The buildings of the all-white Anemi Folegandros look, from a distance, like giant sugar cubes overlooking the turquoise Aegean. And, once you get up close, this Greek-island getaway guarantees a stay as stylish as the views are stunning.
Noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm, but flexible subject to availability.
Double rooms from £160.28 (€187), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of €10.00 per room per night on check-in.
Rates generally include a la carte breakfast, local taxes and transfers to the port and heliport.
The hotel is home to the first (and only) yoga studio in Folegandros. Instructor Zoja's hatha-inspired classes will leave you energised and restored. She also offers Thai massages and facials – book your appointments at the front desk.
Anemi closes from the end of September until late May.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout, a tennis court (also used for basketball and football games) and a gym. In rooms: flatscreen TV, minibar, air-conditioning, Nespresso machines.
Our favourite rooms
The spacious Junior Pool Suites are honeymooners’ heaven. There’s a large bedroom and separate living room, and you can lounge in your private pool while admiring your sweeping sea views.
Lay out your lounger by the hotel’s main clifftop infinity pool to take in the stunning Aegean views.
Treatments take a traditional turn at Andelea Spa, where masseurs bring together ancient Cycladic healing methods and their three pillars of wellness (mindfulness, relaxation, and bodywork) to create a space so serene you'll think Hygieia has just swept through. There's also a nail salon and outdoor gym (perhaps not best in succession); and guided yoga and reiki classes are held in the surrounding vineyards.
Bring your camera or easel to capture scenes of the ever-changing sea and sky.
The hotel – and rocky Folegandros itself – isn't particularly suited to wheelchair users.
Welcome. Cots and extra beds are free for under-5s and €40–80 a night for older children; you’ll find highchairs and a kids’ menu in the restaurant. Babysitting is available upon request and upon availability.
Sit outside by the pool, which is lit enchantingly in the evening. Or, cosy up on the soft seating tucked away in the back of the restaurant indoors.
Relax: don’t dress up for dinner. Jeans or even shorts are fine.
Enjoy innovative dishes inspired by Aegean islands favourites, such as orzo with langoustines and lemon zest. The small, intimate restaurant is a slick space decorated in dark shades, in contrast to the hotel’s gleaming white exterior. It also extends outside, around the main pool.
Sip a mojito with mint leaves freshly picked from the hotel’s garden at the Yellow Bar; there’s a lengthy cocktail list and an extensive array of whiskeys. If you’ve got any special cocktail requests, the accommodating barman will happily go off menu.
Tuck into breakfast from 8.30am to 11am, and lunch or dinner until 11pm. The last drinks are poured in the restaurant and bar at 11pm
The tiny, unspoilt island of Folegandros is one of the southwestern Cyclades, which dot the jewel-toned Aegean sea. Anemi Folegandros is perched on the isle’s east coast.
The most convenient airport is on Santorini, 45 minutes from Folegandros via boat or 18 minutes away by helicopter. Fly to Santorini National Airport (www.santorini-airport.com) from international destinations including London, Manchester, Rome, Paris and Barcelona.
If you choose to rent a car (or a scooter) to explore the island, there’s free parking on-site (rent on the mainland and bring it over on the ferry). If you choose not to drive, the local bus should be all you need to get around tiny Folegandros.
Room rates include hotel transfers from the local port (five minutes away) or the nearby helipad. Boat journeys from the port of Piraeus in Athens take from four to six hours, and if you’re coming from Santorini the daily catamaran takes less than an hour (the hotel are happy to book transfers in advance, including a five-minute transfer between the port and the hotel). Check www.openseas.gr for up-to-date timings – the catamaran runs daily between June and 15 September. There are also daily connections between Folegandros and many of the neighbouring islands.
Worth getting out of bed for
Folegandros is a relatively unspoilt island, where the main attractions are the views and the pristine beaches. The nearest shore to Anemi is a pebbly swimming spot, but there are plenty of sandy beaches surrounding the island, ranging from popular sun traps to hideaways you can only reach by boat.
The island’s mediaeval settlement, Kastro, is an amazing clifftop spot with spectacular views. Or, get a glimpse of Chrysospilia, on the northeast side of Folegandros. The 300m cave, tucked in the edge of a cliff 30m above the Aegean, has ancient names scrawled into its walls, but currently it can only be viewed by boat.
The fresh fish on offer at the Good Heart, a very traditional, 100-year-old taverna, is excellent. Tucked away in an alley behind the port, the Good Heart is run by four generations of one family, including the great grandmother. For a fancier dining experience, Eva’s Garden is a beautiful restaurant in Folegandros town, which spills out on to the lane and into its small garden, scented with jasmine, lavender and herbs. The gourmet Mediterranean cuisine (made with locally grown ingredients) and stylishly romantic setting make Eva’s Garden an ideal date-night hideaway.
‘Nothing,’ the receptionist smiles at us, knowingly.
We’ve just arrived at Anemi Folegandros and have asked what there is to do on the namesake 32-square-mile island. I smile back, confused, and then look at Mr Smith nervously. I don’t know what to do with this information. I’m not one for doing nothing. I live in London! I work on a newspaper! Every day represents a deadline for getting out there, conquering the world, pulling oneself up another rung. I can’t do nothing. And not for 48 hours. But that’s just what we do. And what a place to (not) do it in.
Folegandros, a tiny island smack in the middle of the Cyclades, is practically not on the map. In the lead up to our minibreak, Mr Smith and I are met with blank stares when we say we’re going there. When mention we’re going to Santorini for a few days first, the blank looks transform into smiles. Everyone knows Santorini, which is a 45-minute boat ride away. Lucky for the Folegandrians, very few know Folegandros.
Arriving at the port of Karavostasis via a bumpy five-hour hydrofoil ride from Athens, I wonder how anyone makes it here. There’s no direct flight (there are some to Santorini), so up until now you needed Popeye’s sea legs and you had to be happy to listen to folks throwing up around you. As we disembark, it quickly becomes clear why people make the trip.
The village looks like a 1970s postcard that’s only just turned up after decades being stuck down the back of a sorting-office radiator. It’s the Dorian Gray of holidays. The green-grey waters off the pebble beach are dotted with ramshackle fishing boats over which tanned young men dangle their fishing rods. Wooden cabanas double up as beach bars. We spy an old woman not unlike Nana Mouskouri kicking back in a deckchair with a glass of red in hand.
Next to the jetty where our boat dropped us is a blackboard with bus times scribbled in chalk. With one bus an hour to cover the entire island and another sign advertising ‘the only taxicar on the island!’ we realise this is no Florida Keys. Thankfully, we have a lift waiting for us – for the whole two-minute drive to Anemi.
From a distance Anemi hides its luxe well. Strict building regs means that Anemi’s architects had to create a 44-room complex that blended with the local centuries-old houses. From the road it’s all tiny whitewashed sugar-cube two-storey buildings set amid a desert-like landscape that, Mr Smith, notes excitedly, befits a Star Wars set. But after checking in, the luxury, while still quiet, is very much on show.
Mr Smith remarks upon walking into our junior pool suite it’s like a swish Wendy house for grown-ups. It’s so well equipped (kitchenette, terrace, DVD, iPod dock) that you could holiday here for a week and never have to set foot inside the main hotel. The double kingsize bed is gratuitously vast – that night I have to roll across to reach for Mr Smith. Plus, if we’d been in any kind of sociable mood (we aren’t) and we made friends, we could invite them to kip over on the sofa bed.
The view from our suite is so perfect it’s like the kind of fake picture window you can buy from out-of-town furniture stores. The sea, 300 metres walk away, is visible from every lookout. If that isn’t blue enough, the suite’s private pool breaks up the vista.
It’s so cleverly designed that despite the terrace being overlooked by other rooms, there is complete privacy while you’re in the pool. Filled with sudden, uncharacteristic body confidence, we whip off our clothes for a skinny dip; the attentive gardener who moments later pops over the bush with a pair of secateurs is commendably discreet in his total embarrassment.
Mortified at having already flashed the locals, we head for the main building and the restaurant’s shaded outdoor tables overlooking the Olympic-scale seawater pool. Anemi’s food is fantastic all day, but its breakfast is fit for the Greek gods. We order the Folegandros bun – a bagel-like pastry coated with honey and filled with chopped tropical fruit and cheese – and quickly discover it’s a king among bakes. The next morning, knowing this is our last chance to scoff, we panic-order four to the waitress’s quietly horrified reaction; she then watches on as we bashfully leave half.
After gorging, we roll to the pool and wait half an hour before ordering pancakes and milkshakes to be delivered to our loungers. (Did I mention I’m pregnant?) Told you there was nothing to do. Which, really, we quickly come to realise is just what you want. No-guilt lazing. This is a hotel built not to be left. Even the kids here are experts in doing nada. The kids’ room is a lesson in minimalism and the few rug rats there largely snooze in the sun and play on white iPads.
As Londoners who don’t know a good thing (relaxation) when it hits us, later that day we take the (only) boat trip around the island. We stop at five beaches, diving off the back of the boat (I plopped) into the clearest green waters. Lunch is made by the mother of the woman who sells the tickets at the island’s only travel agency – cheeses, meats, melon and a glass of rakomelo (grappa with honey), it’s more Greek god food.
Realising all we’ve done is eat, we take the bus up the dirt track road to Chora, the island’s main village and zigzag up the path to the Church of Panagia for a bird’s-eye view of the clifftop village and the sprawling landscape of rock and sea. We look at each other. There’s nothing to do for nautical miles around. ‘Let’s book in for more doing nothing next year,’ smiles Mr Smith. ‘I rather like it.’