Mediterranean hideaways Try out stylish but discreet retreats in Greece

1 — Serifos, While Mykonos and Santorini are the megastars of the Cyclades, Serifos remains gloriously in their shadow, overlooked and undisturbed by the holidaying masses. As one guidebook puts it, “Little has happened here since Perseus returned with Medusa’s head.” There is no airport, and ferry timetables can be capricious (the time from Athens varying from two to five hours), but the journey is worth it — as your ferry pulls into the harbour, you can’t fail to be impressed by the steep, barren mountains rising straight from the shore. Improbably perched on one of these peaks is Chora, the island’s capital, among the most picturesque towns in the Mediterranean. When the Victorian English traveller Theodore Bent visited in 1883, he was shocked by the poverty and filthy living conditions, but in recent years the islanders’ humble dwellings — shepherds’ huts, sailors’ cottages, even an abattoir — have been reimagined by Athenian designers and architects as stylish but discreet retreats. Several are available to rent, or you can stay at the Coco-Mat hotel, above the white-sand beach of Vagia. Formed from a row of former miners’ huts, it has a bar and restaurant scooped out of the rock and open on one side to the elements, and exudes a sort of castaway chic. Rent a car and tour the island, stopping to walk down dusty tracks to little coves you won’t have to share.

2 — Mani, The southernmost tip of mainland Greece, the Mani peninsula gets wilder the further south you go. Its turbulent history led to the development of fortified stone tower houses, some of which are now tourist hideaways. Among them is Tainaron Blue, a three-room retreat at Vathia, and Citta dei Nicliani, a boutique hotel at Koita.

3 — Amorgos, It says much about Amorgos, the easternmost of the Cyclades, that the biggest tourist attraction is a monastic retreat. The island remains unscathed by mass tourism — not much has changed since Luc Besson shot The Big Blue here in the 1980s.

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