It’s tough being the younger sister of a superstar. Ask Dannii Minogue. Ask Solange Knowles. Ask Jackie Collins. In the case of Once, sister hotel to Mykonos legend Theoxenia, it’s a similar story. She may be fresher and funkier, but it’s a lot to live up to.
Theoxenia is right in the middle of Mykonos Town, just by the windmills with a history that includes various Rolling Stones, Jackie O and lots of other rich, pointless people. While Once, formerly a millionaire’s mansion, has a slightly tougher nut to crack.
Out on Ornos Bay, a great little spot with beaches and restaurants and bars and boats that will take you round to probably Mykonos’s best gay beach, Elias, Once is still brilliantly located but you’ll need a cab to get to the bars in town. It’s worth it.
As you approach, the place looks huge, a big white hotel nestled into a whole hill. But it’s an illusion. Not one big building but a group of little villas, mostly two-storey. All of them have their little differences: some have dipping pools, some don’t. Some have hammocks. Some have outdoor furniture. Some have bigger pools. Little gardens out front, planting on flat roofs, all this in white and natural stone. It gives it all a bit of a village-y feel. If you know any really glamorous villages, that is.
Up at reception, the glamour stakes rise. Walk – or golf buggy – up past the funny little church and find a space that is white on white with cool art dotted around and outsize pots and designer furniture and slated shades that throw stripes over everything and reception desks that look like they’ve been hewn out of chunks of rock – and maybe they have! – it’s contemporary paradise with sea views. And lots of them.
Walk through and you get to the pool… and more sea views, which you can take in from the loungers under funny little tripod-like shades or from the circular pods that bob around on the pool itself. Sunbathers this is your spot (even more so than Theoxenia…. Don’t say anything). It’s here that you can have your sunset drinks in mini-VIP rooms that are submerged into the pool itself.
You can also have your cocktails at the Infinity Bar or order up lunch out here on the terrace. Or your dinner. Chef Nikos Skordakis went the extra mile for us turning out a fully vegan dinner (though there are vegan options anyway…) as we looked out to sea. It’s also a great spot for breakfast.
The rooms are simple, modern and very white with those little dipping pools providing the perfect spot to have a pre-dinner cocktail while someone takes ABSOLUTELY AGES to do their hair (you know who you are!) And your neighbours are near enough to say ‘hi’ or even have a drink with (seeing as the straighteners haven’t even been plugged in yet!) but far enough to be ignorable.
And don’t forget the spa, its own little building with its own little pool (and its own little sea views!) just down from the funny little church. We only found it because we were in the gym, the one with sea views, and got tempted by the massage menu. You can also do outdoor yoga here.
With all these views and all this loveliness, you might not worry about how nice the people are but it seems that Once has put the hospitality at the centre of its offering with staff that really don’t seem to be able to do enough for you. A boat? Here’s the timetable, tell us if you want us to book it. A cocktail we’ve never heard of? Unlikely, but we’ll give it a go. Extra champagne at breakfast? Why not take the bottle! You want a buggy? Again? Of course, and don’t worry about loading those heavy cases in it.
It might have been a tough call for Once to live up to its older glamorous sister Theonexia but we reckon she’s done exactly the right thing: make a thing of being younger and hope everyone notices how beautiful you are.