Need to know
Three residences with a total of five bedrooms (three in the Main House and one in each of the two guesthouses).
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
It’s best to note that the Fermor’s bequeathment was to use the house to further the arts and nurture young creatives; its use as a hideaway is to fund these endeavours. So, in this spirit, the Benaki custodians still give the public access to the house in summer, on a guided tour at 11am on Monday mornings. You may even wish to join in to learn a little more about the house’s foibles. Say the cat pawprint mosaics inlaid in the sunset-watching pergola, a nod to Joan’s favourite animal, and the snake icons throughout the house, a nod to Patrick’s.
The house is open to guests in the summer months, from 1 June to 30 September.
At the hotel
Rocky beach, indoor and outdoor lounges. In rooms: Access to a shared pool, furnished alfresco terrace, library, artwork (some original), TVs, air-conditioning, free WiFi. The Traditional House has a kitchenette.
Our favourite rooms
Are you feeling gregarious? If so, book the Main House (or the whole estate), where the Fermor’s would often throw glamorous parties for the likes of Evelyn Waugh, Nancy Mitford, John Betjeman and – Fermor’s travel-writing mentee – Bruce Chatwin. It’s where they’d drink under the pergolas till the wee hours, taking long siesta the next day to ease the hangovers, and where Fermor would keep books to hand so he could jump up to answer any burning questions his guests had, if he wasn’t regaling them with poems and songs recited backwards in Hindustani or German. And, it’s a charming property, often dubbed the ‘most beautiful in Greece’. We’re not sure how his wife took the design choice, but the living room with its Moorish elements was inspired by the castle of a former Romanian princess paramour. We also rather like the scholarly cocoon that is the Traditional House, Fermor’s former writing room.
The pool is one of the new additions to the house, which – according to locals who knew the Fermors – sea-loving Paddy would have hated. But, we were rather taken with it, enshrouded with trees and fragrant plants as it is; an elegant strip of blue at the coastal cliff edge, a little prelude to the even more saturated hue of the sea below. And there’s a line of loungers where you can lay and fall madly in love with all around you.
Bookworms, no need to bulk up your bag with reading material or even download something new on the Kindle – this former writer’s house, which fledgling writers can retreat to to work on upcoming projects, has around 6,000 books crammed into every nook, in all three residences. These include Patrick Fermor’s lauded travel writings and the finished tomes of the house’s protégés.
The privacy exclusive use affords means this is an excellent family stay, and little ones will thrill at the secret gardens and nooks and crannies to explore.
Very little children will need to be watched by the pool and the beach stairs, but juniors and tweens will enjoy the freedom to roam the grounds.
For the utmost seclusion and to really feel like this is your own family villa, book the whole place; otherwise, one extra bed can be added to the Traditional House.
Play games of tennis or take yoga together, drive out to ruins to give them a lesson in ancient Grecian history and paddle about in the bay.
While the pool will be a hit with smalls, parents will need to keep an eye on lesser-confident swimmers.
Have a word with the house’s chef and we’re sure she’ll find something Maniot suitable for minis.