Classic Cycladic style
Sifnos is the perfect balance of seclusion and sophistication. In the rugged hills, stone-paved trails thread past honeycombed dovecotes and blue-domed chapels. On the sandy bays, bronzed beauties kick back with cucumber margaritas and baby squid tempura. In the sugar cube villages, design hotels nestle beside wood-fired bakeries.
The definition of low-key luxury, Sifnos has everything in moderation. You’ll find old-time tavernas with tables in the sand at Vathy. Stylish boutiques and late-night bars in Apollonia. Ancient columns propping up medieval houses in Kastro. Wafts of jasmine and flashes of hot pink bougainvillea in the whitewashed alleys of Artemonas, one of the prettiest villages in the Cyclades.
If you love food, you will love Sifnos. The island has been a gourmet destination since Nikos Tselementes wrote the first Greek cookbook a century ago. While Tselementes aspired to haute cuisine, today’s locals excel at Greek soul food: chickpea croquettes flecked with marjoram, caramelised onion and caper stew, slow-roast lamb with dill and red wine. Dishes are named after the terracotta casseroles handmade in the island’s potteries, where you can pick up exquisite ceramics for a song.
Authentic and unpretentious, Sifnos is accessible (3 hours by ferry from Athens) but still deliciously traditional. Little wonder it’s so popular with affluent Athenians and cosmopolitan tastemakers. From grand manor houses to breezy bungalows, we have exclusive access to some of the most stylish villas on this very special island.
The prettiest port in the Aegean
Less than two hours’ ferry ride from overrun Rhodes, Symi is a world apart. There are no cruise ships, coach parties, or high-rise resorts.
Only handsome yachts, castaway coves, and sublime monasteries camouflaged in ancient cypress forests. The craggy coastline is sprinkled with dramatic beaches and sleepy fishing villages, most only accessible by boat or on foot. There’s only one ragged road that careers across the island’s mountainous spine to Panormitis monastery, a seaside sanctuary for Greek Orthodox pilgrims.
Perfectly preserved and blissfully unspoiled, Symi’s earthly charms also have plenty of devotees. Yachties cruise over from the Turkish coast to dive into the cerulean sea. Glamorous Italian lovers fall for the ravishing sunsets and amazing seafood (deep-fried baby shrimp is a local speciality). Boho French families come for the laidback vibe and elegant architecture.
Neoclassical mansions in every shade of peach, apricot and cantaloupe line the horseshoe harbour and surrounding hills. Built by 19th century merchants who made their fortunes shipping sponges and spices to Asia Minor, the whole town has been designated a national monument. Steep steps lead up to Horio, the sleepy upper town, a tumble of ruins with staggering views.
Understated but sophisticated, Symi is like Sorrento with better beaches and far fewer crowds. With an almost tropical microclimate, it’s especially lovely in low season. That’s a blessing, because regulars snap up the best holiday homes in high season. But you don’t have to worry about that. We can unlock some very special villas on Symi that epitomise timeless Greek island style.
The divine allure of isolation
Small and fiendishly remote (there’s no airport), Patmos is one of those out-of-the-way islands that’s only on the radar of those in the know. Steeped in mystique, the island’s crowning glory is the majestic monastery of St John, looming above the candle-lit grotto where John the Apostle spilled out the Book of Revelations.
A crenellated fortress brimming with Byzantine treasures, the monastery exudes a powerful influence over the island. The church has also kept nightlife in check, though you’ll find plenty of action in the little bars clustered around the harbour, Skala. Fishermen whisk sun-worshippers to far-flung beaches, while black-robed monks go about their devotions.
The dramatic landscape has a stark, elemental beauty. Burnished hills bathed in light so intense it seems otherworldly. Thyme-scented valleys that echo with the distant chime of goat bells. The surprise of a crystal cove around every twist and turn in the road. Water so clear you can see tiny crabs tiptoeing across the seabed.
The chic elite stays in the hilltop Hora, a beautifully preserved slice of Byzantium. It’s a world heritage site – yet a hushed awe hovers over the tangle of whitewashed alleys, even in high season. Hidden behind high walls and carved doors are the most exquisite mansions anywhere in Greece. We have the keys to some truly remarkable homes, featured in the world’s leading interiors magazines.
Having spent every summer on Patmos for almost 30 years, we are the specialists of this very particular destination.