If youre planning to dip your toes into the balmy seas of the Aegean this Summer and are deciding which Greek island to kick back on, put the spindly peninsulas of Halkidiki on your map. Jutting out from the mainland, south of the buzzing port city of Thessaloniki, Halkidikis three peninsulas each offer a unique experience and feel like islands in their own right. Kassandra is where to go for convenient resorts, Sithonia has a mix of busy harbours, traditional villages and remote beaches, and finally Mount Athos is for those looking for isolated bliss. Here are my top five luxury places to stay to experience all Halkidiki has to offer: The Excelsior, Thessaloniki If you feel like taking in the heart of the region before kicking back by a beach, this is your best bet when it comes to boutique luxury in the city centre. Close enough to stroll to Thessalonikis shopping district and harbour walls, it is very easy to meander through a few days here. Although there is no spa or pool at the hotel, the building itself is beautiful – think restored 1920s splendour. There are also lots of touches to make your stay relaxing despite the buzzing location – a rooftop garden, lounge, library, cocktail bar, marble bathrooms and juliet balconies in every room. Sani Resort, Kassandra This is the big resort of the region and where to head if you want all-inclusive luxury. The resort is made up of four different components so you can choose between luxury villas, family friendly resort, boutique hotel or spa hotel. New for 2015 includes more outdoor adventures in the surrounding sea and forests, Greeces only Caviar restaurant, art classes, a new wing of family suites and heated outdoor pools throughout the resort. Danai Beach Resort, Sithonia Palatial elegance from start to finish, Danai Beach Resort, tucked away in its own little pocket of golden beach and pine forest on Sithonia, is a haven of old school luxury. Family-collected art, marble bathrooms, teak drinks cabinets, white wrought iron outdoor furniture and live piano music over breakfast are just a few touches to make staying here reminiscent of a begone era. Service is impeccable and with four restaurants, beach and poolside bars, room service and beach pavilions with double sunbeds and private bars, it is hard not to completely indulge. Ekies All Senses, Sithonia A pocket of boutique-cool with eco overtones, Ekies is where to head for vibrant interiors and a laid back vibe. The hotel is by far the hippest patch fringing the calm waters of Vourourou Bay, a sheltered beach where local tavernas share the sunset and you can stroll out into the water for over 50m whilst fish dart between your toes. The beach bar and restaurant are reminiscent of Greeces party islands with ballearic beats, comprehensive cocktail lists and good looking staff. For a small hotel, facilities are plentiful with a large pool, outdoor gym, spa studio, pool table, playground and TV lounge. Skites, Ouranoupolis The most remote of the lot is the small hotel of Skites in the shadow of Mount Athos, one of Greeces most mystical mountains – still deemed too sacred for the presence of women and children. This is where you come to completely switch off. Think simple rooms, sea breezes, sunsets and homemade Greek feasts. The hotel is set in pretty gardens and is across a dirt track from a pebble beach, where the water is as clear as can be and sunsets are contemplative. Dont expect full facilities and luxury touches here – this is a place for soul seeking.
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