Hotel Review: Belvedere Mykonos
For my first trip to Greece — specifically to Mykonos, one of the most gorgeous of the Cyclades Islands — I wanted to be sure to stay somewhere I could be assured a good view of the Aegean Sea. Hotel Belvedere Mykonos, perched way up on a hilltop along the central western coast of the island, definitely fit that bill, and I was happy to find a great pool scene here, as well. It was actually so hard for me to tear myself away from this relaxing place — and especially Mykonos itself — that I ended up extending my stay by several days.
The friends I was meeting up with in Mykonos were all staying at The Rochari, a reasonably-priced, family owned hotel that features traditional blue-and-white Mykonian architecture, but by the time I was ready to book a room for myself, it was sold out. I quickly bounced back from my disappointment, though, and splurged on the nearby (and more expensive) Hotel Belvedere — where my room was €315 ($355) per night.
One of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World and part of the exclusive Kiwi Collection, this is a high-design, high-end boutique hotel that's set across the street from the School of Fine Arts, a five-minute walk from the island's main town of Hora. It's ideal if you want a hotel that feels remote and private but still close to restaurants, bars and the city's Old Port, where you'll see several of those famous windmills. The Belvedere's crowd is young, hip and international, and the poolside party, which starts after dinner with a DJ spinning global electro-pop, continues into the wee hours. Mykonos' most popular beaches, Paradise and Super Paradise, are about a 15-minute drive away, but the hotel has a car and the door staff are pretty willing to help you get a taxi.
Opened in 1999, the 35-room, eight-suite Belvedere was originally carved out of an 1850s townhouse, but between 2007 and 2009, the entire hotel underwent an extensive renovation by architect and interior designer David Rockwell, whose other projects include JFK’s Jet Blue Terminal 5 and The Langham Chicago, where I stayed earlier this summer. The reno's result is seven relatively spare buildings arranged around a huge pool deck, with marble details, sparkly, modern pendant lighting and streamlined seating, as well as a lot of white stucco, stone, tile, and a little roof-thatch to remind you that you're in the Greek islands. Almost all the decor in the hotel is white or ivory with a few touches of grey, tan and green, as well as some trippy hand-carved rosewood trim that looks like polished driftwood. There are sculptures by local artists here and there, and almost everywhere you look, gorgeous views of the Aegean and the town of Hora.
My room, like all the rooms here, was sparely furnished and almost entirely white, and felt elegant and quiet. My balcony came with a decidedly non-sea-view of one of the hotel's buildings and some pretty, pink bougainvillea, but it was a nice place to sit outside with a cup of coffee in the late morning.
I had every intention of getting some work done during my trip, so I was pleased to find a desk in my room — topped with the same white Carrara marble as the floors, which felt cool even on hot days. The gauzy white curtains let in soft light that felt calming every time I came in from the blazing bright Greek sun, and the timbered ceiling was painted a pale grey.
The platform bed was just shy of being long enough for my 6'7"-tall frame, something I've had years' worth of travel to get used to; at least it was a comfortable mattress and the sheets were soft. I slept well here, every single night.
The bathroom's huge, sunken shower/tub combo were paved with yet more white Cararra marble, and the bath products were Kiehl's. Many other luxury properties on Mykonos use Greek-made Korres products, and the Belvedere is one of the only exceptions.
There was plenty of space for me in both the bedroom and the bathroom, but I did have a momentary twinge of regret about not booking one of the suites - which apparently come with unpacking and packing service and mini-bottles of Veuve Clicquot. The hotel's three villas are set apart from the rest of the property, each with a private pool, full kitchens, room enough for a group of 7-10 people, and 24-hour butler service.
I didn't have a chance to get a massage or treatment at the on-site spa or to eat at the hotel's three-level, poolside Belvedere Restaurant (which serves modern Greek cuisine and reportedly has a 5,000-bottle wine cellar), but I had an amazing sushi dinner at the property's Matsuhisa — chef Nobu Matsuhisa's only open-air restaurant — as well as a fair amount of rosé at the Belvedere Bar, which is also out by the pool and popular for both its drinks and its sunset views. (Turns out that the guy who created the martini menu here, Dale DeGroff, also founded the American Museum of the Cocktail in New Orleans — which sounds like a good place to do some future research.)
I enjoyed the hotel's complimentary breakfast each day, an indoor buffet tricked out with an enormous array of breads, egg dishes, salads, cheeses, and fruit. Happy to have access to lots of healthy choices, I carefully loaded up my plate every day and lingered over it out by the pool.
And speaking of the pool, I fell in love with the one here. Perfect for afternoon tan sessions and late-night parties, it's best to stake out your lounge chair by about 10 in the morning, even if you don't plan to lay out until later; competition for deck space can get pretty fierce. The water was warm, and the chairs came with super comfy full-sized pillows, which are a brilliant feature that I wish I could find at every pool, everywhere.
The Hotel Belvedere Mykonos was a really soothing place to be (mostly) on vacation, with a vibe that struck a nice balance between casual, authentic Greek style, modern luxury and one of the best outdoor party spots I've ever visited. My biggest complaints are about the hotel's so-so service — which surprised me at a property with such a well-heeled clientele — and the fact that the hotel had no Wi-Fi at all the last two days of my stay. More than just annoying, this felt like a huge deal breaker for me, as I would never have stayed here if I thought I couldn't get my work done - I have a daily blog to run, after all! The bigger problem, though, was that the staff didn’t really seem to care.
I'd really only recommend booking at the Belevdere if you're going to be purely on vacation and are looking to unplug. The pool deck is certainly a beautiful place to watch the sun rise and/or set over the sea, and the whole property seems designed to help you unwind and get on the Cyclades' stress-free wavelength. Mykonos itself is a fantastic destination, with great food, lots of friendly people, a fun party scene, and drop-dead gorgeous views of impossibly turquoise water — and I've missed it every day since I've left.