Follow in the footsteps of the Venetians – who nicknamed Zakynthos ‘the Flower of the Levant’ – and bed down at modern, minimalist Olea All Suites Hotel, which has a star spa, romantic rooms and a trio of ravishing restaurants up its sleeve. This sand-and-pearl-hued hillside hideaway is tucked away amid olive trees and an abundance of native greenery. Glimpses of the Ionian Sea and the lagoon-like pool provide incentives to get out of bed (at least occasionally). Let the madding crowds hog Zante’s busier spots; there’s no crime in spending your whole holiday here.
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A bottle of champagne and two cocktails each during the stay
Noon; earliest check-in, 2pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability. Late check-out (before 6pm) is available for a charge (50 per cent of the daily rate). If you’re arriving early, you can use facilities, store luggage and hop in the shower room.
Double rooms from £278.98 (€316), including tax at 13 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of €4.00 per room per night on check-out.
Rates usually include breakfast (buffet and American options). You can also enjoy omelettes cooked just the way they like them.
Athens- and Stockholm-based architects Block722+ are responsible for the hotel’s sleek, modernist design, which stars cube-like suites and communal areas with a tropical Tiki feel, thanks to thatched roofs and bamboo partition walls.
Olea All Suite Hotel is usually closed from mid-October till the end of April.
At the hotel
Free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, desk, shaving mirror, air conditioning (individually controlled), minibar, free bottled water, kettle, tea and coffee, blackout curtain and Zealots bath products. Honeymoon, Executive and Presidential Suites have a Nespresso machine and ceiling fan; Honeymoon and Presidential Suites also have a Jacuzzi and Marshall Bluetooth speakers.
Our favourite rooms
Do you prefer privacy, direct pool access or prime views? Pick accordingly. Superior Water Suites are set on the ground floor, set back a bit from the main pool, giving them a more secluded feel; rooms on higher levels enjoy loftier coastal outlooks. Executive Suites have a private pool and views of either the sea and the pool, or the countryside.
The lagoon-like pool is the glittering centrepiece of the hotel, flanked by sleeping-quarters (some rooms have direct pool access; many have pool views). The swimming pool is also built around the circular Cocoon Resto and Bar, which has a sandy floor, fit for visiting mermaids and mermen.
Olea Royal Spa is a peaceful, 300sq m temple to wellness, with a hammam, yoga studio, beauty salon and mini gym. Unwind with a facial or massage starring aromatic and essential oils and Mediterranean herbs.
Bring swimwear that Adonis or Venus would approve of, plus an appetite for Zante currants: small, sweet, seedless grapes, native to the island.
A sofa bed can be converted to sleep one extra guest (in all rooms except Honeymoon and Presidential) for 37.5 per cent of the room rate.
Over-12s are welcome, but the hotel’s really designed for adults.
Food is locally sourced, organic, free-range and seasonal; eco-friendly cleaning products and light bulbs are used throughout; the hotel recycles and has a fleet of on-loan bicycles.
Take your cues from the sun and pick accordingly: shaded or fully sun-kissed; wherever has the best views come sunset. The banquette sofas at Cocoon offer up prime poolside people-watching; the two tables at the front of Flow benefit from the best vistas.
Island dreaming: white-and-sand linens; leather sandals; gold glimmers.
There’s a trio to choose from here: relaxed O Restaurant, which serves breakfast and traditional Greek dishes for dinner; Cocoon Resto and Bar for light, poolside snacks, including sushi, during the day; Flow Dine and Wine, which dishes up fine dining – with a generous portion of hillside views.
Don’t miss mojitos at O Bar, beside the restaurant. There’s also zen-style F Bar, which has an impressive wine list and signature cocktails.
Breakfast is served until 10am; dine at O Restaurant or Flow Wine and Dine until 9.30pm, Cocoon until 10pm. Slake your thirst in Cocoon’s bar until 11pm, O Bar until 12.30am or F Bar until 1am.
Order from the full restaurant menu during opening hours. Minibars are stocked with soft drinks, wine, beer, prosecco, chocolate and nuts, should you get the late-night munchies.
Olea is on the northeast coast of Zakynthos, one of the largest islands in the Ionian Sea, just off the west coast of Greece.
Zakynthos Airport is 10 kilometres away, a 20-minute drive. There are regular direct flights from the UK; talk to Smith24 if you’d like help booking your flights.
It’s a 20-minute drive to the hotel from the centre of Zakynthos. Do bring wheels if you want to explore the island (the hotel has plenty of on-site parking).
Worth getting out of bed for
Start with what’s at the hotel itself: join group sun-salutation yoga sessions; unwind in the spa and hammam; hit the gym; borrow bikes. Banana Beach is a pretty, sandy stretch with sunbeds and umbrellas to hire. It’s a cut above the islands’ mass-market beaches – especially when you factor in the excellent waterside bar and its delicious burgers and milkshakes. Alternatively, join the locals at Makris Gialos, a small, stony beach with crystalline water; there are no umbrellas or beds to hire, and a minimum of tourists, too. Xigia Beach is set near sulphurous caves: the water may be a little bit on the pongy side, but it also has healing properties, helping with skin conditions, arthritis, joint pains and other complaints – it's pebbly, with a fleet of sunbeds and shades. Treat yourselves to a private tour of Navagio Beach – aka Shipwreck Beach, one of Greece’s most iconic stretches of sand – which can only be accessed via boat. On this half- or full-day expedition, you’ll have the chance to stop off at other secluded coves and beaches en route.
Avlion Rizospaston and Desylla Street in Zante Town is open all day, offering organic, vegan and gluten-free options in a pale and pretty space. The owner is a personal trainer – hence the menu’s healthy leanings. Fioro Tou Levante is a traditional taverna with 360-degree views in Meso Gerakari on the west coast, a 45-minute drive from the hotel. (Ask staff for directions.) Movida Sky Bar and Restaurant earns its name with a lofty perch and impressive views over Zakynthos town; Aperitto on the edge of Agios Sostis and Dominicale in Argassi both ace relaxed, fishy suppers. For something a little more fancy, visitProsilioin Zakynthos town which serves creative cuisine in an informal setting.
Begin the night at bohemian Base Cafe & Roof Bar, near Solomos Square, which pulls in glamorous locals via big-name DJs and potent 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 Greek-island hotel and unpacked their capers and glittering icons, a full account of their beach break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Olea All Suite Hotel in Zakynthos…
Forget fishbowl cocktails and the late-night lures of Laganas: there’s an undiscovered side to Zakynthos – aka Zante – and it’s best experienced at Olea All Suite Hotel. Perched on a grassy hilltop with dreamy views, this modern all-suite hideaway showcases some of Greece’s most enduring calling cards: utterly delicious food served with flair (black codfish with artichoke cream, apple confit and lemon foam, for example), dazzling coastal credentials (you can eyeball the Ionian Sea from your suite) and a deliciously relaxed approach to life. Turn off your phone, embrace the lack of reliable signal, and enjoy the peace (this grown-up escape only accepts over-11s…)