MarBella Hotel is making waves in Greece and beyond

PERCHED unobtrusively on the side of a cliff overlooking shimmering blue seas stands the MarBella Elix. Opened only last year, it is the latest addition to one of Greece’s oldest luxury hotel groups, quickly establishing a foothold in the post-lockdown holiday rush thanks in no small measure to its location in an out-of-the-way but unspoilt corner of northwest Greece, a place where pine-draped mountains meet the Ionian Sea and its picture postcard beaches.  

AerialAerial view of MarBella Elix

To this must be added, the hotel’s striking good looks, announced by a vast glass-fronted atrium from where one can gaze out to sea and to the islands of Paxos and Corfu beyond, a mesmerising vista that can be experienced from all the rooms and suites. 

Here, stone and wood predominate alongside neutral colours and unfussy decor to create an elegant, almost minimalist space that does not attempt to upstage the surrounding natural beauty. In addition to large furnished balconies, many have private pools of varying sizes,  

Heinz Troll photoshooting May 2021

Heinz Troll photoshooting October 202Interior of MarBella Elix

The MarBella Elix is the third hotel in the MarBella Collection, a family-run company that started out in the late ‘60s, when mass tourism was beginning to take off in Greece – its insider knowledge and personal touch translate into a friendly service that tries to embrace all ages. 

There’s certainly a lot on offer, including a spa and gym, four restaurants and a range of excursions and activities, yoga and mountain hikes among them. The pool looked appealing but I headed for Karavostasi beach, which can be reached from the hotel by funicular. Cradled between two headlands, its pebbly sands are lapped by pristine waters that in early September were warm and inviting. After a fun though largely unsuccessful attempt at paddle boarding, I opted for kayaking, thoroughly enjoying  being out on the open sea. 

1. Signature Images

The following day, I ventured further afield, travelling by catamaran to the tiny island of Paxos. This is a must-do trip that enables you to view the island’s dramatic caves and vertical rock faces, swim in waters that go from aquamarine to turquoise, and enjoy time on Paxos itself, with its pretty pastel-coloured houses and laid back charm. 

Back at the hotel, I attended the fourth edition of its Greek Chefs Abroad event where top chefs Asimakis Chaniotis and Gikas Xenakis were cooking up an evening of fine dining. Among the 10 dishes was the weird and wonderful “Ionian Sea” – marinated mackerel set in a “sea” of startlingly blue salted jelly. 

5. One of caves aroundPaxos island

Next stop, via ferry was Corfu, the largest island in the Ionian archipelago, where I stayed at a sister hotel, the adults-only MarBella Nido. Painted in earthy colours and arranged along winding tiers overlooking the sea, it is a nod to a traditional local village and had a sedate air to match. The lobby was all space and simplicity, enhanced by a series of outsized picture windows framing the views. 

1.Signature ImagesMarBella Nido

“Nido” means  nest and it seemed like a perfect retreat for those wishing to get away from it all. My suite had a balcony with private pool, others had a hot tub. For a bigger splash there is the choice of a swimming pool or the beach across the road. There are restaurants galore, three here and several at the much larger, family- focussed MarBella Corfu just next door, the company’s inaugural hotel. Each offers a varied cuisine and a chance to sample some fine Greek wines, particularly the Malagousia whites, little known in the UK but regarded as rising stars in the wine world. 

8.. Corfu Old Town, now a Unesco World Heritage site copyCorfu Old Town

MarBella translates as “beautiful sea” in Italian. Why Italian? It’s all down to the Venetians, who ruled the island for four centuries from mediaeval times, so preventing the Ottomans from further advancing their occupation of Greece. Their legacy is most apparent in Corfu Old Town, where a charming jumble of lanes and Venetian architecture, mixed in with later French and British influences, has won it Unesco world heritage status. My visit was compliments of a guided hotel tour and during the 25 minute drive back down a long and winding road, the beautiful sea was very much in evidence. 

by Angela Cobbinah

Get ready for next year with Olympic Holidays: Ten night Island hopping holiday from £1,399pp based on two people travelling, in a package that includes five nights each at MarBella Nido (B&B), and MarBella Elix (half board), return flights from London Gatwick and all connecting transfers. Departures available on May 12

Save 32% on a seven night holiday at the MarBella Nido  from £749 per person, based on two people travelling. The package includes B&B in a Junior Suite Sea View with flights from London Luton. Departures available on April 17

Save 28% on a seven night stay at MarBella Elix, half board, from £519pp based on 2 people travelling. The package includes flights from London Gatwick airport. Available on April 16

For bookings call 0208 492 6868 or visit