A former family holiday-home that’s been carefully expanded over the decades, Danai Beach Resort & Villas in Halkidiki is a classic Greek summer-holiday stay. With its private beach, serene spa, three restaurants, plenty of childcare and first-class service, it’s the sort of place you won’t want to leave for your entire trip.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of Greek red wine, and toys (for little Smiths) in your room on arrival
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £454.04 (€510), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates usually include a buffet breakfast.
There’s a noticeably high staff-to-guests ratio, so you’ll always be able to find someone to fetch whatever you need. If you’re even just slightly interested in wine, ask for a tour of the cellar – it’s packed with 850 bottles from all over the world and inherited from the owners’ collection. Allow 45 minutes down there with the fantastically knowledgeable sommelier (tasting sessions are also available, and if you fancy taking anything back home all bottles are available to buy).
From the end of September to the end of April each year.
At the hotel
Spa, gym, beach, watersports, classes, crèche, kids club, free WiFi throughout. Every room has a flatscreen TV, DVD player, Bose WiFi music system, Nespresso machine, minibar, Bulgari bath products, air-conditioning, tea- and coffee-making kit, and black-out curtains.
Our favourite rooms
The Mediterranean Two-Bedroom Suite is a star pick, with its large, airy living room and bright bedrooms. The size of the suite means it's perfect for families, and there’s a terrace for alfresco dining and sunbathing with sea views, too.
Flanked by day-beds and palm trees, the large swimming pool has ever-attentive staff on hand to brings drinks to lounging guests. Children are welcome, too.
The indoor pool at Danai Spa is a great spot for rainy days. You’ll also find a sauna and steam room, and a full menu of spa and beauty delights in the five treatment rooms (many are also available in your own hotel room, too). Don’t miss the Cleopatra room with its golden bath tub. It’s quite something.
All the normal holiday garb will be useful at Danai, and the atmosphere is mostly informal. Bring a few smarter outfits for evenings out, and flat sandals for exploring the glorious beaches.
Most common areas aren’t wheelchair accessible, and the hotel isn’t ideal for guests who have trouble with steps.
Dogs are welcome at no charge – beds, bowls and food are supplied. Beach access for dogs is reserved for those whose masters are staying in a Beach Cabana. (All restaurants are dog free.) See more pet-friendly hotels in Halkidiki.
Danai is super child-friendly. There are kids' activities, a crèche, and lots of family-orientated restaurants on-site.
Kids sleep in baby cots (free) or extra beds (€100) added to their parents’ rooms.
Danai has a crèche for knackered parents to leave their sprogs, and can look after any children over four months old.
The Worldwide Kids Company team keep 4–11 year olds entertained at the free Danai Kids Club. Juniors can spend the day at the craft tables or take part in organised outdoor games and sports; book in advance, sessions are very popular. Most activities are free, but some (watersports, trips to the ice-cream parlour) are charged. Staff have a stash of snacks and fruit, and more substantial fare can be ordered via room service, if needed. There’s an indoor playroom with toys, books and puzzles – ideal for avoiding the midday sun, or if there's some unexpected rain.
The pool is perfect for children of all ages; parents who find the area a bit too splashy can retreat to the indoor pool at the spa.
Room service has plenty of kid-friendly options, and Andromeda and the Seahorse Grill are the best bets for families with younger children. Head to the Sea Side bar for a lighter options, where youngsters will feel very grown-up with their own special menus.
With more than 24 hours' advance warning, babysitters are available for €15 an hour for one child, €20 an hour for two children and €22 for three.
No need to pack
The hotel's well kitted-out, with highchairs, sterilisers, baby monitors, changing mats, pushchairs or buggies, swimming aids, toddler-proof toys, crayons/pens/pencils/paint and paper, craft materials and picture books.
Nappies, baby wipes and child-friendly snacks are all available to buy at Danai’s onsite village shop. There’s no formal baby-listening service, but baby monitors are available.
Grab a table with a view at the Seahorse Grill and watch the sun go down. For extra special meals, the incredible wine cellar seats up to eight for private dinners.
The kid-friendly restaurants are mostly informal; Squirrel is slightly smarter.
Danai's three restaurants give you a range of meal-time options. The most up-market of the three is Squirrel, where chef Vasilis Mouratidis serves up gourmet French flavours. For a particularly memorable evening, opt for the tasting menu. For dining en famille, Andromeda and the Seahorse Grill are both decidedly child-friendly from the welcoming service to the well-thought-out menus. Seahorse serves the most traditional Greek cuisine, and the relaxed Andromeda restaurant has an ever-changing menu of international dishes.
The laid-back Sea Side bar serves snacks and cocktails all day. With the superlative sea views and blue and white decor, you’ll feel like you’re out island-hopping without ever leaving the mainland. Children are welcome, and even have their own bar menu.
The day begins with breakfast in the Pavillion from 8am, and the bar closes after the last guest has gone to bed.
Plenty of grown-up and kid-friendly dishes from the Andromeda and Seahorse Grill menus can be delivered to your room, day or night.
Halkidiki is in northern Greece, with three peninsulas jutting out into the Aegean: Danai’s at the top of Sithonia, in the centre.
Touchdown at Thessaloniki’s airport, just under an hour’s drive away, with direct flights from across Europe.
If you’re planning on adventuring around the coast and forests of Halkidiki, renting a car’s a good idea. Free self-parking and valet are both available onsite.
Worth getting out of bed for
The private beach is, as you’d expect in this part of the world, a pretty great place to spend the day swimming and sunbathing. It's also great for little Smiths, as the waves are very gentle and there are lifeguards on dut). It’s terrifically well organised: you can get stuck into your sandcastle/book/nap/wave jumping and let the hotel’s beach boys (and girls) fetch your towels, lay out your lounger, and so on. Water sports include canoeing, wind surfing, scuba diving, water skiiing and snorkelling, and water aerobics classes are available on request in both the swimming pool and the sea. If you’d rather stay on dry land, perhaps hit the hotel’s tennis courts. The outdoor playground, with swings and a slide, is a highlight for families. When the sun isn't shining, cooking lessons from the chefs can be arranged, as can Greek, French, German and English lessons for adults and children. Feeling artistic? Painting and dancing instructors are standing by – just schedule a class. Personal trainers are on hand to help you keep up your fitness regime, and there are regular pilates and yoga classes.
The 18-hole Porto Carras golf course is a 20-minute drive from the resort, if you can tear yourself away from your lounger. Fancy heading out on a boat tour? Let hotel staff know. Mountain bikes and trail maps are available for more adventurous types: the dirt roads of Mount Itamos are a must for extreme-sports fans. A 20-minute drive away is Karidi beach, with its giant rocky outcrops and forrested backdrop. From Vourvourou, you’re also well placed to catch a charter boat from Ormos Panagias to Unesco World Heritage Site, Mount Athos (it’s home to some more than a thousand monks, and women and children are forbidden, but Athos Sea Cruises pass by several monasteries from the water).
Danai Beach Resort & Villas is designed as its own little village, complete with a boutique-lined main street (with the amusing moniker Danai 5th Avenue). You could easily spend your entire stay onsite, but if you’re not the type to stay put then get out and explore Halkidiki.
Down by Nikiti beach, a five-minute drive, Arsanas restaurant (+30 (0)2375 023235) serves modern Mediterranean/Greek fusion dishes on its sunny terrace – think crab salad with cucumber and sesame, or stuffed aubergine. There’s seating inside, too, if the sun’s scorching. Other restaurants that come highly recommended by the concierge include Kazanis (+30 (0)2375 023333), a seafood spot on the beach in Nikiti, and Boukadoura in Porto Koufo, with its vast menu of creative takes on local favourites – all using natural ingredients. In Neos Marmaras, fish restaurant Ta Kymata (‘the Waves’) (+30 (0)2375 071371) is a traditional Greek taverna that was opened by a local fisherman and his wife in 1950 and is still run by their family today.
The nearby village of Afytos on the Kassandra peninsula has a clutch of vibrant local cafés, perfect for people-watching and enjoying the sea views. Many of the restaurants, shops and café-bars were built by local craftsmen using native limestone, so are well worth a visit for history and architecture enthusiasts.
A 20-minute drive southeast from Danai is Ekies All Senses Resort in Vourvourou, where the beachside bar awaits if you’re after a change of scenery. Another option is 16th-century Arnaia, which is the largest in the village in the area, and has a wide selection of bars. Arrive early in the evening to grab a drink in the main square, and admire the brightly painted, traditional Macedonian buildings before sunset.
We called it the ‘Danai Effect’. It presented itself the moment we mentioned Halkidiki’s exclusive shoreside resort.
A week had slipped by – a sun-soaked, pine-infused few days of hot white beaches and turquoise water where we mingled with locals and tourists alike. But it was the second we dropped into conversation that we would be spending our last few days at this luscious hideaway that we’d see the reaction we coined the ‘Danai Effect’.
It would be a perceptible widening of the eyes, usually accompanied by an intake of breath, and a sudden straightening of posture. Always a slight pause, a general glazing over – then we would wait, we knew it would come: the stories would flood out.
About the time an extravagant friend threw a birthday here, in a vast villa where the roof retracted to reveal a star-studded sky halfway through dinner. That every surface was littered with objet d’art. That we mustn’t leave before trying the hotel’s restaurant the Squirrel (surely an implausible name) – hands down the best restaurant in Greece. Were we champagne drinkers, by the way? Danai’s wine cellar was stocked with bottles of bubbly flecked with 24-carat gold. And did we know the entire hotel was in fact hewn from one giant piece of marble?
We stopped trying to separate fact from fiction. Danai had achieved mythological status already, and that was pretty good going for Greece. The anecdotes usually ceased abruptly with an interruption from one of our darling yet rambunctious little Smiths. At that point, eyebrows were raised. It wasn't voiced but we could tell what they were thinking: are you actually going to take those wild-eyed scruff balls to Danai Beach Resort?
That was the plan. I have to say, we were a little scared and ready to be completely intimidated. But we weren’t prepared for what we found…
Yes, it was smart and extremely elegant. As you walked inside you got a feeling of complete peace and serenity that comes from such considered design. Rows of knee-high manicured hedges led the way to the white stucco reception which looked like more an Italian palazzo, with its sweeping staircase of marble leading and lines of terracotta pots spilling over with cerise petunias.
And yes, marble. They were right about that. Gleaming marble everywhere. Our suite, or rather two suites with an interconnecting door, two bathrooms and two separate loos (one for girls, one for boys) were glimmering with that opulently swirled marble. Our rooms were so spacious that you could actually quite easily (and thankfully) lose your children to another room, where soundproofing and double doors meant you couldn't even hear their squawks of joy as a water fight erupted in the dual shower wet room (freeing up plenty of time for mummy and daddy to enjoy their shower too).
And yes, around us were beautifully curated objects, on the walls were huge classical artworks and ornate gold gilded mirrors, antique clocks were discreetly ticking on mantelpieces, chandeliers glinted from high ceilings and bronze-edged glass tables held baskets of fruit, and bottles of Danai’s own wine. Certainly it was over-the-top lavish, but still comfortable.
Wherever we went in the hotel, we were struck by how friendly the multitude of staff were. As if by magic they appeared at the poolside, happy to entertain the children while we relaxed and swam. We spent an afternoon on kayaks gently paddling the mirror-like Sithonia sea. On our return we were greeted like long lost sailors – did we need more towels, water, surely a cocktail? Ice cream for the boys?
One chatty waitress told us that almost three quarters of guests are ‘repeaters’ who have been coming for many years. We were beginning to see why. Certainly, celebrities are in on the act. I shouldn't say but we breakfasted alongside an A-list actor, wife and young family. Surreally, our children played together, bonding over chocolate doughnuts from the buffet (which also includes homemade smoked salmon, five types of honey, eggs any way you could possibly conjure up plus champagne on ice) as us parents looked on benevolently, chatting about the weather.
The high point of our stay was dinner at the Squirrel (it really was called that). We arranged for a babysitter to the room so we could stay out late although, by the way, the free kids’ club stays open until 9.30pm. In fact, the staff opened up the entire restaurant just for us as opening night was officially the night after our departure.
Every table was laid with candles and starched white tablecloths yet we dined alone on the edge of the terrace with an ancient pine tree overhead, and an epic vista of the sea where sunset gradually gave way to an indigo velvet sky, pressed with diamonds. We worked our way through the delicate gastronomic menu, eating some of life’s finest food: lobster, crab, foie gras, sea bass and filet steak, all prepared in fresh and innovative ways to excite the senses. It was extraordinarily romantic.
So, do you see? Do you see what’s happened? Perhaps you’ve already noted my dreamy, wistful tone. I too have succumbed to the Danai Effect. I challenge anyone not to.