Corfu is probably not how you would imagine it to be. This little Greek island gets a bad rep. It’s still associated with wild parties and well, not much else. This works in your favour though, as it means you get to enjoy what feels like a hidden secret…for a really good price.
I recently teamed up with icelolly.com to experience quite the opposite of wild parties…a family holiday in Corfu. They specialise in package breaks, so they take care of everything from flights and transfers to accommodation and food. You simply rock up and have a great time, which is perfect for busy families like us.
Corfu, specifically Marbella Corfu Hotel, is all about affordable luxury. You really can enjoy 5* luxury for very little effort.
A Stylish Stay
Marbella Corfu Hotel is classy and chic from the moment you enter the lobby. White arches frame the sea view and simple, stylish accessories bring a contemporary feel to the place.
This resort is cleverly spread out, so unless you’re visiting when it’s fully booked you feel like you’ve got it all to yourself. The only time that we realised how many other people were actually staying in the hotel was during dinner. If we didn’t visit the restaurant we’d have never known!
The place is a bit of a maze, with rooms split out over five levels, in various wings of the property. We were allocated a garden suite (room 120) on the first floor, which was a two minute walk to the children’s pool and also looked out onto the sea.
It’s a great set-up for young families like ours, as we had an adjoining living room that led out onto a private patio. This meant that when Nova went to sleep at 8pm or so, we didn’t have to go to bed as well. We could stay up in one of the other rooms having a drink and a catching up. It also meant that we didn’t go stir crazy from being confined to just four walls!
The suite has a kettle and coffee supplies, which as any parent will know, is a big life saver. We enjoyed far too many 5am starts for our liking so the coffee was much appreciated, though I guess we should thank Nova for the beautiful sunrises we got to enjoy from our patio. We could even see them from the comfort of our bed if we drew back the black out curtains. The pics below haven’t been filtered so that you can see just how beautiful it really was.
As much as the set-up works for families (and I’m sure couples/friends etc too), the design of the suite is exactly what I like; modern, stylish and simple. There are no garish colours or motifs and it’s not stuck in some outdated time warp.
All the Food
We stayed on a half board basis, which meant that we could enjoy breakfast and dinner as part of our package (though you can swap dinner for lunch if you fancy it during the stay). The only things that were not included were drinks (except at breakfast) and lunch – if you want those things you could go for the all-inclusive option. As we were looking after Nova the drinks would have been wasted on us and lunch was no big deal as we stocked up during the other meals.
As snobby as it probably sounds, I’m always a bit wary about a buffet, so I was a bit worried about what our food options would be like and had prepared myself for skipping the hotel food and seeking out options elsewhere. More fool me.
Breakfast was a full on affair every single morning, with unlimited options. We enjoyed thick, velvety Greek yoghurt, cooked breakfasts, fresh pastries, waffles smothered in chocolate sauce, super sweet American pancakes…the list goes on. If you could dream it up it’d probably be there. One day there was even smoked salmon and champagne. Most mornings, especially near the start of our stay when everything was new and exciting, we enjoyed at least three courses each. Now you know why we weren’t bothered by lunch!
Dinner was equally as indulging in the main restaurant. We ate a bit of everything and often more. Each day there would be two fresh soups to choose from, as well as salads of every colour and taste, artisan breads, and of course, what felt like a million different hot dishes. Some nights it would be a theme night, such as Italian, but if you’d never read the sign you probably wouldn’t be any wiser. We certainly weren’t.
The dessert section was my favourite, with the baklava and ganache slices winning my vote every time. I hate to think how many calories I ate in one evening, let alone across the week. I really should learn more self-control, but it’s just too hard when everything looks so tasty.
Marbella Corfu Hotel has other restaurants too. There’s a Greek one, an Italian, a TexMex and more. As a half-board guest we were invited to try one of them out for one evening and could book any of the others for a fee. As the main restaurant had so many dishes to choose from though we didn’t really feel the need to try them all, but we went to the Greek one for our last night. It was the perfect end to our week and definitely a step up from the main restaurant. I’d wholeheartedly recommend eating at that one.
We were told it was fully booked, but we turned up and asked nicely for a table and got one. It’s worth asking if you miss out on snagging a reservation early in the week.
In and Around the Hotel
The hotel has a beautiful infinity pool, a children’s pool and more. It’s situated right on the coast and has its own private beach, with decked area so whether you’re a pool person or a beach babe, you’re covered. There are loungers and deck chairs, as well as well-stocked bars at what feels like every corner. There are also lots of terraces to chill out on, offering lovely views of the colour-changing sea. You could easily sip a cocktail or two, getting lost in the mesmerising pools of turquoise, royal blue and clear waters.
The beach isn’t huge or sandy, so be prepared for the pebbles and how narrow it is. As it’s a small one though it’s really, really relaxing. You could easily spend the day snoozing on a lounger listening to the gentle waves lapping at the edge. If you’re more into adventure you could try your luck at paddle boarding or sea kayaking, or for something a little calmer you could enjoy darts or boules with the entertainment crew.
Apart from a few tavernas there’s not too much on your doorstep at this hotel. It’s more about relaxing in the resort. If you do feel the need to escape you can enjoy some of the free activities like trekking, aerial yoga or a sunset tour on a boat. A local bus service also runs throughout the day and can take you into Corfu town in about 30 minutes, for less than two Euros. There’s also a really pretty hike to a nearby village that’s worth a go, but more on these things in another post.
The lusciously green island of Corfu is just a short flight away from the UK (2hours and 50minutes with easyJet) and flights depart regional airports like London Luton, which is extremely convenient for people like me. Luton is only a 40minute drive away, which sure beats trekking to London Gatwick!
Once you land in Corfu it’s an easy 40minute transfer along the coast to head to Marbella Corfu Hotel.
Pearls of Wisdom
We had a great week, as I’m sure you would. My top tips for staying at Marbella Corfu Hotel are:
- Eat as soon as the restaurants open (6.30pm for dinner in the main one) if you don’t want to queue. The longest queue we ever saw was four couples, but other reviews suggest in peak time it might be much more.
- If you want to eat in one of the speciality restaurants or to do one of the free tours/activities make your booking as soon as you check-in. I missed out on aerial yoga because we waited until our second day and then it was fully booked.
- If you’re not staying on an all-inclusive basis be prepared to pay a lot for drinks. Two soft drinks will set you back about six Euros, as will a bottle of water. You’re better off going to the shop next door where you can pick a big bottle of water up for just 0.50 Euros.
Specifically if you’re travelling with little ones:
- If you’re also travelling with a baby, especially one who loves the water as much as Nova does, it’s probably worth paying a little bit extra to have a room with its own splash pool. You’ll know as well as me that it can take forever to get out of the door with a little one, so save yourself the hassle by bringing the pool to your room!
- You don’t need to bring one of those black out blinds. The curtains are really thick and keep the light out.
- The travel cots look pretty good. We used our own one (the Nuna SENA) as per usual, but they’d set one up in the room and it looked sturdy and of good quality.
- Early is May is a good time of year to visit Corfu, as the temperature isn’t too hot – around the 20 degree mark when we visited. The pools aren’t heated (well the big pool is, but not by much) so bring a wetsuit to keep your baby warm in the water.
- Don’t worry about eating out with your little one. We often found there were a few other babies in the restaurant and most of the other guests cooed over them, keeping them entertained! However, if you’d rather not you can get room service (chargeable) or there is a creche facility for children aged four months and older.
All in all we had an effortlessly easy, relaxing week in the sunshine. I’d probably say the hotel is more a 4* than 5*, but nothing to complain about at all. In fact, quite the opposite! You have everything you need to make it a super chilled out one or a busy week of adventure and culture.
Pin for later…
What do you think of our stay? Is it somewhere that you’d consider? X
Big thanks to icelolly.com for hosting our trip.
Look out for more pics of the hotel and our trip in my next post!