My first memories of Skiathos are flying over this glistening Greek island in a tiny juddering plane filled with cigarette smoke. My best friend’s family had a little house on Alonnisos, two islands along the Sporades, where as teenagers we spent many a sun-soaked summer holiday, scrambling down dusty road to the local beach.

Later, dizzy with serotonin, we would head to the disco, which took place in a tiny mirrored room by the port thick with smoke machines and the taste of peach schnapps. I can still remember the wafts of freshly-cooked spanakopita, which we’d buy from the bakers just as it opened, before making our way back up the hill to the village. But it was those rattling plane-rides from Athens that still makes my stomach flutter; the memory of smoking cheap cigarettes in the seats behind our parents. A lot has changed since then – not least air travel.

This was cause for relief, and slight disappointment, as we set off recently for a family holiday on Skiathos, an island of golden sands and mountains, popular with walkers particularly out of season when the cool sea breeze make the forest tracks more appealing. More popular still with nudists, drawn year-round to Banana Beach. This is the sandy cove where we encountered a man called Derek, with whom my husband had a pleasant conversation about lawn-mowers, after we stumbled upon Little Banana – the nudist section of this idyllic stretch – having wandered too far down an adjoining dirt track.

These days, you can fly direct to Skiathos, the island best-known as the dazzling setting for the film Mamma Mia. At the airport we were met by a member of staff from our chosen boutique hotel, Mandraki Village. The soft leather of the car-seats and chilling air-con was the perfect transition from the stuffy airport to our destination, some 20 minutes away up a gradually looping mountain road. There we found well-sized, beautifully-kept grounds surrounding the main hotel – a glistening white and glass building with a swanky terrace. Dotted around it a series of outbuildings, some on a single level with their own outdoor eating area. Others apartments set over two floors.

Our ground-floor family suite overlooked bright pink roses in the gardens, where a wooden playground was the perfect spot for our daughter to play while we drank cocktails on our terrace and lounged by the pool – all within a few metres. The room itself, a 40 square metre space with a bedroom separated from the living area by a sliding door, was ideal for hanging out after hours. Utilising the flat-screen TV and free Wi-Fi, lazing on the terrace, or freshening up with a hydro-massage jet shower and divine complimentary KORRES products.

It was tempting never to leave the hotel, with the food at Ella’s, the hotel’s restaurant a delicious contemporary pan-European affair, with local delicacies given a fresh twist. With the menu curated by local chef Jovi Kofinas, and supporting small-scale Greek farmers, samples include Zucchini spaghetti salad with Alonissos tuna, capers and sour cheese; and octopus spetsofai with figs & almonds on an aubergine papoutsaki.

Had we known how good the food would be, we would have opted for half-board rather than bed and breakfast.
The staff at the hotel’s restaurant would happily whisk the children away to see the kitchens, or watch the sunset, while we ate. But some nights we just headed to the more low-key White Bar for snacks.

For those moments when you fancy straying from the hotel, there are several beautiful restaurants – some low-key, some more upmarket – is a regular local bus service that stops outside the hotel and travels along the main road around the island. It can get a bit hot and pongy in the heat of the day but it is cheap and efficient, and will take you to a number of beaches and restaurants, including Kolios which is perfect for kids – set in a quiet, sheltered bay. Sadly the taverna here has closed down, but there is a nice bar and snack area at Vromolimnos, which is in the next bay along. To access Lalaria, the purest beach on the island – no bar, taverna, just beautiful crystalline water and a few small boats, you need to hop on a boat.

If you fancy something more cultural, head to the monastery of Evaggelistria with four museums nestled in beautiful verdant surroundings, where older kids will lap up the magical atmosphere. Beware, though, this is not a place for easily manouevring buggies.

Enjoy a coffee under the pine trees at the public coffee house on Bourtzi, which divides the port into two parts. 
Best of all, walk three minutes from the hotel, along a shaded path to the world-famous Koukanaries beach, with its endless golden sands and a stone pine forest running behind giving off a delicious scent. Let us be honest, unless your kids are slightly older you are unlikely at this stage to be able to pull out a book and snooze on the sand for the next hour. But who cares? Spread out your towel, lay out the buckets and spade, dose up on sun-cream, breathe in the smell of the ocean, and relax.

Mandraki at a glance:

Ease of journey from UK – 4

Kids rating – 4

Adults rating – 5

Overall value – 4

Best for? Primary-aged children, beaches, relaxing and eating

Worst for? Buggies and sun-a-phobes

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