The best family hotels in Greece

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The best family hotels in Europe come with a slightly longer list of requirements than your usual beloved bolthole.

Easy to get to, relaxed atmosphere, early dining options, activities on offer, adjoining rooms, and a kid’s club are the bare minimum.

The list of appealing family perks at these Greek island hotels cover these and then some,

from sprawling villa stays that come with hotel services to family cookery classes, tennis academies, and front row seats to some of the best beaches in the Med.

For the perfect half-term hideouts, look no further than our pick of the best family hotels in Greece below.

Porto Zante, Zakynthos  {Booking now here}

This private hideaway on the Ionian island of Zakynthos has nailed the Greek Islands villa vibe but with all the services of a full-throttle hotel: a fantastic restaurant, an incredibly comprehensive spa, a chill-out bar and 24-hour room service. Porto Zante’s eight houses, which are built into the rocks overlooking a secluded, sandy beach, are smart but not unnervingly so. {Booking now here}

There are Armani Casa sofas and lamps, mythological paintings by prominent Greek artist Alekos Fassianos, some of the whizziest gadgets from Bang & Olufsen, Bernardaud porcelain and Bulgari lotions and potions in the bathrooms, but sticky fingers are certainly not frowned upon (maybe steer them away from the Christofle wine glasses though). Pre-order cots and high chairs (and some plastic plates and cups too). {Booking now here}

Once here, babysitting and daily activities can be organised in a jiffy, and the pool filled with toys. There’s a sweet little playground and mini-golf, table tennis and pony riding from the nearby stables. Just in front of the villas, down the stone steps straight into the water, there is excellent snorkelling, jet- and water-skiing, wakeboarding, and banana and donut rides in the next bay.

Break out of the bubble and visit Marathonisi island to see loggerhead sea turtles – the largest hard-shelled turtle in the world. Charter the speedboat for the day or go at an easier pace on the sailing yacht, discovering hidden coves on the way to Navagio Beach, with its crystal-clear waters and the rusting wreck of a Greek freight ship. {Booking now here}

Domes Zeen Chania, Crete  {Booking now here}

A new breed of family-friendly hotels in Greece is being born. Spaces where the design is as exciting as the children’s activities; where parents can pretend – if they ignore their offspring instigating a water fight in the sleek, black-tiled pool – they’re still the kind of people who hang out at beach clubs. Domes Zeen, which originally opened as Casa Cook Chania a few summers ago, is one such spot. Concrete villas spill down the hillside from a modernist reception that wouldn’t look out of place in Palm Springs, the work of those in-demand Athenian architects K-Studio (of hit Mykonos beach bar Scorpios). At its foot, life centres around the pool: families camped out on one side, nearest to the kids’ club; couples opposite dozing under thatched parasols, the pebbly beach just beyond. The fashionable crowd is instantly recognisable: toddlers in Liewood leopard-print swimsuits and mothers with Isabel Marant beach bags stuffed with toys; Dutch parents in power linen who crack open the rosé as soon as nap time rolls around; bleary-eyed Berliners on baby’s first holiday ordering purées with their poolside poké bowls. There are rooms with a window seat that cleverly turns into a third bed, and multi-roomed villas, all with private or shared pools. Interiors include muted textiles and rattan touches that are both covetable and child-proof in one. {Booking now here}

The club is just as considered, and has an environmentally conscious, Montessori-led, creativity-inspiring ethos. This translates as sessions crafting tic-tac-toe sets from painted rocks and castles out of cardboard; decorating photo frames with shells; cookie baking and yoga. Families reconvene for outings into Chania with mapped-out recommendations such as coffee roastery Kross and restaurant/shop Ginger Concept, or a boat trip to Loutro, a tiny, whitewashed village on a turquoise bay further south. Back at the hotel, the all-day Beach House turns out healthy food with Cretan flavours, from breakfasts of DIY grain bowls and local cheeses and pastries to hearty, slow-cooked pork belly and homemade kalitsounia pie for supper. New this year is the smaller, splashier Estia restaurant and an Elemis-backed spa. Greece has long nailed family holidays, and this stay marks the next generation.

INSIDER TIP Rooms – except for the top villa – don’t have baths, so request a baby one (and other kit to save on packing space) before you arrive. {Booking now here}

Beach House, Antiparos {Booking now here}

Greece is a shoo-in when it comes to a sure-fire, happiness-through-the-ranks holiday. Turbo hotels, with kids’ clubs, a clutch of restaurants and private beaches, are dotted across the direct-flight islands and throughout Halkidiki on the mainland; unsurprisingly they come with crowds of repeat guests. For those seeking a slower pace, a simpler barefoot offering in the harder-to-reach parts of the Aegean scratches a more adventurous itch. Antiparos is barely more than a dusty islet, half an hour by ferry from Paros. It’s the antithesis of Crete’s package trips, Mykonos’s party-hard beach clubs, or the teenage rite-of-passage scene in Corfu’s Kassiopi. In fact, there’s very little going on. Opened six years ago, Beach House is a Cycladic villa right on a sheltered bay on the south-east coast – a rustic set-up where good vibes rule. The nine rooms are simple, with blue shutters and bougainvillaea-framed terraces, and the three family suites are the ones to book. Mornings on the beach are especially lovely. Breakfast on wooden tables, cats weaving in and out of chair legs, is a feast of any-way eggs, thick yogurt, honey and spanakopita. Kids can mess about in the playground, where activities are laid on during most of July and August, while grown-ups stay horizontal on sunbeds. The beachfront bar plays trip hop, and the rosé is ice cold. Lunches and suppers showcase authentic food with a deft hand: catch of the day, octopus risotto, seafood spaghetti, plus a marginally less fishy children’s menu. Yoga sessions and boat rides are available; the clear sea is great for swimming and snorkelling (there’s no pool). It feels like a mini Formentera. Supremely low-key but nails all you really need: good food and good wine, lots of fussing over the children, charming staff and comfortable beds.  {Booking now here}

INSIDER TIP The season is short. The hotel stays open until October, but even early September can start to feel a bit shuttered up. Those not constrained by school holidays should come in June.

Costa Navarino, Peloponnese {Booking now here}

Vassilis Constantakopoulos, aka The Captain, was a man with a vision. Having made his billions in shipping, he dedicated his life to regenerating Messinia, the Peloponnese peninsula where he grew up, and the result was this estate of hotels and villas, golf courses and restaurants, all with a committed eco punch. It sounds vast and unwieldy, but the design is clever, the landscape swallows up the buildings, the stone echoes the surrounding villages, and the dunes still have a feeling of wildness. Environmental awareness and conservation are all encompassing – rainwater reservoirs keep the rolling fourways a vibrant green, waste water irrigates plants and the beaches are protected because of the sea turtles who lay their eggs there (the Barbouni beach club even closes at 5pm so as not to disturb them).  {Booking now here}

Pick between the Romanos and Westin hotels. The former is more reserved, the latter more obviously family friendly, though they share everything – the restaurants, sunbeds on the beaches, swimming pools and spas. Two kids’ clubs come with an army of dedicated local teachers to entertain their charges, and a long-as-your-arm menu of activities including Young Gardeners, which takes them out to the hotels’ vegetable patch to sow and harvest. After a busy morning of gardening, children squeeze onto benches under an ancient olive tree to tuck into Greek salad drizzled with local olive oil. Older children can launch themselves at the climbing wall, bowling alley, tennis courts, water slides or cinema, or sign up for football coaching, while parents munch on Kalamata olives and taste wine from the hotel vineyards. For more adventurous guests, or those revising for an Ancient History GCSE, there are 10 major sites on the doorstep, including the Palace of Nestor, which was, fittingly, renowned for its hospitality.  {Booking now here}

INSIDER TIP Book one of the sailing boats for a voyage to Proti Island, which lurks crocodile-like in the Ionian. Sail into the natural harbour and see the messages scratched into the walls by sailors to warn others of the local pirates.

Santa Marina, Mykonos {Booking now here}

Forget about nightclubs and the hedonistic party vibe. The Greek island of Mykonos has, just like Ibiza, a calmer family-friendly side. Although this hotel isn’t suitable for those with toddlers – there are far too many low walls and unnerving drops – for children just that little bit older it’s bliss: close to the airport, with super-friendly staff, and gorgeous views. Whether you’re staring out to Ornos Bay with its bobbing boats and backdrop of sugar-cube houses, or out the other way over the turquoise sea, with the hazy outline of Paros and Naxos in the distance – you’ll be serenely happy. Even more so, perhaps, on discovering the kids’ club, set right next to the main pool and free for those aged between two and 12. There are stacks of games and cheery English-speaking staff, so they probably won’t even notice you’re gone. Add to this a tennis court with resident coach, a brilliant playground and a pretty beach. If you want to avoid steep steps, of which there are many, plump for connecting rooms rather than the villas at the top of the hill. The groovy little spa has a host of Ila treatments. And as night falls, the Buddha-Bar Beach restaurant and bar does all it can to make parents feel cool again, with front-row seats looking over the Aegean Sea and a resident DJ. You may not be dancing till dawn, but you’ve still made it to Mykonos.  {Booking now here}

The Peligoni Club, Zakynthos {Booking now here}

Twitchy teens want fun-filled, adrenalin-fuelled days and freedom at night; parents want a stress-free family holiday before they all properly grow up and flee. This is the happy compromise. A rustic, open-air club (driftwood signposting, white-painted furniture) surrounded by olive trees with a two-room spa, swimming pool and bamboo-shaded restaurant where everyone gathers for ruthless games of backgammon. The idea is simple: Peligoni sorts out your villa or hotel (such as the lovely Nobelos, run by Fotini – don’t miss her incredible home-made ice cream – and then you spend your days at The Club, sunbathing on the series of platforms clinging to the rocks that lead down to the sea, each decked out with huge loungers, umbrellas and large cushions. {Booking now here}

While there’s no sandy beach, the crystal clear sea is what it’s all about – pick up the bill for the watersports package, which means unlimited tuition for sailing and windsurfing (motorised antics are extra). Mostland-based activities are geared towards over-eights, who can make pizzas in the outdoor oven, play in tennis tournaments or – and this is a real highlight – take a three-hour, parent-free boat trip to Alykes village to spend pocket-money on a costume for the weekly fancy-dress party night. Staff are young, tanned university students; many spent their own holidays here. The food is aimed at big numbers but with no buffet in sight. Feast on Greek salads, red mullet with Mediterranean vegetables and serious puddings (deconstructed cheesecake with roast peaches) It’s all very laid-back: twice a week there is a hog roast and a BBQ where the parents all sit together and children are split off into different age groups to be with their friends. Go snorkelling in the blue caves near Shipwreck Beach, and be sure to head into Agios Nikolaos village on the next-door bay with its loved-by-locals taverna and Greek music filling the air.  {Booking now here}

Skiathos Princess, Skiathos {Booking now here}

This is a family affair, with owner Vicky Santikos bringing in daughter Katerina and son Konstantinos to help run the show. Along with creating a series of Californian-style, calorie-controlled meal plans, Katerina has injected the place with boho-glamour. But while rooms are spacious and comfortable, air conditioning units are prone to drips and TV channels are fuzzy (forget CBeebies). On the plus side, many of them have spectacular views across the hotel’s grassy lawns that lead directly to the beach. And what a beach. Agia Paraskevi is one of the best on the island. It’s a spotless crescent of golden sand sprinkled with rustic straw shades, and has exceptionally safe swimming. Wade 15 metres out and the tide line will only be nudging your hips, and there’s nothing but gently rippling sand underfoot. The island of Skiathos is small and intensely green. A network of hiking trails crisscross the shoreline and excursions to an inland dog shelter can be arranged, where children can take puppies for walks. Older kids can enjoy the inflatables and motorised watersports for hire at the public end of the beach. And little adventurers aged seven-plus can try their hand at the new craze, YogAqua. {Booking now here}

Sani Resort, Halkidiki {Booking now here}

Here in a vast eco reserve is a gloriously chic, purpose-built Greek village. There’s the obligatory quayside with a flotilla of boats, smart restaurants and simple tavernas (most of which cater for children), plus a clutch of hotels (all part of the Sani Resort) to choose from. If privacy and space are paramount, go for Asterias Suites. A string of spacious, light-flooded suites dotted along a private stretch of beach, they are formal but comfortably elegant, with floaty sheer curtains and cool stone underfoot (book a two-bedroom beachfront family suite for direct access to the sand). {Booking now here}

It’s the little things that count: the swim nappies and sterilising equipment set up on arrival; the world-class chefs on tap; the attentive, but never intrusive, service. There’s an outstanding crèche and an award-winning children’s club, all run by the Worldwide Kids Company. Then there’s the genius of Babe Watch. Dig holes and dip toes together, then wave to a nanny and hand over the bucket and spade. It’s instant babysitting, so you can take a lazy lap of the cerulean waters, or just lie back and close your eyes for a minute. Away from the water, there are bikes to rent and forest trails to follow. Later, catch a film together at the open-air cinema, or let them splash around in the pool while you watch the boats return to their moorings at sunset with a mojito at the Water Bar.  {Booking now here}

Daios Cove, Crete {Booking now here}

A balm for overworked, whacked-out parents, with stone-built villas dotted around an olive-tree-covered cove. It may be big – there are 300 rooms and 39 villas – but service is as smooth and polished as the marble floors, with fragrant hand towels, iced water and electric buggies to glide you noiselessly to your door. Villas are split over two storeys, with sitting rooms leading out to the infinity pool and terrace, and the master suite and balcony below. Children can sleep on a sofa bed in the top half, with their own bathroom – an arrangement that works surprisingly well. What the rooms may lack in character they make up for in quality and extravagant extras: lengthy pillow menus, iPod docking stations, a choice of mango, vanilla or violet fragrances to be fed into the air-conditioning, and Château Margaux (at €1,800) on the room-service menu. Whenever you return, a little treat is waiting: pastel- coloured macaroons, giant cupcakes or feta muffins. Bars, restaurants and the swimming pool area are all on different levels up the rocky sides of the bay, accessed by a funicular rail car. And though it feels rather resorty, the Crete hotel’s eco credentials are impeccable, with water recycling and heat-recovery systems all working behind the scenes. Evenings are low-key and family-friendly with help-yourself buffets that major on Greek classics, from souvlaki and dolmades to filo-wrapped prunes. There’s also, of course, a kids’ club, with mini discos, the occasional games night and babysitting. At the beach, the sea is shallow and shelves some 15 metres out, making for child-friendly rippling waves. Children can while away the time with their complimentary buckets and spades.  {Booking now here}

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