A charming idyll and long Summer days on Corfu, the jewel of the Ionian Sea.
Greece has a special place in my heart, as my first ever trip abroad and the country where my husband proposed. Last weekend I collected another Greek Island when I visited Corfu, the northernmost Ionian Island. The Ionian Islands are strung like a bracelet along the west coast of mainland Greece. Renowned for their cooler climate, by Greek standards anyway, abundant olive and cypress trees and forested mountains, the Ionians have been my go-to destination in Greece. Corfu is no hidden gem, but it is a gem none the less, with something for those seeking sand, sea and sundowners or those looking for culture and good food.
Corfu is the second largest Ionian island and known for its Italian influence, especially in its architecture. The Venetians occupied the Island for almost four centuries defending against the Ottoman invasions when the whole of the Adriatic was known as the Gulf of Venice. Visiting Corfu old Town you will see the Venetian Old Fortress and the Citadel, but you may not know that the Old Town of Corfu Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. My fourth UNESCO World Heritage Site this year! And it is all only short 3 hours from London airports. I travelled to Corfu with Aegean Airlines, the largest airline of Greece, via Athens and was able to experience the hospitality and Greek culinary delights on offer in their business lounge. With destinations as wide-ranging as Abu Dhabi to the Greek island of Zakynthos (which was my first Greek Island) their network covers 145 destinations in 45 countries.
Over three packed days, I experienced the hospitality and luxury on offer at Grecotel’s Corfu Imperial, Eva Palace and their all-inclusive family resort Daphnila Bay Dassia on the Island of Corfu. Along the way, I rekindled my love of Greece, took a huge amount of photographs, and made some wonderful new friends.
The Corfu Imperial has 25 room types split between the main building and villas, with the majority of the rooms having some element of sea view as it is on a peninsula, even some of those classed as a garden view. I stayed in a Waterfront Dream Villa, but I also viewed the Deluxe Guestroom, the Imperial Family Suites on the fifth floor, a third-floor Luxury Suite Sea view, the Waterfront Dream Villa with private pool and the ultimate luxury of the four-bedroom Palazzo Libro D’Oro – it was jaw-dropping. Whatever type of accommodation you choose, from a Deluxe Guestroom to the Palazzo’s, Grecotel Corfu Imperial staff will look after you impeccably.
Arriving late at night I hadn’t quite appreciated the closeness of the water to my Dream Villa Waterfront and the panoramic views across the bay towards the town of Corfu. In fact, I had a sea view directly from my bed, lucky lady that I am. My exclusive 1-bedroom villa had a large en-suite bedroom (with an enormous wardrobe and a make up fridge!) adjacent to a terrace with views of boats bobbing on the water. The bed was so comfy which is something I take seriously in hotels – you’d be surprised how many get it wrong. Along the hallway from my bedroom took you to the epic black mosaic-clad shower room complete with body jets and large picture window looking out to the beach and water. At the far end, you entered the open plan sitting and dining room with sliding doors to another terrace.
The decoration of the hotel is based on a noble Venetian / Italianate concept. With the room interiors having antique and unique decorative pieces including original frescoes. There are gorgeous classical design touches everywhere from beautiful marble floors, mosaics, barrel arches, rocaille wood panelling and elaborately carved and gilded Baroque headboards with open scrolls. There are highly-crafted detailing throughout the public areas paying homage to classic Venetian furniture, such as gilt hand carved settees and elaborate traditional wall sconces.
In the recently renovated rooms in the main building, the palette comprises of layers of textured white with pops of blue, coupled with mirrored and high gloss furniture. The frescoed ceilings with cherubs were an unexpected surprise but in keeping with the Italianate style. The bathrooms are chic book matched marble in a very modern design.
Late last year the hotel started a renovation project that was almost complete, at the time of my visit. This includes a brand new grand pool among the newly landscaped Italianate gardens, a new Gelateria and Trattoria opening at the end of June, a significant refurbishment and extension with terraces to the Mon Repos restaurant (where I breakfasted two of three days I was there), a renovated gym and an overhaul of the Elixir Beauty Spa which includes an indoor pool, sauna and a hammam. All of this design work has been undertaken by the in-house design team at Grecotel.
There are lots of dining experiences to have at the Corfu Imperial from YaIi the restaurant that literally floats on the sea, the newly renovated Mon Repos to the exquisite fine dining of Aristos. The menu of which was overseen by the Αssistant Ηead Chef, Thanos Feskos, of a 3* Michelin restaurant in Copenhagen and where Konstantinos Karapanagiotis is the Executive Chef in the resort.
What I discovered when Grecotel invited me to see their 3 hotels in the north of the island, was an unspoilt corner on the Kommeno Peninsula overlooking the Ionian sea with faultless hospitality and luxury at the highest standards. Beautiful inside and out, the Grecotel Corfu Imperial makes guests feel like royalty, with palatial furnishings, smart public areas and a parade of brightly painted villas. Whether you want a few weeks of lounging around the pool, an action-packed family holiday filled with water sports or a short break in a romantic setting, the Kommeno Peninsula has a holiday to suit all your tastes, whatever the size of your budget.
Thank you to Grecotel for inviting me on this free press trip. I was a guest of Grecotel, my hotel, all meals, spa treatment and watersports were covered. My economy air travel was kindly provided by Aegean Air including the use of the Aegean Business lounge in Athens. All words, opinions and images are my own.