What’s that sound? That’d be the call of the wild. And you don’t get much closer to nature than at the Grand Forest Metsovo, where – even inside the hotel’s modern, low-rise cluster of buildings with their beamed feature ceilings, mountain views and cool, exposed stonework – you can almost feel the crunch of fallen pine cones beneath your feet. You’re a long way from Halkidiki hedonism and Faliraki foam parties here, where switched-off solitude and/or natural highs are the order of the day. Indeed, when gorging on fresh potato gnocchi with foraged mushrooms and fresh black truffle, or gazing out at snowy peaks from the glass-surrounded hydrotherapy pool, you might even imagine yourself on another planet altogether.
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A gift bag on departure; GoldSmiths get a 30-minute massage each
11am. Check-in 3pm. Early check-in and late check-out are accommodated where possible, though extra charges may apply. If rooms aren’t available, guests can store their luggage and make use of the changing rooms and shower in the spa.
Double rooms from £135.58 (€161), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional resort fee of €4.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates include breakfast in the restaurant, with buffet and à la carte options. Guests receive 30 minutes’ free use of the spa’s hydrotherapy pool, too.
Helpless souvenir addicts will be delighted to discover that they can scratch that particular itch even way out here in the Greek wilderness: the small hotel shop sells a variety of produce, arts and crafts, all of it local and most of it handmade.
At the hotel
Spa with hammam, sauna, hydrotherapy pool and massage-treatment area. Outdoor infinity pool (June-September). Restaurant and bar. Gym with some of the world’s best treadmill views. Free WiFi. In rooms: Nespresso coffee maker and pods, kettle, minibar, flatscreen TV. Carrera marble bathroom with dual sinks, bathtub, walk-in shower, bathrobes, slippers and organic Pure Herbs toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Dark woods, soft muted tones and rustic handwoven rugs inspired by the landscape and local Metsovo culture lend a natural feel to all 62 suites, each with a terrace or balcony from which to admire views of the great outdoors. The clue’s in the name of the Panorama Suite though. Here’s where you’ll get the clearest, most interrupted view of the mountains from your private balcony. The only things to break the silence here, as the sun retreats behind the mountains, are the distant whistle of a Balkan chamois, the clink of the ice in your single malt from the Lobby Bar’s extensive whisky collection and the crackle of winter logs in your open fire.
Sip herby signature cocktails by the rooftop infinity pool and challenge yourself to remain unmoved by the hypnotic vistas. The pool is open June to September and towels are provided.
Cocoon yourself inside the Fontus Spa’s treatment rooms, where subdued lighting and a wild variety of relaxing massage treatments, facials and scrubs may well render you horizontal for the rest of the day. The spa uses natural products with herbs and scents that evoke the pine forests just beyond the walls. The hydrotherapy pool, sauna, Jacuzzi and hammam are free for spa guests but a fee (€20 a day) applies for use by anyone not booked in for treatments. Kids can use the indoor pool until 12 noon.
You’re quite a schlep from civilisation here, so avoid packers’ regret by remembering you’ll need suitable footwear for all eventualities: flip-flops by the pool, smart shoes and strappy sandals in the restaurant, hiking boots for the forest. Likewise a small backpack is recommended if you want to make the best of the great outdoors. How else do you expect to get all those foraged truffles and pine cones back to the hotel?
If you ever required motivation to get in the gym, perhaps the mountain views from the treadmills at the Grand Forest Metsovo may finally persuade you to dig out those fetching spandex shorts and moth-eaten running shoes of yours.
There’s a kids’ area where parents can get creative and play with their little ones using the variety of toys, drawing materials and board games available. A babysitting service is available on request (72 hours advance notice required) at a rate of €20 a
Grand Forest Metsovo’s clever amphitheatrical design achieves two things: a seamless blend with its tumbledown mountain landscape and uninterrupted views from pool to restaurant to suite. Heck, even the interconnecting corridors have mountain views. But the hotel’s eco credentials don’t stop there. All of the restaurant ingredients are sourced from local farmers, and over 90 per cent are organic. Bespoke furniture throughout the hotel is handmade by local craftsmen, and handwoven Greek rugs grace bedrooms and hallways. All lighting is LED, all water is low-flow and bedding and towels are changed only on request. Grand Forest Metsovo is also working towards a no-plastic policy: you’ll notice there are only glass bottles in your minibar.
In a resort like this where mountain views are prized above all else, it stands to reason that al fresco terrace seats are in highest demand. Blankets are provided so you can even brazen it out when the weather turns chillier.
Something snappy for cute dinner selfies against the mountain backdrop. And maybe a sensible sweater for later in case the breeze picks up.
While the altitude from which Metsovo 1350m takes its name is unlikely to take your breath away, the food just might. Think honeyed Greek lamb with creamed fava beans, and handmade gnocchi served in a sauce exploding with local gruyere, mushroom and truffle flavours. The wine cellar groans with rich reds and zesty whites from the local Katogi Averoff winery, complemented by a fine selection of international favourites. In other words, you’re in luck: other than a smattering of tavernas in nearby Metsovo, this is the only restaurant for miles around, but it certainly bears multiple repeat visits.
A vast central fireplace and beamed dark-wood ceiling make the Lobby Bar a cosy and welcoming spot to while away the hours with a book and a coffee during the cooler months. In summer, it’s a lively and sociable space with an open terrace, serving snacks and light meals alongside a (literally) dizzying variety of Greek wines, forest-inspired cocktails and fine whiskys. A second bar area, The Pines, is available for private functions on request.
The Lobby Bar is open until midnight.
Available round the clock, with a limited selection in the wee small hours.
Egnatia Motorway - Intersection - 7A to Anilio Metsovo
Set in splendid pine-scented isolation on the slopes of the Pindus mountains with only native brown bears and golden eagles for company, Grand Forest Metsovo promises a wild side of Greece that only the intrepid few will ever experience.
The hotel is a spine-tingling 45-minute drive through mountainous northern Greece from Ioannina Airport; Thessaloniki Airport is two and a half hours away.
Private transfers are available on arrival and departure from Ioannina Airport (€120) and Thessaloniki Airport (€350). Hire cars are available at both airports but driving in the Epirus region is recommended only for experienced drivers with a fondness for hairpin bends and sheer drops.
Make like your favourite Bond baddie by arriving at this secret mountain lair by helicopter or private jet from Ioannina Airport.
Worth getting out of bed for
For a hotel that’s supposedly all about the great outdoors, the Grand Forest Metsovo does a pretty impressive job of keeping you indoors. Another half hour in the hammam, sir? Why yes, I think I might. Couple more minutes admiring the view from the pool? Be rude not to. Refill your glass, madam? Oh, go on then, since you insist.
But for budding Bear Grylls’, an abundance of outdoor adventures await. You only have to say the word and you could be roaming horseback into virgin forest, sipping cool, clear water from a mountain spring, foraging for wild truffles or picnicking on delicacies prepared for you by the hotel’s head chef. Ok, so the gourmet picnic doesn’t exactly scream Bear Grylls, but you get the general idea.
Take a mountain bike tour to hidden ponds and verdant peaks and feel the wind in your hair as you zip past towering black pines. Don’t worry: bikes are electric so you’ll barely break sweat. Go off-road jeeping in Pindus National Park and keep your eyes peeled for local residents that include Eurasian brown bears, wild cats and grey wolves as well as rare bird species such as the lanner falcon and majestic eastern imperial eagle.
Thrill seekers who wish to up the ante further still can have a go at canyoning amid the forest’s ancient rock formations, eerie caves and crashing waterfalls. And, for a really special treat, winter brings thick snow and the opportunity to glide silently through a pine-strewn winter wonderland on cross-country skiing excursions. These are led by winter olympic legends Viola Bauer and Lefteris Fafalis, no less.
For somewhat more laidback pursuits, the atmospheric old town of nearby Metsovo, visible from the hotel, is also worth a few hours of your time. Here, bakeries do it the old-fashioned way, baking moist olive breads and honey-flavoured melomakarona cookies in wood-fired ovens; Metsovo’s famous smoked cheese and wine from the local vineyards are stars of the show in the sleepy tavernas, and there’s a lively market most weekends. Look out too for the cute statue of the mother bear and her cub.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this remote hotel in Greece’s wild Pindus mountains, unpacked their foraged truffles, Instagrammed several hundred mountain views and shaken the pine needles out of their boots, a full account of their wilderness break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Grand Forest Metsovo in northern Greece…
Grand Forest Metsovo is the kind of place where becoming one with nature is actively encouraged. Where the outdoors is brought indoors by foraged mushrooms on your dinner plate, spa products scented with mountain wildflowers and cocktails inspired by the forest in the smart Lobby Bar. Then there are the huge views: great heart-swelling panoramic vistas of rugged peaks and deep, dark pine forests. From the restaurant. From the pool. From the gym. From your suite.
Teeming with native wildlife – rare birds, brown bears, Balkan chamois – the territory surrounding the hotel brings to mind the Patagonian plateau, the Canadian wilderness, the Black Forest, The Sound of Music, yet it retains its own uniquely unknowable charm. Organised excursions to glassy secluded lakes, deep canyons and tumbling waterfalls allow you to get right to the heart of this wild landscape. Or, if you prefer, you can just grab a pair of binoculars and a beer and keep your eyes peeled for those elusive soaring golden eagles from a comfy chair on your private balcony.