Situated towards the northern tip of Zakynthos in the Ionian islands – an hour's drive yet a world away from the rowdy resorts in the south – Anna's House sits in a hilltop grove of ancient, twisted olive trees. This lofty position affords far-reaching views down the coast and across to the mainland beyond. In the foreground, a garden of fragrant shrubs tumbles down from the terrace to a large, private pool. Turtle doves purr from secret perches, adding to the sense of sleepy seclusion. With the summer sunshine beating down, it's peaceful, enchanting and utterly relaxing.
When activity does beckon, Anna's House is one of a sizeable collection of villas attached to the British-owned Peligoni Club, an upmarket and laidback seafront complex with sailing, windsurfing, tennis, spa and a very good brasserie-style restaurant and bar. The union results in a traditional villa holiday with the refreshing option of adding resort-style extras.
Although it looks to have been part of the landscape for centuries, the house only dates from the late 1990s. Inside the single-story, tiled-roof structure, whitewashed walls and antiqued doors and rafters add to the illusion of age. The large open-plan living space – incorporating country-style kitchen and comfortable seating area – is decorated in a rustic-chic style, mixing local farmhouse artefacts with paintings, furnishings and embroidered fabrics collected on the owner's global travels.
There are three en-suite bedrooms in the main house, all of which have direct access to the garden terrace. A fourth bedroom occupies the separate, original olive-grower's cottage adjacent to the front door.
Outside, the covered terrace runs the length of the house and offers daybeds and seating for dining al fresco. This leads on to another, open terrace and on through the gardens to the pool beyond. Whether you prefer baking suntraps, or the welcome shade of an olive tree or poolside pergola, the two-acre plot feels endlessly spacious, even when the house is fully occupied.
Out and About
The Peligoni Club (020-8740 3001; peligoni.com) provides a sociable hub when you feel like a change from the privacy of the villa. Less than a 10-minute drive away, it's an exclusive and well-designed waterfront enclave with more than a hint of a beach bar on Ibiza. Membership (from £60pp per week) includes access to the outdoor gym, swimming pool, sun loungers, tennis court and all non-motorised watersports (with tuition). Choose from sailing, windsurfing, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, or upgrade to a package including waterskiing and wakeboarding.
Away from the water there are massages and beauty treatments at Peligoni's Goat Shed Spa, plus all manner of group excursions hosted by Sheila, the exuberant events manager. Popular options include boat trips to Shipwreck Cove (the island's signature sight) or a sunset stroll to an abandoned monastery. There are also activities specifically for children.
Elsewhere in the area, there are pleasant villages to explore, while at the other end of the island lie the shops and museums of Zakynthos Town. Don't miss the sandy beach at Gerakas, on the island's far south-eastern tip, where a ranger station provides information on the loggerhead sea turtles that nest there.
Food and Drink
Prior arrangements can be made for the villa to be stocked from an extensive grocery menu. Further supplies can be ordered for delivery from a supermarket in Katastari (details of this service are provided in the welcome pack); or top up yourself from the bakery and mini-market on nearby Agios Nikolaos' picturesque waterfront. Peligoni's excellent open-air restaurant serves burgers, salads, wood-fired pizzas and other familiar fare.
For something more authentic, the area has plenty of good family-run tavernas. Highly recommended is Kaminaki (00 30 269 503 1304), situated inland from Anna's House in the tiny hamlet of Ano Volimes. The ingredients are mostly organic and produced in the village and the charismatic owner, Dennis, turns a simple dinner into a memorable event. Or try Mikro Nisi (00 30 697 3050 680), just up the road from Peligoni, for superb seafood in an improbably pretty seaside setting.
Anna's House, Askos, Zakynthos, Greece (020-8740 3001; peligoni.com/accommodation/annas-house). A week's rental costs from £3,125, with membership to The Peligoni Club from £60pp. Sleeps eight.