M y friend Louise and I have been going on holiday together every year since we met at university. Finding the perfect travel-buddy is a bit like the fairytale of the Frog Princess; you have to endure a few short-haul trips arguing over whether to lay on the beach or visit famous monuments in the town centre before you find your One True Travelcub (at least, I think that's how the story goes). Just like living together, going on vacation with a friend really can make or break a friendship.
To avoid spending half the trip looking forward to going home because your companion is driving you crazy, it's a good idea to make sure you both have the same expectations before you book otherwise you might only realise after you touch down in your destination that one of you wants to chill while the other one wants to party.
I'm very lucky indeed to have a friend who's so in-sync with me when it comes to travel. We've been on more than a dozen holidays together and never fallen out. We like the same things (chilling on the beach with a book and a cocktail then having a couple of sightseeing days in the middle of the trip) and we share a similar sense of humour. It helps that we lived together for three years at university so we also know we're absolutely fine with each other's tidiness standards and annoying habits when we're sharing a room (Louise doesn't get annoyed when I'm listening to K-Pop while taking too long to get ready and I don't complain when she's a klutz and sits on the designer sunglasses).
Although we're usually vexingly indecisive when it comes to choosing our holiday destinations, as soon as Mykonos was suggested we agreed straight away! I'd never been before although the Greek island had been on my list for years. Arriving in June, the island was beginning to throng with the Euro Jet-set and tourists from the Americas; it was busy but not crazy-busy to the point that the port town's narrow, white-washed alleyways were too crowded. I think it was a perfect time to travel but if you want to party with the big crowds maybe wait a little later into July and August.
Myconian Utopia is a beautiful and stylish boutique designer hotel that sits high on the hillside of Elia Beach with views out across the bay. We thought we must have been at Mount Olympus, home of the Gods, when we arrived as not only was the road up to the hotel nail-bitingly steep, but the staff glided around us like Goddesses who'd come to life from marble; "Welcome to Utopia" was how they each greeted us as we were guided around the hotel spa with a glass of champagne and a cool towel. A lovely touch!
We'd chosen the hotel based on its style and design but even though I knew what to expect from the hotel's pictures, I was stunned by the vista from our terrace and private pool that looked out over Elia Beach way down below. If you're staying in a room without its own pool you won't be disappointed as the large infinity pool and terrace share the same panoramic view of Elia.
Making your way down the very steep hill to the beach might be tricky if you're carrying lots of bags or if you struggle with walking so we made sure to do this in our sneakers and change into flip-flops when we reached the beach. Part of Elia Beach is reserved for guests of Utopia which is lucky as the area is very popular and was already getting crowded by late morning when we arrived. On the days we went down to the beach we absolutely earned our Aperol spritz by walking all the way back up to the hotel on-foot; it was the only exercise we did during our trip! (...but if you feel like cheating there's an elevator that will take you up the second half of the hike - just go into the Myconian Imperial, Utopia's sister hotel, and find the lifts in the lobby).
I've never been regimented enough to completely maintain my gym and diet routine when I'm traveling (apart from one time in Marbella when I thought I'd be able to party hard whilst keeping up a zero-carb diet which resulted in me basically collapsing at Nikki Beach when my blood sugar crashed during an Amazing Sunday party) and I can't help but indulge in a little of what I fancy, especially when I've been so strict with my diet leading up to a trip, but when you're on an island full of body-beautiful boys and designer jet-set divas, it's good to stay somewhat on the straight and narrow. With this in mind, I was more than happy with the smorgasbord breakfast the hotel prepared each morning in the restaurant - lots of super-healthy options all set against that beautiful view of Elia again. The dinner menu in the hotel restaurant is also fantastic and we enjoyed our tastiest meal of the trip here in the hotel.
We didn't get a chance to try the indoor spa pools as the weather was so beautiful every day we didn't want to come inside. I'll just have to go back again for another visit. I know Cooper would love to join me next time!
If you're balling then why not charter a helicopter trip from the hotel's helipad across to Santorini for the day. You only live once, so why not live well!
Beautiful hotel, beautiful location, beautiful staff. Thanks, Utopia!