Chic and charming Hydra is a romantic idyll in its own right, but it’s also a perfect base for day trips to Athens. Unlike most Greek islands, it’s open all year round, too
You could choose Hydra for a romantic break, a two-centre holiday combining the buzz of
A number of its charming small hotels stay open all year (unlike those on most Greek islands), so it’s a great place for a winter, spring or autumn break, and rooms are much cheaper in the off-peak season, from October to Easter.
So close to
It also has a great portfolio of charming places to stay, some excellent restaurants – and a total absence of naff nightlife, though the Ydronetta Bar, ensconced in its cliffside site, keeps up an old hippie tradition with jazz and classical music at sunset as well as full moon parties. It’s the place to go dancing, with free admission but pricey drinks – cocktails start at €8.
Hydra’s three-dimensional maze of traffic-free streets and steps rises amphitheatre-style from a semi-circular harbour, which was once home to the Aegean largest merchant fleet.
With a slightly bigger budget, go for a room at the Hydroussa (€65-€105), with 40 plain but comfortable en-suite rooms in a typical Hydra mansion (eat breakfast in the stone-flagged courtyard) or the Hotel Ippokampos, with doubles from €110 and a 20 per cent discount if you stay seven nights or more. It’s another dignified old townhouse, with potted palms in a shady courtyard, but inside its blue and white exterior, facilities are bang up to date, with free wireless broadband making it even better value.
One of my old favourites in the budget category, the Hotel Hydra, has recently had a total makeover and is now a pricey boutique hotel, joining the already crowded ranks of chic spots on this sophisticated island. Others include the venerable Orloff, once the home of an exiled lover of Catherine the Great, where the rooms with their antique beds reek of the jasmine and honeysuckle that swamp the courtyard. A double here starts at €160.
Hotel Phaedra has just seven rooms, all different (
But none of these has a pool, which leaves the fabulous Bratsera as still the top place to stay on Hydra – especially since the nearest and only beach (such as it is – a strip of pebbly sand) is at Vlihos, a 25-minute walk from the village. You wouldn’t believe this low-rise building, with its whitewashed walls, oak beams and doors made from salvaged wood, lofty ceilings and big blue pool, was once a sponge factory. You could spend a week cocooning here without wanting to leave for more than the occasional evening stroll and dinner by the harbour. Stylish bliss – and, starting at €125 for a double, affordable bliss at that. Hydra in a nutshell.