It’s a brave person who builds a new hotel in Mykonos. Not only is there already a wealth of world-class loveliness when it comes to the hotel market, but people are proprietorial when it comes to this most beloved of all Greek islands. Especially the LGBTQ community, who were early adopters and still have spiritual ownership of the place.
But whoever it was who decided to build Kalesma certainly knew what they were doing. The brief seems to have been make it as beautiful as possible but in the spirit of Mykonos, a spirit that is part mystical, part glamorous and whole load of fun.
The location is already a winner: lording it over Ornos Bay, with royal box views of kiss curls on the Med, water sweet with all that sun, all rounded off with spectacular sunsets. And Mykonos knows spectacular sunsets. Then there’s the overall layout, which makes Kalesma feel more like a design village than an actual hotel: buildings are free-standing whether they’re suites, villas or the public areas around the bar, narrow, undulating streets navigate you around the place then, at the holy centre of things, the pool, restaurant, bar and fire-pit.
Then there’s the design, which is the real clincher. Walk into your suite – down a couple of stairs, through a gate, which makes everything seem really private – and into your own world of pinch-yourself loveliness. Your private pool right there, a table for outdoor dining in front of it, the bathroom complete with a built-in tub and an outdoor shower to the left and the hugeness of your suite to the right. Open the curtains in your bedroom and there’s more pool, coming round the corner at you, meaning you can get out of bed and step straight into it.
The design is traditional Greek but with a colour palette that’s totally modern. The rounded corners of the white box buildings are there but there’s none of that ubiquitous Greek blue, just neutrals from white through cream to the palest of beiges. Fabrics are natural, shelves are built in from the same material as the walls and floors are stone softened with organic-feeling rugs. Ceilings and headboards are wooden, floor-to-ceiling drapes give all the right drama and traditional-looking chairs with wooden frames are dotted here, even there. The details – and we’re all about details – are simply perfect. Oh, and that big block of mirror that almost disappears? That’s your TV. And that’s clever.
You could get away with never leaving your suite or villa. Why would you? The pool, the view, the loveliness… But – quite apart from needing to get into town to do the traditional tour of Elysium for sunset cocktails and drag, Portas, dinner, Portas, Lola’s and finally Jackie O – there’s no reason we can think of not to come out and enjoy the rest of what Kalesma has to offer.
Be sociable around the wrap-around pool with stepping stones so you can cross it and which, at dipping level, melts into the Med beyond; have breakfast, lunch and/or dinner in the almost monastically simple Pere Ubu restaurant or outside it under the dappled shade of the al fresco area as you enjoy the house DJ; sit up at the pool bar and order yourself wines as the sun sets over the sea into golden hour, all that Cycladic blue that people lose their schizz over; or wait until the sun has gone and move over to the fire-pit area fringed by olive trees. There are even very glamorous retail opportunities in the bijou boutique just off reception and you could even work out, if that doesn’t go against your ‘I’m on my holidays!’ resolutions.
They say that fortune favours the brave and it was a bold move to build something as beautiful (and as expensive to build!) as Kalesma – but the finished result is a real asset to this most cherished of destinations. We might have been having words if it had turned out differently.