Sophie Goodall heads to Corfu to stay in an exclusive villa – the perfect base for relaxing and exploring the northern part of the island.
Stretched out on a padded lounger, as the Mediterranean sun warms my skin, I hear waves breaking on the shore behind me and distant birdsong from the surrounding mulberry trees.
Called to explore, I leave the sun terrace and pass a sky-blue infinity pool, slipping through a pair of iron gates before tip-toeing along stepping stones that cut through wild grasses until I reach soft sand dunes.
I quickly realise the area is deserted, and I have the beach to myself. Bliss.
Apraos Beach House is one of a select group of residence with its own private access to Apraos Beach, a sandy bay located in Kalamaki, north-east Corfu. The expansive villa is tucked away in a secluded corner of the beach, surrounded by lush greenery – and right now it’s my home-from-home.
Despite the seclusion, I don’t need to leave in search of supplies, as the palatial property is fully staffed. Managed by CV Villas, the property is part of their ABOVE range, meaning it comes with a chef and housekeeping service.
When it comes to sleeping arrangements, the main villa has six double en-suite bedrooms. Six more guests can sleep in two annexe buildings. Perfect for anyone wanting a bit of privacy, a large building at the back has its own lawned area, living space and kitchen, and double en-suite bedroom. A separate hideaway is tucked away next to the beach.
It’s a luxury home-from-home experience without the hassle. There’s no need to rush for dinner at set times or hunt down decent local eateries in the area, as we also have a concierge to hand for the duration of our stay. Requests are attended to, restaurants booked for us and local experiences organised – giving us more time to relax and socialise together.
Its easy to see why villa holidays are are on the rise. Perfect for a post-pandemic break, these properties are ideal for multi-generational families looking to reunite for quality time together, or a big holiday for a special event.
CV Villas reported an increase of 23% more bookings this year than in 2019. Greece, in particular, is soaring ahead, with a 32% increase in bookings.
One evening, a chef whips up a sumptuous three-course meal for me and my group of friends. We eat at the villa’s outdoor dining area, home to a giant table that can sit 16 comfortably.
Afterwards, we head out to the big sofas on the patio, as the sun sets over the sea. We can see Albania in the distance, twinkling in the twilight. The solitude of the villa means we can laugh and chat until the early hours, free to enjoy ourselves without fear of disturbing anyone.
What to do in Corfu?
As easy as it would be to spend your whole holiday relaxing in the villa, there’s lots to explore nearby too…
Visit fishing village, Kassiopi
A 10-minute drive from Apraos Beach House is the small fishing village of Kassiopi. The old port is situated in the heart of the town, stretching in an arc to two small jetties formed from clusters of jagged rock, which jut out into the water.
Limani Bar is the perfect breakfast stop, where you can start your day with crispy, sugary Corfiot tiganites (traditional Corfu pancakes) and tumblers of strawberry and mint soda, while you watch boats glide through the clear waters of the bay and shoals of fish skim across the pebbles of the ocean floor.
Go on a Jeep Safari
To explore more of the island, a jeep safari from €95 per person for a full-day private tour) will uncover many of northern Corfu’s hardest-to-reach gems.
Cling to your seat as you off-road through bumpy olive groves, the twisting ancient trees providing a cool canopy from the hot sun. Visit natural beauty spots, such as the wild and untouched Crab Lake, and the stunning bay of Agios Georgios.
The tour will also take you to one of the oldest villages in Corfu – Afionas, an untouched and idyllic settlement, home to buildings in every colour of the rainbow – before heading to Cape Drastis, a formation of hidden sea caves and sheer white cliffs plunging into turquoise waters.
Sample local olive oil
Head to Enotis Olive Oil Museum in Vistonas, a sleek and upmarket museum run by the Constantis family. Learn about the history of the mill, olive oil production and tree cultivation, and admire tools and machinery from years gone by.
Dip bread into the uniquely spicy and peppery Enotis olive oil and taste the mauve, small and misshapen Lianolia olives that are native to the region. Take home a bottle of the oil (€25.90) as a souvenir, or pick up soaps and natural skincare products made using the oil.
How to plan your trip
A seven-night stay at Apraos Beach House in Corfu starts from roughly €1,320pp (16 sharing). Book through CV Villas (cvvillas.com; 0203 993 6343).