Stylist contributor Lizzie Pook heads to the Greek island to find it’s casting off its party hard reputation
I came to Skiathos with the saintliest of intentions. I’ll dose up on vitamin D, I thought. Spend my mornings doing laps in still, glassy pools and eat dainty salads while rejuvenating my liver with iced lemon water. Well, as the old adage goes: two out of three ain’t bad.
Because this is no place for small appetites. The table in front of me heaves with honeydrenched hunks of feta, freshly caught calamari salad and portions of rich moussaka. And it’s not water we’re washing it all down with either. It’s gluggable Greek white from the local Parissis winery, followed by jaw-jangling shots of the ouzo-like Tsipouro liquor.
Because Skiathos is a food lover’s island. It’s also an island for those in search of secret beaches and wild swimming spots; for those partial to clifftop walks as the scent of sage dances around them on the breeze.
And while it used to be a mecca for partygoers (or a transit point for Mamma Mia! fans looking to ferry over to neighbouring Skopelos), it’s now forging its own path as a luxury hotspot, with the opening of Elivi Skiathos on the island’s southwesterly point.
Decked out in bleached woods, eggshell blue wicker, driftwood furniture and crystal accents, the hotel’s design is Scandi-inspired. But pops of modern art in the lobby and the chic black swan motifs dotted throughout give things a contemporary twist.
Rooms are split into three categories: the swim-up Xenia rooms, ocean-facing Grace suites and The Nest, collection of stone villas surrounded by rustic olive groves set away from the hotel, giving them something of a private members’ vibe.
I rise early each morning to do laps in the pine-fringed pool as tiny black cats sprawl on nearby sun loungers. Post-siesta I also take to the warm seas at Koukounaries beach (voted one of the 10 best in the world) as superyachts cruise past.
For those wanting to be even more active, you can hike the pine-scented clifftop trails around the hotel in search of the locals’ favourite sea-battered ‘hidden beach’ before returning to cool off in your private plunge pool.
Outside the hotel there are sea-faring adventures to be had. A sailing trip with Diamanti (sailinginskiathos.com) is a great way to see the island and its postcardworthy, deserted beaches. We pull into hidden coves for swimming, tuck into fresh mussels from nearby Thessaloniki and putter across to neighbouring Tsougrias island where wild goats nibble on grassy outcrops.
At night, Skiathos’s old town – a mish-mash of tavernas, shops and bars – is lantern-lit with streets lined with cases of fresh fish. We pick our way through crazy-paving alleys, filled with powder blue shutters, creeping ivy and marble-fronted churches.
The open-air bar and restaurant at Borzoi Club (borzoiskiathos.com) is filled with succulents, graphic scatter cushions and the island’s trendiest residents. Ask barman Arnaud for his signature Parmella cocktail – Tabasco, olive wine, tequila, agave nectar and celery bitters. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but (dangerously) it really does.
Back at Elivi, I open my curtains to see the moon reflected on the inky waters of the Aegean and fall asleep to the sound of cicadas. Sure, you can still have a wild time in Skiathos, but if such a blissful end to the day isn’t luxury, I don’t know what is.
Quintessentially Travel offers five nights at Elivi Skiathos from £1,100 for two adults staying on a B&B basis, including return flights from London and airport transfers (quintessentiallytravel.com)