Advertisement

Kenshō Ornos: chilled-out luxury for late-summer sun in Mykonos

 (Kenshō Ornos)
(Kenshō Ornos)

I once carted the family off to a Greek island for a late summer break towards the end of August. One morning as we ate breakfast on the terrace the owner of the hotel sniffed the air and rather portentously declared: “I smell Autumn.”

Well in Mykonos in September you can not only smell it you can feel it slap you in the face too. The famous Meltemi breeze whipped across the island almost without a break during a post summer flit to the most famous of the Cyclades.

On the plus side, the Aegean sun, still pretty strong in September, never becomes too intimidating as the fanning effect of the wind acts as natural air con. On the downside eating outside becomes a bit of a chore as menus, napkins and the occasional salad leaf scurry across the table.

We were staying at one of the island’s new breed of five star contemporary boutique hotels, the Kenshō Ornos perched above Ornos beach a few miles outside Mykonos Town itself. Celebrity guests seeking R&R seclusion there have apparently included TV presenter reality TV stars Vicky Pattison and Millie Mackintosh, Coronation street actor Helen Flanagan and singer Lindsay Lohan.

 (Kenshō Ornos)
(Kenshō Ornos)

The 25 room, 10 suite hotel is hunkered on a hillside, cleverly designed around a delightful 80 sq metre mint tea coloured pool surrounded by olive trees, wooden decking and some of the most comfortable loungers it has ever been my good fortune, to, well, lounge on.

There are glass screens to keep out the worst of the gusts, but even so the terrace above the pool with the best views of the bay was closed on two days during our stay because of the strength of the breeze. It is no surprise that the Kenshō shuts down for the winter close season as early as October.

The hotel, which opened in 2016 and was named the best new boutique hotel in the world the following year, has always prided itself on its contemporary pared-down design, a chilled out antidote to Mykonos’s thumping superclub reputation as the Ibiza of the eastern Mediterranean.

 (Kenshō Ornos)
(Kenshō Ornos)

The colour palette is a riot, if you can have such a thing, of tasteful taupes, mushrooms and beige, down to the staff’s baggy linen uniforms, as well as more traditionally Cycladic whitewashed walls. It had a bit of a peak-Noughties feel about it and at times I was crying out for a blast of colour amid all that blonde wood and grey stone. Where there was a flash of something more eye-catching, such as the burnished copper light fittings and Tom Dixon designed candle holders it something of an aesthetic relief. Nevertheless the overall effect is calming.

The emphasis is very much on local natural materials such as the bar stools fashioned from tree trunks. And just to rub it in its sustainable credentials the hotel boasts that seven trees are planted for every one used.

Each room has its own plunge pool or hot tub on its terrace. Kenshō, it seems, is a Japanese word describing a state of enlightenment or self insight. You certainly get a bit of that at the start of the day lying in your personal jacuzzi in the Aegean sun sipping a morning espresso. So very different to the usual 5am scramble.

 (Kenshō Ornos)
(Kenshō Ornos)

The hotel boasts the only rock cave spa in Mykonos, a grotto with craggy boulder walls where you can lie in a massage chair that vibrates in time to music. It has two treatment rooms, a steam bath room, an indoor jacuzzi, a hair and beauty salon and tropical rain beds — an enervating experience that had a bit of fishmonger’s slab feel about it, though not, I have to say, in a bad way.

Executive chef Ippokratis Anagnostelis lifts the ‘Greek with an Asian twist’ cooking to a serious eating level of ambitious gastronomy delivered from open kitchens. I knew we were in for something pretty special as soon as their take on that old Greek greatest hits favourite taramasalata turned up. Rather than the familiar tub of pink gloop with celery this was ‘smoked tara cream’ with tomato confit, koulouri bun bread with sesame. There is a light touch to the cooking, with the fusion influences kept subtle, as in the sauteed calamari that came with a yuzu dressing.

 (Kenshō Ornos)
(Kenshō Ornos)

The 160 Euro Degustation Gastro menu is a long journey that gets off to a storming start with a intensely flavoured ‘tomato ball’ — described as a “dehydrated santornini cherry tomato, herbs and sun dried tomato emulsion” and ends some 10 courses later with olive oil chocolate.

As with all the best hotels, it is the staff that really make them, and the Kenshō team were well drilled, friendly, knowledgeable and in one case, enjoyably eccentric, without ever crossing that line into intrusive. Best of all, they knew exactly where the most sheltered spots were to keep out of that darned wind.

Rooms start from £220.33 per night with breakfast included with a 15% early booking discount up to March 31. The season is from 01 May to 20 Oct. kenshomykonos.com