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You can see Irene’s Villas from Nimborio beach — it’s the long row of white apartments on the hill, just above the red-roofed buildings beside the seashore. I shot this image just as rain began falling (one of several light showers during our second day on Andros.) When it’s sunny, the beach and hillsides look beautiful.
This screenshot shows one of the photos that appears on the home page for the Irene’s Villas website. The bungalow at left is the one we stayed in.
The property: Irene’s Villas consists of a dozen individual bungalows situated on a hilltop above Nimborio beach, less than 1 km from the heart of Andros Town (that’s the distance mentioned on the villa website, but we didn’t think it felt that far away).
Most are 1-room studios that can accommodate 3 persons (with a double bed plus a sofa that folds into a sleeper), but there also are several 2-room villas that can sleep up to 6. All are fully equipped with kitchenettes, TV, wi-fi and air conditioning. The property has ample parking, and the online booking confirmation said pets are allowed. All villas have verandas and terraces that offer sea views, though some have much more impressive sightlines than ours did. (We couldn’t see part of Andros Town, like some of the other villa guests could, but we did have views of the sea and harbour at Nimborio beach, as well as the nearby mountainside.) A photo gallery on the Irene’s Villas website contains numerous images that accurately show what the grounds and the interiors of some units look like, as well as the views from several terraces.
The website pictures suggested the villa grounds were a hilltop oasis lush with trees, bushes and flowering plants, and that — along with the views and location — were key factors in our decision to stay here.
This screenshot from the Irene’s Villas website shows the azalea- and shrub-lined walkway that leads to the various apartments.
Booking: The Irene’s Villas website has an online booking page as well as a reservation contact form that can be submitted to inquire about availability and rates. I reserved through the online booking link and received a confirmation email soon afterward. No advance payment was required. Text messages I sent prior to our arrival, seeking driving directions and other information, were answered immediately.
Getting there: Andros was our first destination after our overnight flight to Greece from Canada. Since we arrived at Athens too late to catch the early-morning ferry to Andros, we had to wait for the 5:30 p.m. sailing of the Theologos P ferry. We spent the morning in Athens with our friends, then drove with them to Rafina port where we had a leisurely lunch in a seaside fish taverna before boarding the ferry. We arrived at Andros around 7:45 p.m., and got glimpses of a sensational sunset while driving from the port at Gavrio to Andros Town, reaching the town after dark around 9 p.m..
I circled Irene’s Villas on this photo I shot from a hilltop north of Andros Town. It shows the villas’ location above Nimborio beach, about a 20-minute walk from the town’s main street.
The location: Once we found the route to Nimborio beach from the main highway to Andros Town, it was just a couple of minutes before we spotted the Irene’s Villas sign at a driveway entrance directly across the street from the Nimborio boardwalk. As we turned into the driveway, we were surprised by what lay ahead — a narrow paved road that curved up a long and very steep hill. We knew the villas were situated on a hill, but we had not expected such a steep and long incline. The road leads to a large gravel parking lot situated in between the house where the owners of Irene’s Villas live, and the group of studios. The owner (I think his name is Giannis) came out to greet us and show us to our studio. As we headed to our apartment, our friends drove off to check in to their room at the Anemomiloi.
We had a few minutes to freshen up in our room before walking down to a minimarket on the beach road to pick up food for breakfast; Giannis had told us to hurry because it was almost closing time for the store. Walking down the driveway wasn’t so bad, but the rigorous cardio and leg workout on the return uphill walk left us huffing and puffing — another surprise, since we’re both in good physical shape. We had a few minutes to unpack before making a second trek down the steep hill to join our friends for a late dinner at the nearby Archipelagos restaurant. The walk back to our villa felt particularly arduous after dinner, since by this point we were completely exhausted from jet lag and from having been awake for such a long travel time. Happily, the bed was comfortable and we got a very good night’s sleep.
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Inside our studio: Our studio, Number 5, was compact but comfortable and cozy. It had a kitchenette with dishes, cooking utensils, cutlery and an automatic drip coffee maker (which we were delighted to see, and which we used many times). Furnishings included a double bed, sofa bed, dining table and chairs, TV, clothing storage cabinet, plus a small washroom with ample sink counter space and a stand-up shower next to the toilet. There was no shower curtain so, despite our best efforts, the entire bathroom floor got soaked with water whenever we took showers– a situation common with the WCs in many Greek island hotels we have stayed at. Fluffy big white bath towels and hand towels were provided, along with small soaps. The studio had free wi-fi but the service often wasn’t working or gave us only intermittent connections. Giannis said there were some problems with the system on one day that we couldn’t get online for several hours. Housekeeping staff cleaned the studio and changed the towels daily.
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Our verandas: Terraces wrapped around three sides of our apartment. Out front was a long, narrow veranda with a table and two chairs. On the right side was a terrace with one chaise longue, while on the left side — just off the kitchenette — was a second terrace with a table, chair and large umbrella. We had breakfast on the veranda each morning but did not get a chance to use the other two terraces at all. As many as three cats occasionally sauntered onto the veranda but didn’t bother us — they spent most of their time sleeping on the side terrace.
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Our views: Though there were trees in front of our veranda, we still had reasonably good views of the sea, parts of Nimborio bay, and the nearby mountainside. While the views were decent, even during the occasional cloudy or rainy periods, we loved being surrounded by so much greenery — the trees, shrubs and flowers created a pleasant garden setting which was calm and relaxing, just as the website photos suggested. After waking up in the morning, and after returning from sightseeing in late afternoon and early evening, we found it was a nice treat to unwind on the veranda with a cup of coffee.
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What’s nearby: Since we were visiting in low season, we knew that many restaurants and shops on the island would not yet be open for the summer, but that we’d still have plenty of choices for places to eat and look around. A couple of cafe-bars were open at Nimborio beach, including Swell Bar near the Irene’s Villas driveway entrance, while Archipelagos and two other restaurants were open a short walk away on the road to Andros Town. Two minimarkets also were open on the beach road, so we didn’t have to travel far to pick up food and beverages for breakfast and snacks. There was a small but good variety of places to eat, drink and shop in Andros Town, the main street of which was only a 20-minute walk from the villas. (That’s roughly how long it took us to walk between our studio and the town center, including stops for photo taking.)
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What we liked: Best features of Irene’s Villas, for us, were the soothing peace and quiet and the verdant grounds (it felt like we were on holiday at a hilltop hideaway), the nice views, the front veranda, and the coffee maker (that handy appliance is a huge deal for someone, like me, who just can’t get going in the morning without a cup of coffee).
What we didn’t like: The intermittent wi-fi service was a minor inconvenience, but we only needed occasional access to check email and weren’t upset about the poor connections. We hated the water mess from the shower, but that, too, was a fairly minor hassle. The biggest drawback to the villas was that long steep access road. For visitors travelling with a vehicle, the driveway is not an issue. But for travellers like us who aren’t driving, the uphill climb back to the villas can be gruelling, especially if you’re making the trek in hot temperatures, after a long day of hiking and sightseeing, or after drinks and a big dinner. We would not recommend staying here if you have mobility issues or are out of shape, and won’t have a vehicle at your disposal. We’re physically fit and walk extensively, but we were glad we had to climb up and down that hill only three days. Had we been staying longer, we might well have begun to regret our choice of accommodations.
Final thoughts: Were we happy with Irene’s Villas? Overall, yes. Would we stay here again? Probably not. Next time we’d like to stay closer to the main part of town, and after hearing how much our friends enjoyed the Anemomiloi Studios, that would likely be our first choice for accommodations. But we would recommend Irene’s Villas for people who don’t require “out of the front door” access to shops and restaurants, who will have a vehicle at their disposal to get around, and who desire quiet and comfortable hideaway-style accommodations for their holiday.
Click here to read reviews for Irene’s Villas on TripAdvisor.
And click here to view full-size versions of our photos in our Irene’s Villas album on Flickr.