Fit for a princess | The Skiathos Princess hotel, 37002, Agia Paraskevi, Skiathos, Greece
I have an idea of a new hotel concept – a cat hotel. Not a cattery, I mean a hotel for humans with resident cats. Humans like me who love cats but for one reason or another, can’t have any. The Skiathos Princess hotel has the most gorgeous resident litter of rescue kittens (along with their mother). It certainly made our visit all the more relaxing, even Ade warmed to them and he’s against me having one. Sadly, the island is notorius for its abundance of strays, so it was lovely that the hotel had adopted these little kitties. Although what happens to them when the hotel shuts for winter is anyone’s guess.
There’s a lot more to the Princess than cats, although they were certainly a highlight for me (in case you haven’t already worked that out). The five-star resort is part of the prestigious Santikos Collection, who describe themselves as ‘The bohemian bourgeois trend in hotel lifestyle’. The hotel almost touches the sea, with its own private beach complete with straw draped parasols, sun loungers and a few day beds for hire. As you can imagine, it’s a prime wedding destination and looks pretty dazzling at night.
Pr. Ammos, a rather cool all white modern beach bar is perfectly located on the water’s edge – ideal for lunch, try the humongous juicy burger, it came complete with a brioche bun and the fries dusted with oregano. The Greek certainly know how to cook meat, which is good news for the cats too. There’s two other restaurants also – the Muse poolside bar and restaurant where you can pick up a great Mojito. Then there’s the more formal Leto concepts restaurant, possibly the only place on the island with a smart/casual dress code. A buffet style breakfast is served here from 7.30 to the reasonable hour of 10.30, perfect for lazy holidays and thank god the dress code doesn’t apply in the morning. The venue is transformed at night into three individual restaurants with open kitchens.
There’s an array of room types, from the opulent two-bedroom premier pool suite from which we gawped at from our super spacious deluxe premier suite. There’s a room for everyone, and there was every type of holiday maker here, it was staggeringly busy considering it was the last week before the staff closed the place down for the winter and headed back to their other lives, hopefully with the cats in tow… Our room was huge, just as well as we spread our belongings everywhere. The Hypnos king-size bed was super-comfy, the bathroom was a little dated with a teeny shower, but the rest of the suite was well decorated and spotlessly clean.
Skiathos is so chilled, friendly and relaxed. This is not the place to go if you’re looking for an action-packed holiday. If you are looking for activities though, the hotel can arrange herb hiking walks and if you’re the flexible (and brave) type there’s YOGAqua all the way from California – a combination of stand-up paddle boarding and yoga, right in the Aegean sea.
Fans of the film Mamma Mia will love Skiathos for some of it was filmed here and on the neighbouring island of Skopelos, there’s several open-air theatres where you can watch the film. Personally it’s not for me, although worryingly Ade probably wouldn’t have turned the chance down to see it, he once dragged me against my will to the theatre production of it in London’s west end.
We flopped a lot, by the sea, by the beach and beside the pool on the most amazingly sumptuous sun loungers, there was no chance of staying awake on one of these. Talking of beaches, there are absolutely loads to choose from in Skiathos, our favourite was Koukounaries – a short bus ride away towards the south-west of the island. A gorgeous beach, a Thailand/Ibiza mash-up, super chilled and cool. We had the best gyros at the Thalassa Beach Bar and sipped a Negroni at the Kahlua beach bar as the sun went down.
We experienced an afternoon of storms and rain which normally on holiday is a real disappointment. We used the time for a treatment or two in the hotel’s spa, which is probably something we wouldn’t have scheduled in had the bad weather not come. Plus it gave our skin a break from the sun and at our age, it probably needs it. The spa’s only teeny, but quite well equipped and they even offer children’s massages, because children get so stressed out with their hectic lives and need ‘me time’ too. Speaking of children, if you want ‘me time’ there’s a crèche/kids club for ages 6 months to 12 years with babysitting offered too.
There’s not much to do just outside the hotel, there’s a supermarket with a donkey tied up outside and a bunch of tavernas, we loved the cosy yet modern Mesostrato Tavern with their huge portions and Platanias where they load you up with extras that you didn’t ask for. For nightlife you really need to get back on that bus and head into Skiathos town. The bus runs every fifteen minutes or so til late for just under €2 each. No one tells you this but there is only a bus stop on one side of the road, if you’re heading in the other direction you just stand opposite on the other side of the road.
Start at the infamous Slip Inn at the old port with its array of colourful cushions, you can get a surprisingly good Amaretto Sour here for just €5. A real don’t miss is Maria’s Pizza, an eccentric pizzeria decorated with a mish-mash of random items, the pizza’s good, deep and generously topped. Careful though as they have moved from their old site and the new occupiers have named their place a similar name. On the south-west edge of town, opposite the public clinic is the lovely Amfiliki – a restaurant perched on a cliff specialising in fish with warm and friendly staff who really know their food.
Alexandros, near the Tris Ierárhes church ticks the authentic and romantic restaurant box, as long as you don’t mind being surrounded by cats, we counted seven hungry felines under our table whilst we dug in to great lamb chops and beef stifado. Also worth noting is Ergon – a deli and restaurant, possibly the most modern on the island, they’ve actually recently launched in London, don’t miss the love it or hate it black tzatziki and lemon glazed pork chops. Cafe Bourtzi on the little peninsula by the old port is a good spot for a Greek frappe and a spot of plane watching – the jets land pretty low as the runway on the island is tiny. The Windmill restaurant behind the new port is the place to go with views to die for.
The Princess is the place to take a breather from work life and just be, as is their sister hotel – the Aegean Suites where we headed next. The fact there’s a pool and a brilliantly appointed and beautiful beach just minutes from your room is a huge plus, whether you’re lazy like us or have kids in tow. Plus the staff really know how to look after you here, we were certainly in need of being looked after.
37002, Agia Paraskevi,
Book a room online
Nearest airport: Skiathos (13 mins drive)
We stayed as guests of the Skiathos Princess hotel, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.