Our roving, six-month-pregnant reporter, make-up artist Elizabeth Hudson, trialled the Skiathos Princess Hotel to find out how it suited her bump [and, for the future, her growing family]
Skiathos - small and perfectly formed
A small island off the North-East coast of Greece, what Skiathos lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in charm and Greek authenticity. Skiathos Town is located at one end, with a single main road that runs along the length of the island to Koukounaris Beach at the other end. It is incredibly easy to get your barings here. And easy to get around, with a choice of either one of the 18 taxis covering the island or the bus constantly ferrying tourists and locals from one end to the other, you'll not be kept waiting for long. Arriving at Skiathos airport, on a runway described as 'short as it is narrow', we collected our bags and were met by a representative from Classic Collection Holidays, who called one of the 18 taxis to transfer us to our hotel.
First stop - checking out the hotel's beach!
The view from our room
The first thing we noticed on entering the Skiathos Princess Hotel was the delicious scent of orange blossom, and that we felt instantly relaxed. The incredibly friendly staff on reception greeted us with beaming smiles and once they'd checked us in, were eager to show us to our room. Located on the first floor, our room was very spacious with a balcony and beautiful views of the pool, beach and sea beyond. We quickly learned that Pierce Brosnan had stayed in the room three doors down from ours when filming Mamma Mia! on the neighbouring Island of Skopelos.
The kids' pool (closest) and main pool area
After a small amount of unpacking and changing out of our travel clothes into more holiday appropriate attire, we went to explore our hotel and its surroundings. The grounds are flat and spacious, with plenty of grassy areas, so perfect for kids to run around safely in. The beach is located directly in front of the hotel, just a short walk from the pool, with soft sand that would be ideal for sand castle building and crystal clear water so inviting we could barely resist a swim there and then.
The hotel's beach
Mesostrato Taverna - a 'must try'
Directly outside of the hotel, there's a supermarket open until late that stocks everything from colourful inflatables and souvenirs to fresh pastries and toiletries. We also discovered a multitude of traditional-looking tavernas with delicious sounding menus and friendly hosts at the door, all keen for us to take a seat in their establishments. We eventually chose Mesostrato Taverna, where the young waitress was very proud to tell us her parents were the chefs. We both opted for Pork Souvlaki, a traditional Greek dish of skewered pork cooked in herbs and spices served with pitta bread and tzatziki.
The most delicious tzatziki
As both of us are keen "foodies", we enjoyed making our way through the traditional Greek dishes from the various tavernas that we ate in during our week on the island. A few of our favourites were newly refurbished Kipos, another taverna close to the Skiathos Princess Hotel, where we tried feta cheese baked in filo pastry and honey. As a treat we made our way, by taxi, to the Panorama Pizza Restaurant, (pictured below), a popular taverna positioned at one of the highest points on the island where the view is as amazing as the pizzas it serves.
Panorama Pizza restaurant, Skiathos
Our favourite eatery in Skiathos Town was the Ergon Greek Deli, which drew us in with its array of fresh and packaged produce on display. The server was quick to offer us a sample of Halva cake (made of sesame and sugar with different flavourings and fillings), that was so delicious we sat down for a full size portion and booked to return for dinner the following evening. Our evening meal was just as good as the cake, we chose eggplant purée and humous with bread, and Gyros (slow cooked pork belly in pitta wraps).
There were plenty of things to do and see during our stay, and considering I was six months pregnant at the time of our visit, we weren't limited by choices. As well as enjoying plenty of lounging by the pool or on the beach, we also had the convenience of the bus stopping right outside the hotel (stop 16), which took us to Koukounaris beach or Skiathos Town within 15-20 minutes. Koukounaris beach is considered a popular tourist spot, as is Banana beach just a short walk away (although over quite a steep hill), with a naturist section for the daring.
Skiathos Town has two ports (one old, one new) and a wide variety of shops and restaurants to suit all needs and tastebuds. Set among a maze of quaint and picturesque streets that are mainly pedestrianised, we enjoyed exploring most of them in a day, stopping off to pick up Baklava (filo pastry layered with honey and chopped nuts) from a traditional Greek bakery or saying hello to one of the many stray cats.
On the famous 'Does your mother know?' beach
As previously mentioned Mamma Mia was filmed on the nearby island of Skopelos, with a few scenes even being filmed on Skiathos itself. Well this has not gone unnoticed by the locals who have taken advantage of this fact and based various tours around the film. We went on a boat tour to Skopelos that included stop offs to various places where scenes were filmed, all the while listening to, and sometimes dancing to, the soundtrack of the film.
Our most enjoyable activity has to be our visit to the open air cinema to view the film itself. As well as other popular films, the cinema screens Mamma Mia 3 times a week, proving its popularity. It was fantastic, with an old-school feel, fresh popcorn, and even live action performances by the staff that synced with the scenes.
Skiathos Town Harbour
Having stayed here expecting my first child I can honestly say I would return with my family in tow. The Skiathos Princess Hotel has an impressive kids club, with plenty of activities for indoors and outdoors. It felt safe and very family friendly. There were many young families staying there that, in a pleasant way, were seen but not heard, creating a very calm atmosphere for those with and without kids.
We visited the spa for a relaxing and invigorating massage and facial, but there are also many watersports on offer by the beach for the more adventurous visitors. Our stay was bed and breakfast based, and this suited us fine as it meant that we could explore more of the surrounding area and island by visiting the tavernas. They were all reasonably priced and produced some of the best food we've eaten on our holidays, which, let's face it, is one of the main things we want - especially when pregnant!
The kids' facilities are brilliant at the Skiathos Princess hotel! Something to remember for the next visit...
Classic Collection Holidays ( 0800 294 9323; classic-collection.co.uk) offers 7 nights at Skiathos Princess from a total of £4627 for a family of four. Price based on 2 adults and 2 children sharing a family room garden view on a bed & breakfast basis and includes return flights from London Gatwick ( other UK departure airports available) and private transfers. Departs 28 May 2017.
Classic Collection Holidaysalso offers 7 nights at Skiathos Princess for two adults from £999 per person. Price based on 2 adults sharing a club double room on a bed & breakfast basis and includes return flights and private transfers. Departs 18 May 2017.
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