The Greek Gods must have had it good all those years ago – with the island of Mykonos as their playground. It would have provided just the right mix of glamour, beauty and mischief for the fun-loving deities. But then again they wouldn’t have been able to stay at this incredible boutique hotel in Mykonos.
Taxi-sharing from the airport, we met a couple who proclaimed that we’d just arrived at ‘The best place in the world. Fact.’ (This was their 27th trip to the island). So we were in high spirits as we wended our way around the coastal road, heading north to Agios Stefanos and the demure, cliffside Mykonos Grace, painted in the requisite white. In fact, white is the watchword at Mykonos Grace; from the double-sized sun loungers on the rooftop pool terrace to the flowing cotton uniforms of the super-friendly staff.
Thirst-quenching, freshly squeezed mango juice in hand, we were given our own guided tour of the hotel – spa, lounge with free internet, DVD-packed library, terrace – complete with telescope for nightly star-gazing – and finally our westward-facing room with king-sized bed (white again, of course). A splash of colour is provided by a huge modern painting over the bed and from the balcony – which overlooks the invitingly azure Aegean sea and the island of Delos beyond.
Seriously, is there anyone who isn’t impressed when there are enough bathroom goodies to suitcase-stash a tonne upon departure? The double-basin, tiled bathroom with huge shower was generously stocked with lots of yummy Korres products, but we’d enjoy that later. We had a date with some sunshine first. De-robed and cream-slathered, we emerged once more upstairs at the rooftop pool and claimed our right to the most superior-positioned lounger for sunbathing à deux. With a carafe of Greek white wine and a Mythos beer for Mr Smith, we snacked on baked aubergine rolls stuffed with local manouri cheese and a marinated cherry tomato and grilled halloumi salad. Below us the Aegean glittered in the sunlight and we lazily watched the yachts drift into the town’s harbour to dock for the evening.
Jumping out of our skin as a knock came on our bedroom door, we later woke from our early evening siesta – much needed on this island where the best time to eat is 10pm and the bars are rocking until dawn. Our interruption was a delivery of chilled water – for which we were grateful – even if I did look like a petrified meerkat in the headlights as I opened the door.
As we wanted to stay local for the evening, the handsome assistant manager Costas recommended an authentic Greek taverna up in the village behind the hotel. A steep climb up stone stairs cut into the hillside revealed a traditional restaurant: To Koutouki tou Limniou, where we dined on huge plates of tender barbecued lamb chops, local bread and oil, and the most enormous Greek salad we’ve ever chomped through. We ordered carafe after carafe of the delicious local wine (top tip: carafes are amazingly good value at three euros – don’t order wine by the glass), while raucous groups of locals next to us chattered away in Greek, their tables laden with fresh grilled meat. At the end of supper, the (rather taciturn) waiter brought us two shot glasses of Mastika (a Greek liquor made from the resin of the indigenous mastic tree), a liking for which I developed throughout our stay, much to the amusement of some of the trendier bars on the island.
The next day we headed to Stefanos beach below the hotel, which is dotted with loungers and umbrellas and home to one of prettiest tavernas I’ve ever been to – all baby-blue wooden posts, banquette tables facing the sea and a vine canopy to shelter us from the sun. Ordering freshly grilled sardines, Mr Smith was in raptures, proclaiming they were the best he’s ever tasted, while I washed down yet another tastebud-tinglingly flavoursome Greek salad with more wine.
Whisking us into town that evening, the hotel’s driver dropped us off at the glamorous Santa Marina hotel for dinner. Hollywood stars such as Harrison Ford and Roman Polanski have enjoyed the five-star privacy of this place – and when tasting the food, we discovered why. Dining alfresco, we tucked into exquisite tuna sashimi and California rolls, accompanied by warm sake. OK, possibly a strange choice when on a Greek island, but Mykonos leads the way in the designer stakes; anything goes.
Determined to experience a taste of the island’s nightlife before we left, we took a taxi to the so-called 'Little Venice' area of town. We soon found ourselves in Caprice: a snug bar just by the water’s edge, packed in with hundreds of revellers ordering obscene amounts of colourful cocktails, while a DJ provided a mix of Eurotrash and classic pop. A lethal concoction. Finally escaping at 04h and stumbling through the maze of tiny streets, we hailed a taxi and returned to the peace and privacy of the glorious Grace.
Small but luxuriously formed, the white-hot Mykonos Grace offers an elegant and intimate boutique hotel experience on one of the Aegean’s most vibrant islands. Leaving the next morning (late check-out? ‘Of course, no problem!’), we took one last look back at our cotton-draped king-size and sun-warmed terrace agreeing on one thing: Mission Relaxation accomplished.