A perfect Corfu retreat at MarBella Nido

A perfect Corfu retreat at MarBella Nido
MarBella Nido scales a hillside, meaning every guest gets a prime view of the Ionian Sea

MarBella Nido is a slice of contemporary luxury, Corfu style, with a heady blend of great food and fabulous vistas from your own private nest at the top of a rugged wooded hillside overlooking the Ionian Sea

Words Libby Norman

MarBella Nido scales a hillside overlooking the blue of the Ionian Sea – a fair sharing out of perfect vistas for every single guest and an impressive first impression. While Corfu is a familiar Greek island for many, but it’s our first time and, as someone who grew up on My Family and Other Animals, I have a rosy fictional vision of crazy Brits and eccentric locals.

The island still celebrates its links with the Durrells, but they are a tiny literary footnote in a long history dating back to Homer’s Odyssey. It is believed that Corfu may even have been inspiration for the island setting of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The landscape is rugged and green and spells of Venetian rule have left it with some stunning architecture – Corfu Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A perfect Corfu retreat at MarBella Nido
Interiors are designed to let in the light and catch the breeze

Today Corfu has an increasingly modern-smart twist and MarBella Nido – our base at Agios Ioannis Peristeron on the south-east corner of the island – has earned plaudits galore since its opening in summer 2018. Strictly adults only, and with a combination of luxe suites and private villas ranged up a vertiginous hillside overlooking the Ionian Sea, it is celebrated for its food, for its views and for a cool Corfiot vibe blending island architectural heritage and cool styling. It sits adjacent to its sister property MarBella Corfu and the ‘Nido’ in its name comes from the Italian word to nest – perfect then for a lovers’ retreat.

A perfect Corfu retreat at MarBella Nido
The pool and bar half way up the hill are perfect for sundowners and lazy laps

Our first sight of the place is in blinding Greek sunshine and retreating to the Orangerie is a pleasant way to check in, cocktail in hand, and admire the artfully arranged objects, plants and botanic drawings. The reception space is built for the Mediterranean climate – lofty ceilings and giant picture windows to share that luscious view of the turquoise sea. There’s also a huge fireplace which, as we later discover, is lit at night so people can have a cosy nightcap – one of many lovely homely touches at MarBella Nido.

A perfect Corfu retreat at MarBella Nido
The huge fireplace, lit at night, is one of many cosy touches around the hotel

Our suite is right up at the top of the hill, so have bagged a stunningly beautiful vista. Our room is neutral and chic. The private terrace with plunge pool is a heavenly place to enjoy a morning coffee or sundowner (something that becomes a daily ritual). We love the quiet and sense of privacy of being in our hilltop fortress and quickly discover that we don’t need to tax our leg muscles as the fleet of golf buggies and super-cheerful staff will ferry us up and down whenever we choose.

“Our private terrace with plunge pool is a heavenly place to enjoy a morning coffee or sundowner”

A perfect Corfu retreat at MarBella Nido
Our room has a private terrace and plunge pool with stunning views

The pace of life here is very chilled, with poolside the main draw for many guests. There’s also a small but idyllically peaceful slice of private beach with loungers and towels for guests and even a bell for waiter service from the hotel, should we choose. There we while away happy afternoons snoozing and occasionally making our way into the sea to cool off. And, oh bliss, Akrogiali Taverna Κerkyra (signboard legend: established 1948) is on our beach, conveniently close to our loungers. The perfect Greek taverna, this becomes our go-to lunch spot. I dine on fish or choice mezes, while my partner tucks into lots of delicious lamb, local style.

A perfect Corfu retreat at MarBella Nido
Rooftop dining at Apaggio is a romantic option and with delicious Mediterranean food

While the delights of the beach and our own private pool and terrace keep us well occupied, we do check out the fabulous infinity pool for more active endeavours. It’s brilliantly designed and a real sun-trap during the day, with cool bar for drinks and poolside snacks. Early evenings become our favourite time for lazy laps with regular pauses to tread water and gaze down at the water below.

The rooftop Apaggio à la carte restaurant has the same peerless sea views and offers gourmet Greek and Italian flavours. There’s a big wellness focus here and there’s a spa on site, with treatment rooms offering Cinq Mondes serums and pampering oils – they even offer in-suite treatments. Guests can also access spa and fitness facilities at the sister hotel.

A perfect Corfu retreat at MarBella Nido
Breakfasts and dinners are relaxed affairs and we dine alfresco

“Delicious salads vie for attention with Med cuisine, grilled meats and fabulous local fish and seafood, all cooked perfectly”

Food is a real star at MarBella Nido – we had heard good things but reality exceeds them. Leisurely breakfasts are taken alfresco on the sunny terrace of San Giovanni Restaurant – delicious breads and pastries, eggs to order, local yogurt and honey, fresh fruits and lots of strong coffee. We favour the same spot for dinners buffet style; buffets are never easy for chefs  but the culinary team here are superb. Delicious salads (what I always feel like after a day at the beach) vie for attention with Med cuisine, grilled meats and fabulous local fish and seafood, all prepped perfectly. Desserts are something else; my salad health kick is diluted after I discover the corner manned by a lovely chef generous with his scoops of homemade ice-cream.

We love our hilltop retreat – perfect for down time

Every visit to Corfu should include at least one stop-off in Corfu Town (around 30-minutes by taxi). We wander around the jumble of narrow streets lined with curiosity and gift shops and admire the Venetian architecture that earned it UNESCO protection. It’s worth taking a trip uphill on foot or by bus to Mon Repos Palace – former home of British governors and birthplace of Prince Philip. It has stunning views over the Old Town and coast and lovely grounds. Near its entrance are the archaeological remains of what some believe was the very first settlement at Corfu Town. 

Watching the ocean is easy from our own private pool

While there is more than enough to see around Corfu island for adventurous souls, MarBella Nido is also top spot for anyone who just wants to shrug on the flip-flops and clamp on the shades. With delicious food and prime views over the Ionian Sea, it has more than got the measure of what people actually want from down time à deux – a very luxurious and tranquil place to nest.

MarBella Nido

The hotel is located in Agios Ioannis Peristeron, Corfu. For information about holidays here, visit marbellanido.gr


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