Named from the circle they form around the sacred island of Delos, the Cyclades offer Greece’s best opportunity to island-hop. Each isle in the breezy Aegean has its own strong, distinct character based on traditions, customs and topography.
Mykonos, by far the most popular of the group, offers a teeming old town, sophisticated restaurants, clubs, luxury hotels and selection of swanky 24 hour party beaches popular with creme de la creme high rollers and throngs of perfectly tanned (and dare I say adorable) gays. Each summer the island fills to the brim with millions of tourists who descend from all over the world via plane, ferry, yacht and cruise ship. The glitterati “who’s who” arrive to soak up the sun while enjoying the islands world famous hedonistic haunts.
In 2014 the Boheme Mykonos welcomed its first guests, offering jet-setting tastemakers a new home away from home via bohemian chic luxury living. Perched on a sun soaked breezy cliff, the isle’s newest posh design savvy property features twenty stunning suites, outdoor swimming pool surrounded by al fresco restaurant and bar, pomegranate and lemon tree dotted garden and a massage cabana featuring jaw dropping views of Delos.
If you are looking to treat your honey to an unforgettable vacation be sure to book the Bohemian Sea View Suite. The jaw dropping open plan double bedded suite features rustic furniture, tranquility rain shower and grand private terrace outfitted with bubbling hot tub and comfy bedded lounge.
There is no better way to start the day then by watching the sunrise while a decadent breakfast spread is quietly set up on your very own tiny table. Wrapped in plush white robe, soak up the early rays while sipping espresso, scooping custard soft yogurt doused in honey and slathering croissant with creamy nutella and strawberry jam. Tan fans tend to loiter by the pool during the day, sipping on champagne while nibbling on fresh tzatziki slathered souvlaki. If you find yourself adventuring around the island be sure to return to the hotel just before the sunsets. You’ll be gobsmacked each eve at dinner as the colour wheel explodes across the endless Aegean.
The Boheme’s lone massage therapist Giannis Kouremadis has magical hands, smug mug and enthusiasm for his craft. Feel your fantasy via herbal infused seashell massage, soothing aromatic hot wax treatment or signature body work trilogy featuring techniques borrowed from the schools of deep tissue, Swedish massage and Hawaiian lomilomi. The treatment cabana is tranquil, offering stunning views overlooking the Isle of Delos, a stones throw from the properties lemon and pomegranate garden. Birds sing a sweet melody, cats purr, ocean roars and I snore.
The remains of ancient Delos, the Cyclades’ sole UNESCO Heritage Site, mange to convey the past grandeur of this small, sacred isle a few kilometres west of Mykonos. The ancient town lies on the west coast on flat, sometimes marshy ground that rises in the south to Mount Kynthos, beneath which spreads the sanctuary dedicated to Apollo and his sister Artemis. The Odyssey and the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, written about 700 BC, refer to Delos as a famous religious centre of the Ionians. A large city of about 30,000 inhabitants grew up around the sanctuary in the Hellenistic period.
Hop on a quick ferry from Mykonos port and hike around the ruins to your hearts content. I try and avoid guided tours as you often end up feeling like herded cattle. You can visit the ruins easily in under two hours and one can assume that after several days of champagne splashed all-nighters you’ll be keen to tap into the the ancient city’s heroic history.
Mykonos is undeniably Greece’s numero uno party island and shares the “best of Europe” rank with Spain’s Ibiza. Your visit is not complete until you’ve indulged in a proper sud-sloshed late night bacchanal. The old town takes on an entirely new look in the eve, offering couples a wildly romantic backdrop. Be sure to stuff your pockets with plenty of moolah as the cat’s meow costs a pretty penny.
I spent Friday night running around town with my very own local gay guide. He was a true gem, being sure to point out his favourite off the beaten track alley’s and plaza’s that most tourists miss. We started by wandering through old town’s cutesy “Little Venice,” a slender boardwalk lined with trendy restaurants. Hungry guests literally float over the water as they devour their dinners. Ocean waves crash, offering a refreshing quench around the ankles which to most is a lovely luxury on a hot summers night.
We followed our noses, past bustling restaurants whose kitchen’s let off an addictive perfume featuring sultry EVOO, grilled prawns, sharp garlic and aromatic parsley. But a whisper away and we found ourselves strolling through an endless maze of narrow shopping streets which were dotted with white washed chapels and staircases that played home to cuddle-me kittens.
We sipped the best cocktails that eve at the simply titled Alley Bar. Bartenders Vassilis and Pavlos are the sort of handsome you can’t believe actually exists. I watched the two gents shake up a string of cocktails with great enthusiasm. The Greek Mojito features strong white rum, Greek mountain tea, fresh mint and lime while Penelope, served in a mason jar chalice streams out of the blender a pretty pink and features mastiha liqueur, rum, yogurt, strawberries, honey, cinnamon and vanilla bitters.
The two most popular gay bars are located right on the harbour and in the summer months gays from near and afar pack inside like sardines. Today Jackie O’s is the island’s quintessential gay bar, featuring a chilled out lounge where handsome gays (and their female admirers) sip bubbly until sunrise. Past A-List guests include fashion icon Jean Paul Gautier, pop princess Lady Gaga and Elton John’s entourage. For those looking to let loose via electric dance floor hop over to Babylon and raise your hands under a shining disco ball as gays catch a thirst quench on bottles of Mythos lager.
I’m of course always keen on knowing where locals go to enjoy late night drunk eats, and a surefire win is Sakis Grill. Stumble up the restaurants steps and grab a piping hot gyro: house made pita stuffed with french fries, thinly sliced spiced pork and creamy tzatziki. You’ll be licking your lips as you zig-zag your way through winding streets before gleefully flopping into bed.
While lounging by the pool is a perfect way to rest and relax, the islands famed beaches (and their epic 24 hour parties) are what the Mykonos experience is all about. While most of the island is rural there are a few gems worth visiting on a cross island road trip.
I was hilariously told by a local, “we only have 33 taxi’s in Mykonos, no more, no less. In the summer it is best to walk around town but if you want to explore rent a motorcycle or 4×4 and you’ll enjoy a memorable joy ride!” If you are looking to drop thousands of dollars in a day, head to Psarou Beach to indulge in a battle of the pish posh. This is where the Kardashian’s come to play when they visit and if snobbery here is in question my guide offers the perfect chirp, “if you don’t plan on spending a fortune the staff here are not very friendly.”
Of course my attentions were focussed on the islands two most famous gay beaches. Historically Elia beach was where the fancy gays came out to play. Today the beach is still a hot spot for queer kids but most of the traffic has moved to Super Paradise Beach just down the road. A few years ago the management at Jackie O’s in the old town launched a unique beach party concept which has now come to define what a perfectly gay beach party looks like. If you have one day Mykonos (or a dying wish) spend it here.
There are two other gems outside of town which you best not miss. Make a quick stop in the tiny town of Ano Mera and whisk your way through the Holy Monastery of Tourliani. Originally built in 1547, the ancient religious site plays home to a bright purple bougainvillaea and ten practicing monks.
Every road trip requires a pit stop and without a doubt you’ll need to patiently wait in a line which snakes outside of Kiki’s Taverna. The restaurant overlooks a tiny beach and is wildly popular with locals looking for an authentic taste of place. Kiki’s is most unique as it has no access to electricity and the chef here and his family prepare recipes as they would have been made a hundred years ago via wood-fired oven. I shared my most relaxing moment in Mykonos sipping wine at Kiki’s. I closed my eyes as the sun splashed across my face and the sweet smell of grilled pork and fresh feta had me calmly seated at the edge of ecstasy.
My visit to Mykonos was a press trip coordinated in conjunction with my speaking gig at TBEX via This Is Athens and Aqua Vista Hotels. Transportation, accommodation, meals and activities featured in this destination guide were complimentary.