If you’re ever wanted by Interpol and need to get away (we don’t need to know specifics), Kyrimai Hotel would do nicely. The simple life – sun, sea, souvlaki – awaits you at this rustic 19th century fortress turned delightful boutique hotel at the end of the wild Mani peninsula, encircled by cerulean sea and scrubby countryside. You could happily live out your outlaw days dining on the deliciously authentic Maniot cuisine, swimming languid laps in the bay-gazing pool and befriending the local fishermen. Just send us a cryptic postcard once in a while.
Get this when you book through us:
Basket of local delicacies and a bottle of Greek wine; Goldsmiths get a 10 per cent discount on all restaurant meals
Check-in is from 2pm and check-out is at noon. Both can be flexible, depending on availability.
Double rooms from £108.50 (€120), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of 0.5% per booking on check-out.
Rates generally include the hotel’s traditional Greek breakfast. The menu changes almost daily to showcase different flavours and delicacies, but you’ll always find fresh-squeezed juices, homemade pies and eggs made to order.
The hotel is also home to a diminutive museum which details the town’s mercantile history.
At the hotel
Beach, pool, on-site parking, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: plug adaptors, beach bags, free bottled water.
Our favourite rooms
The historic hotel is in a listed building that dates back to the 1870s, so the rooms can be a little idiosyncratic (they vary a lot in size and vantage point). Though they’re all comfortable and delightfully furnished, it’s worth choosing a room with a sea view and, ideally, a terrace for lots of light and those bright bay views. Who wouldn’t want to be lulled to sleep by the sound of gentle waves?
The outdoor pool is unheated and family-friendly. It’s nestled on the water’s edge, with supremely comfortable sunloungers and plenty of umbrellas, which also run down the stone jetty that leads out to sea.
It can get nippy at night on the sea-blown terrace, so pack a silky scarf or jaunty jacket.
Due to the steep steps and rocky surroundings, the hotel is unsuitable for wheelchair users.
All ages are welcome, but this restful and romantic hotel is best suited to older children and couples. The restaurant has a kids menu and high chairs are available on request.
Seclusion-seeking couples can have supper on the jetty – just ask the hotel to set up a table and chairs for you.
Don’t stand on ceremony here – it’s a let-your-hair-down affair, so sandals, shorts and swimsuit coverups will do by day. In the winter, you’ll be cosied up by the fire while the waves spray the windows, so bring your snuggliest sweater.
Though the Mani may feel like its own world, word has definitely spread about the restaurant at Kyrimai and the awards keep on coming – you won’t eat better in the Peloponnese. Or find a better view – you’re right on the edge of the water and, instead of walls, there’s only a sturdy ship rope. There’s no set menu (dishes change according to the fisherman’s catch and the hunter’s fortunes) but you can be sure of the freshest seafood, pizzas from the wood-burning oven and, in the right season, quail, the Mani’s famous culinary export (if you order quail in a très chic French restaurant, chances are it’s from the Mani). Adventurous oenophiles will appreciate the eclectic wine list, which features lots of lesser-known Greek grapes.
In the winter months, gather around the bar in the lobby for creative cocktails made with Mastic liquor, Athens vermouth and prickly pear juice, a local specialty. In summer, you’ll want to savour your sundowner outside on the terrace.
Breakfast is served every day 8.30–11am; lunch is 1–4pm and the bar closes at 1am.
The full restaurant menu is available as room service during opening hours.
You’ll find Kyrimai Hotel in Gerolimenas at the tip of the Mani Peninsula in the Peloponnese. There’s an end-of-the-earth feel to this part of the mainland, but if you’re seeking the simple life, you can’t beat the sleepy solitude here.
The closest airport is Kalamata, two and a half hours’ drive from the hotel. Outside of the summer season (May to October), you’ll need to fly into Athens, a four-hour drive away. The hotel can organise transfers – it’s €150 each way from Kalamata and €200 each way from Athens – but we recommend renting your own set of wheels so you’re free to roam.
The drive from Kalamata airport snakes through the hills, with the dramatic coastline on one side and the craggy countryside on the other, past fortress towns like Kardamyli and Areopolis. The traffic will start to thin when you pass the Caves of Diros – many tourists don’t go further than this – but your reward lies just a bit further down the peninsula. Once you reach it, you’ll find valet parking on-site.
Worth getting out of bed for
Use your first day at Kyrimai to get adjusted to fishing-town time (hint: be cool as a calamari), moving from refreshing swims in the deep blue Maniot sea to a prone position on the stone jetty, then roll right on to a tsipouro-fueled lunch. To work up an appetite for dinner, Pilates, yoga and other fitness classes are available on request or, if you prefer to get more hands on, go backstage at the hotel’s award-winning restaurant and learn to make Hellenic hero dishes during an afternoon cooking class. The next day, up the tempo a touch with a guided hike or horseback riding in the countryside. Water babies can rent a boat to explore the coastline (boats are available for hire during July, August and September).
Next, it’s time to rev up the rental car and go a-venturin’. Cruise back up the coast to find the Caves of Diros, an enormous complex with staggering stalactites, best explored by boat with a tour guide (don’t forget to spout the tedious tidbit that ‘speleology’ is the correct term for the study of caves). Visit the abandoned village of Vatheia to see the typical Mani tower houses or the considerably more lively town of Areopoli where the restaurants specialise in suckling pig (the best is Barba Petros, owned by the same family since 1917 and just off the main square).
If you’re searching for a sandy beach – the ones around Gerolimenas are stone and shingle – the best is Marmari, a twenty minute drive from the hotel. Make time for lunch at Marmari Paradise, a traditional taverna with pasta, seafood and sea views.
There are two restaurants within walking distance in Gerolimenas: the laidback Mani Mani taverna is best for a casual calamari lunch and Gerogrosso specialises in grilled meats and delicious cocktails.
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 historic hotel in the Mani Peninsula, unpacked Plutarch’s On Sparta and refrigerated their raki, a full account of their secluded seaside break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Kyrimai Hotel in Gerolimenas…
Everyone needs a Kyrimai Hotel – that place your brain can flit off to when the news cycle gets a bit too 1984, during rush-hour train delays or when your toddler starts screaming bloody murder. Remember how Andy Dufresne had that little spot in Mexico to sustain him during solitary? Well, when we need to survive something particularly soul-sapping, we dream of Kyrimai. Of how you’ll find it at the very tip of the mythic Mani peninsula presiding over a tranquil little fishing cove, the turquoise waters gently lapping its stony walls. Of that postcard-perfect swimming pool overlooking the bay or the traditional taverna, where you’re served helping after helping of fresh fish by staff straight out of central casting for ‘Stavros: smiling Greek waiter’ (you half expect someone to call ‘Cut!’ as you bite into your baklava). Of drinking like Dionysus from the wine list of boutique Greek vintners, which inevitably leads to long afternoon siestas on the sunbaked stone jetty. And days spent conquering the countryside by rental car, on the hunt for caves of ancient legend and crumbling mediaeval towers. And how… oh, gotta go, looks like traffic is moving again.