The best family-friendly hotels to book in mainland Greece
Greeks are famously family-orientated and enjoy an easy-going, outdoorsy way of life that’s perfect for all ages. On the mainland, you might fly direct to the capital, Athens, then stay at an out-of-town waterside resort. Alternatively, head north to Thessaloniki and explore the glorious Halkidiki peninsula. Jane Foster picks three of her favourite places
Sporty kids will love Sani, an extensive resort in Halkidiki, which hosts a Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre, a Football Academy (run by the Chelsea FC Foundation) and a Bear Grylls Survival Academy. Abutting a 7km white sandy beach, offering kayaking, wind-surfing, water-skiing and scuba-diving, it’s backed by a vast reserve of pinewoods, with 20km of trails for jogging and mountain biking. It consists of five luxurious hotels and a superb range of restaurants and bars. Nominated the World’s Leading Family & Beach Resort 2021, its services include private nannies, crèches and kids clubs. On the beach, Babe Watch Nannies are professionals who play with kids on the sand, while parents swim and sunbathe. Special children’s menus are devised by British chef and child nutritionist Annabel Karmel, while Carol Mae Consulting gives expert advice on sleep patterns.
Don’t miss: Sani’s five spas offer a luscious selection of health and beauty treatments and yoga classes with dramatic views of Mount Olympus rising across the bay. They also have special spa menus for 12-16-year-olds.
Stay: Under 12s stay free at the Sani Beach Hotel. Here a Family Room (sleeping four) comprises two interconnecting doubles, while the Family Suite (sleeping five) has two bedrooms plus a living room.
The iconic Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel in Athens opened in 1961 and was adored by the likes of Bridget Bardot, Jackie Onassis and Sean Connery. On a private peninsula planted with pines and cypresses, its three secluded sandy bays afford sublime views over the glistening Aegean. It lies just 45 minutes from central Athens, meaning guests can combine leisure and cultural sightseeing. Reopened as a Four Seasons property in 2019, it now has 303 rooms, plus 61 bungalows and an expansive spa (opening image). The new Kids for All Seasons club does activities for children aged four to 12, so parents can indulge in time alone. Meanwhile, teens will relish kayaking, SUPs and two heated outdoor pools. For a real treat, book a private sailing trip to the nearby islands from the hotel jetty out front. After dark, request baby-sitting for the little ones, then dine at the resort’s waterside Michelin-starred Pelagos – the signature dish is wild sea bass with artichoke and caviar.
Don’t miss: The concierge can arrange family-friendly tours of Athens’ Acropolis and its magnificent temples, bringing to life ancient myths and moody gods for kids. En route into town, call at the Archelon Sea Turtle Rescue Centre for a spot of irresistible cuteness and uplifting tales.
Stay: The bungalow suites (sleeping four) with private pool are ideal for family privacy. Alternatively, the vast Arion Royal Suite (sleeping six) comes with a private garden and plunge pool.
A member of Design Hotels, Ekies All Senses Resort is a lovely waterside retreat in Halkidiki with 80 individually decorated rooms and suites. Natural local materials, notably wood and marble, combine with contemporary and vintage furnishing to create unique interiors. Beds come with eco-friendly Coco-Mat mattresses and linens for a restful slumber. The landscaped grounds and lush planting create an unpretentious back-to-nature vibe, with a free-form seawater pool, a playground, and an open-air wellness spa offering holistic treatments using locally sourced seaweed, clay and garden herbs. The Kids’ Club runs one-week programmes – choose from creative pursuits or watersports. There’s a choice of open-air dining venues, including the romantic Treehouse – expect creative Greek cuisine prepared with local seasonal organic produce, with specials for kids, and superb cocktails. Breakfast is a feast of homemade delights, served buffet style on a wooden deck overlooking the sea.
Don’t miss: Hire a motorboat, order a picnic, then set out to explore Vourvourou Bay’s gorgeous sandy beaches, turquoise waters and nine rocky islets.
Stay: Family suites accommodate two adults and four kids – the best have private gardens with hammocks and a plunge pool.