From Paxos to Patmos: the Greek islands loved by our favourite celebrity jet-setters

Joanna Taylor
·8-min read
 (UNSPLASH)
(UNSPLASH)

After a long winter in lockdown, the prospect of swimming in crystal blue waters and eating feta under a parasol sounds downright heavenly.

And while nothing is confirmed, if Greek tourism minister Haris Theoharis gets his way, those with vaccination passports could be allowed to travel between the UK and Greece quarantine-free this summer.

But with a whopping 227 inhabited Greek islands to choose from, it is hard to decide where to plot an escape.

So, we’ve asked some of our favourite jet-setters to tell us about their most treasured Greek island memories and where they can’t wait to return.

Luke Edward Hall, artist and designer: Hydra

I love Hydra. There are no cars - only donkeys - and no ugly buildings. It has a magical, artistic vibe and one of my favourite artists, John Craxton, spent time there. We take a boat most days from the harbour to the Four Seasons - not the Four Seasons, this place is much, much better - which is the perfect beach restaurant. The food is wonderful; slabs of feta fried in honey and the best taramasalata I have ever had.

Friends in the sea on Luke Edward Hall’s trip to HydraLuke Edward Hall
Friends in the sea on Luke Edward Hall’s trip to HydraLuke Edward Hall

I have many happy Hydra memories sipping early morning coffee in the port, going on lazy walks with tubs of almond ice cream and collecting glittering sea urchin husks found washed up on the rocks. I don’t actually do very much on Hydra, and that’s why a stay there is always so brilliant, it’s a proper retreat. I can’t wait to get back.

Window shopping: the charm of Hydra’s villagesLuke Edward Hall
Window shopping: the charm of Hydra’s villagesLuke Edward Hall

Henry Holland, fashion designer: Mykonos

I had one of the best summers of my life on a friend’s buddymoon in Mykonos, dancing on tables and doing everything that’s been banned for the last 12 months. I would love to go back again for a quick dip in the sea whilst waiting for Kiki’s to open. Bring on the hedonism and the halloumi!

Hedonism and halloumi: Henry Holland having a ball on his friend’s ‘buddymoon’Henry Holland
Hedonism and halloumi: Henry Holland having a ball on his friend’s ‘buddymoon’Henry Holland

For a more chilled vibe I have also stayed at the Wild Hotel by Interni on the other side of the island, which I would definitely suggest for a more relaxed stay and to watch the influencers “creating content” at the pool 18-hours a day for entertainment. Gold! Hire a quad bike, drive to Fokos beach and eat fresh fish at the taverna there for a lovely day out, but beware of the genitals swinging in the wind as it’s a nudey beach.

Henry Holland’s views relaxing by the pool in MykonosHenry Holland
Henry Holland’s views relaxing by the pool in MykonosHenry Holland

Monica Vinader, jewellery designer: Andros

Andros is a magical place and my absolute favourite spot in Greece. It’s still really quite wild and that’s what appeals to me most. I haven’t visited the island since I was 19 and have such fond, vivid memories of it being an unspoilt, tranquil and authentic spot. I think it still remains as such and will be the genuine Greek experience I so crave.

I’m planning on visiting a heavenly little place called Melisses, which means ‘Bees’ in Greek and is owned by a charming Italian woman called Allegra Pomilio.

The view from the pool at the Melisses hotelMelisses Hotel
The view from the pool at the Melisses hotelMelisses Hotel

Each room is its own beautiful private suite with a pool and a panoramic view that guarantees a view of beautiful sunsets over the sea. It’ll be a slice of paradise.

Serene bedroom details at the Melisses HotelMelisses Hotel
Serene bedroom details at the Melisses HotelMelisses Hotel

Lucy Williams, fashion influencer: Milos

One Greek island that has made a particularly big stamp on me is Milos. Renowned for its gale-like winds and Mars-like stretches of coastline, it’s the wild, beautiful Greece of all our dreams.

We stayed in a small, whitewashed hotel on the outskirts of the seaside village Pollonia and while the wind howled at night (yes, even in the summer) and the breakfasts were basic, the sunsets from the wooden deck were all the colours of a blood orange and completely otherworldly.

‘Otherworldly’ sunsets in MilosUNSPLASH
‘Otherworldly’ sunsets in MilosUNSPLASH

Driving along the coastal road every day, stopping for a moment of stillness by the tiny blue and white church, or a takeaway pastry and coffee strong enough to make your toes curl from Kivotos Ton Gefseon, made my heart sing every time.

We loved our dinner of stuffed courgettes and shrimp saganaki under drying Octopuses at Medusa restaurant in Mandrakia so much we went back twice, if only so I could take even more clichéd photographs of multi-coloured laundry drying on lines and the sun setting over bobbing fishing boats.

On the remote west coast we visited Taberna Ebourious, a tiny taverna perched on the water which serves simple plates of Greek salad and grilled fish on sticky tables, and Tirades beach, a swathe of volcanic dark sand with water so crystal clear I was convinced each dip was adding at least a year to my life. Milos is the kind of place that makes you think maybe you really could write that novel or run away, live in a shack and make ceramics for the rest of your days.

Unique Greek architecture on the island of MilosUNSPLASH
Unique Greek architecture on the island of MilosUNSPLASH

Alice Temperley, fashion designer: Corfu

I love Greece, it’s the perfect holiday. Clear seas, delicious food, and it’s not too far. My absolute favourite is the village of Nisaki in north east Corfu, it’s a gem. Originally an islet, a jetty with tavernas now joins it to the mainland. I usually head to Gallini Taverna in Nisaki for supper and travel a little further to Taverna Agni for drunken mussels. Greek Islands have to be seen from the sea, the coast lines are spectacular, so the best thing to do is to take a boat and explore.

Stunning views from Katavolos House, North East CorfuKatavolos House
Stunning views from Katavolos House, North East CorfuKatavolos House

Base camp is always Katavolos House. The views are spectacular, set up above the village, reached by a mountain road, it’s all the peace and beauty of Corfu. Sometimes, in search of some sophistication and shopping, we venture to Liston where we promenade their elegant piazza built by the Venetians and perfected by the French, to drink coffee and cocktails but mainly we stay close to Nisaki. It’s idyllic.

A home from home: The glorious Katavolos HouseKatavolos House
A home from home: The glorious Katavolos HouseKatavolos House

Alex Eagle, creative director: Patmos

Patmos has lovely white painted Greek architecture, winding cobbled streets, and an amazing history which is quite humbling. Everything revolves around the sea, so we spend a lot of time on the beach, diving and visiting other islands. Patmos has a vibe like no other place. There is an energy there that is compelling - you can relax and recharge but the island also gives you energy back. I stay with friends and it is always so social. It’s such a fun place to be young, kids of all ages are out and about. Lots of people who go to Patmos visit the island year after year, so there is a relaxed familiarity. It feels safe, it’s a heavenly place, really.

A bird’s eye view of the Patmos coastlineUNSPLASH
A bird’s eye view of the Patmos coastlineUNSPLASH

Georgiana Huddart, Hunza G co-founder: Paxos

I adore travelling to Paxos and Antipaxos, a small group of islands in the Ionian Sea just off Corfu. Crystal clear waters and idyllic coastline make a stay on the islands akin to a stay in the Caribbean.

Paxos has such a good vibe that once you’ve been, you wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. For us, nothing beats a week-long stay on the island with long days exploring Paxos’ notorious beaches and evenings spent at one of the tavernas across the island.

My favourite place to watch the sun go down is Bella Vista, a beach bar and restaurant overlooking Paralia Voutoumi beach in Antipaxos. Ben’s Bar in North Eastern Paxos is a family favourite, the perfect place for calamari and ouzo after a long day on Lakkos or Orkos Beach. When we want to step it up a notch we always go back to Averto restaurant and treat ourselves to a long, slow dinner, The food and drink is divine and it’s the perfect place to switch off.

The crystal blue waters near Lakkos beachShutterstock
The crystal blue waters near Lakkos beachShutterstock

Lydia Forte, Rocco Forte hotelier: Antiparos

Though I’m Italian, I have been converted to Greek summers by my husband who's family comes mainly from Xios, a beautiful island in the North East of the Aegean. For me, Greece is particularly special because of the sheer number of islands, their enormous diversity and lack of development on them. It’s still possible to find yourself in any number of bays swimming completely alone, which is unheard of anywhere else in the Mediterranean.

We mainly try to avoid the busier islands and love some lesser known, sleepy islands such as Astypalea with its hilltop fort or Kimmolos which is tiny but worth a day trip. Antiparos has always been a favourite and has some lovely, chic shops and great restaurants as well as a vibrant social life. One of the best walks I've ever done was on Kefalonia, hiking up from the truly charming town of Asos all the way up to the ruins of the Venetian castle there.

The ‘charming town of Asos’UNSPLASH
The ‘charming town of Asos’UNSPLASH

For some of the most interesting culture, I would recommend the kouros statues on Naxos. Finally, for the best, long, summer lunch, head to Nicholas on Skinousa. Order the lobster spaghetti, sea urchin and taramasalata, then order it all again.

White washed buildings in AntiparosUNSPLASH
White washed buildings in AntiparosUNSPLASH