We Review: Luxurious Villa Anna Maria, Halkidiki, Greece

Villa Anna Maria external from pool

 

“Mum, on my 8th birthday can we go back to the house in Greece with the pool?”

“Why your 8th birthday?”

“Because that’s when I’ll be grown up and I really want to go back to the house with the pool in Greece because I LOVE it and it has a POOL and it has a PLAYROOM and it has lots and lots of TOYS! AND I LOVE THE POOL!

Anna was talking about Luxurious Villa Anna Maria which was our home from home for five weeks during our travels through the Balkans earlier this year. It’s fair to say that Anna wasn’t the only one who loved it, it made a lasting impression on all of us, for positive reasons, I’m pleased to say.

Our trip of the Balkans was originally due to take place a year before so we actually booked Villa Anna Maria way back in 2015. Unfortunately, only four days before we were due to set off on our travels last year, my father was diagnosed with brain metastatis and lung cancer and, so that I could be near him to look after him, we had to cancel at very short notice.

The owner, Omiros Chalkeidis, was incredibly understanding and very kindly allowed us to transfer our booking over for the future, even though we did not know when that would be. Despite it being a matter out of our hands, that his home was unexpectedly available for five weeks at the very last minute must have been inconvenient to him. Even though his reviews on AirBnB had stated that he was a ‘Superhost’, we were well aware that this was not something he had to do. We were thus reassured early on that we were dealing with a good host which is one of the deciding factors in making or breaking an entire trip.

Villa Anna Maria is situated on Kassandra, the first leg of the Halkidiki peninsula. Approximately 45 minutes away from Thessaloniki airport in the northern region of Greece, this area is a modern, thriving tourist hub packed with restaurants and nightlife.

We don’t usually stay in touristy areas, preferring to instead stay away from the crowds. However, we were arriving on Apri 1st and not leaving until the first week in May, which meant that we were lucky enough to avoid most of the tourist crowds. Unfortunately, this meant that much of Kriopigi was still closed. This wasn’t an issue for us, given that we had driven down to Greece anyway, but if you are relying on public transport or taxis it could be a little problematic and you may well feel cut off. Whilst there is lots to see in the Halkidiki area, you do need some kind of transport to get you there. There are several car hire places in the area so if you do decide to fly in this might be an option.

 

Villa Anna Maria front of house

 

Omiros had provided us with clear instructions on reaching the property but even so, we got into a little pickle near the end and weren’t quite sure where to go. Within a couple of minutes, Mr Christos, who was meeting us on Omiros’s behalf, came to meet us just around the corner and led the way to the house.

Villa Anna Maria is located at the end of a bumpy side road lined with a mixture of hotels and olive groves. I could imagine this area becoming quite crowded during the height of the tourist season but, for the moment at least, it was peaceful. Wooden gates open up onto the private driveway which sweeps its way around to the front of the house and gardens. You could see immediately upon arriving how well cared for the property was thanks to Mr Christos’s maintenance, convincingly earning it the title of ‘Luxurious Villa Anna Maria’.

The house is set upon 4000 square metres of land – plenty of space for the children to run around in. Unfortunately, the gardens were still nothing but mud and dirt, a result of the recent construction of the swimming pool which had only been completed the week before. It wasn’t a big problem for us – we could still make use of the gardens when the weather was dry and the house was large enough to comfortably relax in even when the weather wasn’t great. And besides, we now had a pool!

Mr Christos welcomed us warmly and showed us around the house, making us feel completely at home already. The fridge and cupboards were fabulously well stocked with absolutely anything you could need, from juice and milk (and wine!), to pasta, cereals, bread, butter, cheese, ham…. I could go on but there really was so much that we were so grateful for! Even though we had packed a supply of travel snacks and on-the-go foods for our journeys, arriving late on a Saturday meant that we could probably not do our first supermarket shop until the Monday, so not having to worry about getting shopping in straight away was such a help!

It’s worth mentioning that the local shops in Kriopigi definitely charge tourist prices. Products in the handful of shops there are terribly expensive and overpriced so, if possible, drive down to the Lidl just 15 minutes away in Athitos (or Afitos – it’s either/or as to what the village is named!).

 

Villa Anna Maria from drive side of pool

 

Given that we had originally booked the house without the pool, this was a lovely bonus for us especially as we had the honour – and the responsibility – of being the first guests that would use it! I have to say that I was a little apprehensive. My whole reason for choosing a property without a pool in the first place was because I was worried about being careful of so many young ones around it. The design of the pool area was such that we could sit comfortably keeping watch over it, whilst its boundaries clearly dictated the areas the children were and were not allowed to go.

 

Villa Anna Maria pool view

 

As the pool was so new it would be out of use for the first couple of weeks of our stay, due to the chlorine and chemicals within it needing to reach the right balance. This worked out fine as, despite the sunny blue skies, we had more than our fair share of rain, thunder and chilly days during our first two or three weeks there.

 

Villa Anna Maria boys playing chess at dining table

 

The villa was generously sized, even for our family! The kitchen, dining and living area was open plan, leading to two bedrooms and a bathroom.

 

Villa Anna Maria living area

 

Large, bullet-proof patio doors led out onto the lower balcony with steps going down into the garden and pool area. The pool was overlooked by two large palm trees that stood majestically above it. So beautiful!

 

IMG_4982

 

The view was incredible, allowing you to see the sea in the distance and the most splendid sunrises every morning…

 

Villa Anna Maria Sunrise

 

The balcony was a lovely place to take a cup of freshly made Greek coffee and wake up to the day…

 

IMG_5052

 

The villa is suitable for up to 12 guests in five bedrooms, with three of the further bedrooms located upstairs. The main bedroom was huge, running the entire width of the back of the house and looking out onto the pool and Aegean sea. It had the most comfortable bed in the world at one end…

 

Villa Anna Maria Bedroom 1 bed - Copy

 

…and a living area at the other end with a sofa that could also transform into an additional bed should you need it…

 

Villa Anna Maria Bedroom 1 living area

 

The floor to ceiling windows and doors fully allowed the natural daylight in. The doors led out to the upper balcony complete with furniture to sit on and enjoy the view, something Caitin decided to do despite the chill in the air…

 

villa anna maria cait on balcony

 

Oh yes, Cait. She wasn’t supposed to be coming with us on this trip due to work but, as she works in a school and as it was the Easter holidays she jumped on a plane to join us for a week.

Surprise!

 

halkidiki beach April 2017

 

All the bedrooms were comfortable, each with its own television as well as air conditioning and central heating, making this a great place to stay whatever time of year.

 

Villa Anna Maria Upstairs Bedroom 2

 

And yes, it does get cold in Greece, despite the scorching summers. Although I think Sid was quite restless this particular night…

 

villa anna maria sid sleeping

 

Mr Christos regularly came over to check and clean the pool, and he was a pleasure to get to know during our time there. Even so, we still had a little visitor come and stay in the pool for a while…

 

villa anna maria frog guest in pool

 

Thankfully we had Tim on standby running into the house to retrive his quickly thought-of frog-catching kit: a pair of toy pliers and a bucket.

 

villa anna maria tim frog catcher

 

The weather was quite inclement during the first weeks, so even when the pool was ready to use, it was still too chilly to get in and enjoy it. And so the children waited patiently…

 

villa anna maria kids waiting to swim

 

And they waited hopefully…

 

villa anna maria tim dressed for swimming

 

And frustratedly…

 

villa anna maria eddie waiting to swim

 

The villa had plenty to keep us occupied during the cold and rainy days, of which there were plenty during our stay. You could curl up with a book, of course…

 

villa anna maria sid and eddie reading sean conway books

 

Or you could make your way to the basement which was utilised as a magnificent playroom and packed with every toy and game imaginable…

 

Villa Anna Maria Playroom

 

Bright-but-still-not-quite-warm-enough-to-swim days were spent playing chess in front of views like this…

 

villa anna maria eddie and harry playing chess

 

Or going to the beach with views like this…

 

Halkidiki beach Kassandra

 

A word of advice, the beach a walk away from the villa is on a steep slope downwards. If you drive ten minutes along the peninsula it flattens out a great deal – much better! Searching for treasure in the sand never gets old…

 

Ollie finding shell on beach

 

And if you do get a little too warm, you can always let the sea breeze cool you down. Like this…

 

Halkidiki Kassandra Anna cooling on beach

 

Until…

 

villa anna maria joseph muscles

 

Time to swim! Which becomes super special when you’ve just swum your very first length all by yourself to the cheers of everyone!

Well done, Bel!

 

Bel in pool after swimming her first length alone - Copy

 

Or you know, you could just sunbathe, as my solar powered kids chose to do…

 

image1 (2)

 

 

And so it turned out that despite not wanting a pool, it was the best thing we could have had! The children practised their swimming, wore themselves out and went to bed leaving us to enjoy views like this…

 

villa anna maria dusk

 

Perfect!

We all thoroughly loved our stay at Luxurious Villa Anna Maria. The location is fine if you have transport but like I mentioned, you might feel a little cut off and restricted without it. It probably does get very busy during peak season but that’s Halkidiki for you – it’s a tourist area – so you should expect that in this region. During our stay from the start of April until the first week in May we witnessed the hard work and preparation that the locals go to in order to get the region tourist ready and it was great to watch the village and area in general come out of its hibernation. Even though the local shops were closed in Kriopigi, there was still plenty to see and do in the area with the pretty village of Athitos nearby a must-see if you visit. It also has restaurants and little souvenir shops open while Kriopigi’s are still closed.

Halkidiki is an area that offers a lot over the three legs. Don’t miss the cave church in particular (Eddie takes you on  a quick video tour of St Paul’s Cave Church here so you can prepare yourself), and we really recommend visiting the third leg and taking a boat trip to Mount Athos and Ammouliani Island with Eirinikos Glassbottom Cruises which was so fantastic!

The house itself was incredible and offered absolutely everything we needed and more. If we needed anything at all we were reassured that Mr Christos and Dr Chalkeidis were contactable at any time, but they really could not have made us feel any more welcome than they did. I can confidently state that I could recommend Villa Anna Maria and you would have the most perfect stay imaginable. We did, and we would definitely return!

Click here for more information or to book your stay at Luxurious Villa Anna Maria in Kriopigi, Halkidiki. I am sure you will love it as much as we did.

 

 

 

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