MYKONOS Hedonistic pleasures rule amid the whitewashed villas of the Cyclades
James Nicholls savours the lifeenhancing light and sea of Mykonos, savouring its hedonistic delights.
II know on arrival that I am in for a very special treat. The Meltemi wind blowing in from the Aegean Sea is warm and inviting, carrying hints of the pleasures that we are to discover on this legendary island.
It’s little wonder that so many holidaymakers escape to Mykonos and its surrounding Greek isles. To come here is to live the good life in surroundings so idyllic that you can soon forget the dayto-day obligations and chores to which we are all subject and beholden.
I quickly find myself totally relaxed, refreshed and reinvigorated by the sea, sunshine and wonderful cuisine.
Greek haven The Myconian Ambassador Relais & Châteaux is regarded as the finest hotel on this Cycladic island. It draws on
the owners’ ancestral ties to the land, as well as the Greeks’ long-standing legacy of hospitality. As we are soon to discover, a stay at the Ambassador proves as hedonistic as the island itself.
Our hotel is situated just above the cosmopolitan bay of Platis Gialos. We pass our first afternoon on the beach, lounging at the edge of the azure water and strolling the boardwalk lined with boutiques and restaurants.
Blue, along with white, are colours very much associated with Greece, indeed being the colours of the national flag. And these colours are reflected everywhere on the island. The blue of the sky and sea, and the shutters of the blindingly white houses and myriad churches are seen everywhere you look. Mykonos is very much a summer destination, and it’s not hard to imagine it as the Elysium that Homer wrote of in Book IV of The Odyssey, “where all existence is a dream of ease./Snowfall is never known there, neither long/frost of winter, nor torrential rain,/but only mild and lulling airs from Ocean, bearing refreshment for the souls of men” (as translated by Robert Fitzgerald, 1963).
It’s easy to lose days relaxing at The Myconian Ambassador in one its sleek white suites or beside the stunning pool, but there is much more to do on Mykonos, by day and by night.
Time to explore
No visit would be complete without a trip to pumping Nammos Beach Club, the pinnacle of Greek Islands chic. We decide to make the short walk from the hotel and, with my partner and our son leading the way over the hill, I follow along, marvelling at the number of superyachts and gorgeous hulls rafted up, filling the bay below. Boat spotting is one of my favourite activities and I am delighted to see Lady Hertha, built in 1935, setting itself apart from the modern crowd and mooring further out.
Arriving at noon, we find the restaurant busy already. It is easy to understand why; the service is attentive and the
food excellent. Fresh fish and salad is the order of the day, washed down with a bottle of local white wine. The atmosphere is fun and vibrant, the clients happy to dine in sophisticated beachwear, often with an added touch of bling, reflecting the restaurant’s glamorous, barefoot style. After lunch we venture further along the beach to the Riva Yachts’ new Private Deck experience, where owners both present and future can get to know this enduring icon of the Mediterranean lifestyle over a refreshment in a relaxed environment.
We rent a little Peugeot and head for Agios Sostis and lunch at Kiki’s Tavern the next day. You can’t book at this offthe-grid hideaway, so we are expecting a wait. The welcome is effusive, though, and the time quickly passes with the help of free wine and water. The others head down to the water to cool off while I keep vigil and save our places – if you leave you lose, and the doorman, like a placid Cerberus, sees all.
Inside the sanctuary of this rustic open-air restaurant, we are cooled by the shade of vines overhead and treated to a vista of the water below. The traditional chicken, pork or fish cooked simply over the grill is delicious and, of course, accompanied by an obligatory but superb Greek salad. The servings are enormous – so much so that we neglect to leave room for the signature homemade desserts.
The next day, we enjoy the beach at Agia Anna on the southeast coast of the island. The roads are narrow, but there is no hurry and little traffic. We feast on pasta at a beachside restaurant and head home happy, our skin crisp with the salt of the sea.
After exploring the charismatic laneways of Little Venice in Chora, aka Mykonos Town, we head for the chilled-
“We head home happy , our skin crisp with the salt of the sea.”
out Scorpios Beach Club, a laidback hip hangout for the cool set – another day, another beach, another delicious meal. And each day ends with the most peaceful of slumbers.
In The Greek Islands, Lawrence Durell wrote, “Never will you go to sleep so soundly as you will in Mykonos – and it is the deep sleep of early infancy. In the morning, when you push back your shutters, the whiteness comes up to meet you again like the caress of wet eyelashes.” I can assure you his words ring true.
04 01 Poolside at The Myconian Ambassador 02 Blue and white prevails 03 The island is worth exploring 04 Dessert at The Myconian Ambassador
07 05 Magical Mykonos 06 Private Jacuzzi at The Myconian Ambassador 07 Nammos restaurant serves the freshest of seafood 08 Scorpios offers wholesome cuisine in laidback luxury