiot village. Then down to the hotel’s beach, separated by the coastal road where you can enjoy the sun, sand and paddle in the glistening sea, this place has an answer for everything.
As expected with five-star opulence, the hotel is well equipped with a modern sea view gym and a menu of spa therapies and treatments ranging from aromatherapy massages to a full body scrub using natural Greek ingredients. I sampled late one afternoon the ‘new moon’ spa experience where for 50 minutes, I was consumed with pure essential oils rich in nutrients and vitamins coupled with a Mediterranean facial. Then back to my private terrace to soak up the rest of the afternoon’s sunshine in total peace and quiet.
With adults in mind, the hotel dining experience is smart and yet relaxed. Again with expansive seas views, the San Giovanni restaurant and Apaggio Gourmet, à la carte restaurant offered two selective styles of eating both of a very high standard. I was greeted at every meal by the warm, attentive staff and at breakfast was offered a hot and cold buffet style range of Italian influenced, Greek and British dishes with fresh chef-made omelettes, bread, cheeses. Evening meals were a delight on the eye with a carefully crafted buffet with some to die for desserts along with an exceptional range of Greek wines.
Alternatively, across the other side of the restaurant, you could enjoy a la carte menu looking out towards the sea or back into the hotel’s glazed wine cellar.
It does not end there. The MarBella Nido sits alongside its sister hotel The Marbella Corfu. Accessible by golf cart or on foot, close but far enough away this larger property offers a broader range of dining opportunities and can be used by Nido guests. It was pleasant to pop over and have a drink on their terrace and enjoy their themed restaurants, but it was equally satisfying to be able to quietly disappear back towards the tranquillity of MarBella Nido and home to my nest.
Despite only being on the island for a short time, I managed to head towards Corfu Old Town or Kerkyra to see what the fuss was all about. Corfiots are unhurried people who bask in casual living and are very proud of their ancestry and history. The old town smacks of being a former British colony and alongside the historic fort is a perfectly formed and manicured cricket pitch and bandstand. There was no game being played the day I visited the town, but I imagined long warm sunny afternoons watching the locals play under a shady parasol with glimpses of the sea in the distance.
The cricket pitch is surrounded by Georgian architecture with English and French influence and small high sided Venetian style buildings creating intriguing pedestrian cut-throughs to secluded restaurants and majestic homes lavished with fresh and abundant window troughs of blooming fowlers and plants. The shopping was excellent in and amongst the narrow ancient streets, and after an exhaustive tour around the streets sitting in one of the many street side, alfresco cafes was great for people watching and letting the time pass gracefully.
In and amongst the shops, galleries and cafés sit several churches, many open to the public. The red bell tower of Agois Spyridon holds the mummified corpse of the islands patron saint. You can watch the locals pay their respects and enjoy the architecture of these holy buildings. Across the road is the Old Fort and series of museums, equally enjoyable to meander around and let time drift.
The beauty of the Island of Corfu is its size. Every part of the island is easily accessible in a short space of time. The north east was made famous by The Durrells, and further south stands The Achilleion Palace famous in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only. Prince Philip was born just south of the island’s capital in a villa surrounded by forest, again open to the public.
It was, however, back to my nest after an afternoon exploring the delights of the old town and a jaunt down the coastal road, through villages and skirting the many beaches until Marbella Nido came into view again. Same greeting, immaculate service and stylish surroundings do mean this place lives up to its company’s motto of ‘Let us spoil you’.
Featured Package Details
Bed & Breakfast (BB)
Valid for travel 17/10 – 31/10
Book by 15/09/2019
Includes Private Car return Transfers
Flights with EasyJet from London Gatwick
t: 01204 867 139 w: destinology.co.uk
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