A mountain high

Grand Forest Metsovo

Relaxation or exploration is the order of the day amid the breathtaking surroundings of Greece’s supremely stylish Grand Forest Metsovo

On the slopes of the Pindus Mountains in the Epirus region of northwestern Greece, surrounded by pine forest, natural springs and abundant wildlife, the five-star Grand Forest Metsovo is perfectly placed for explorers and nature lovers. Guests can journey up into the mountains by Jeep, bike or foot, where they can enjoy epic views, explore wild forests and native wildlife or seek out delicious truffles before enjoying an alfresco picnic.

“The property owns 2km of the land on the mountain, which is basically the whole peak,” explains hotelier Ellie Barmpagiannis, who grew up locally. “We preserve the surroundings and we are the stewards of the land. It’s all about nature. It’s easy to find a great hotel with perfect infrastructure and service, but we go beyond that. We tailor experiences for our guests and everything is designed to celebrate and showcase the majesty of nature, to give that feeling of respect for the world around us. We are here for anybody who sees themselves as an explorer.”

Visitors do not even have to leave the hotel to experience this sense of adventure, as each of the 62 suites has stunning mountain and forest views. The hotel’s eight interconnected buildings – designed by Vangelis Stylianides, one of Greece’s greatest living architects – are made with traditional and sustainable materials, and much of the furniture is designed by Stylianides and produced by local artisans. All the hotel’s water comes from the area’s 40 natural springs, while the menu at the Metsovo 1350m restaurant – the name a reference to the altitude – uses local ingredients under the direction of the celebrated Executive Chef Gikas Xenakis, who is renowned for his Modern Greek cuisine. The elegant Pines bar and lounge, which operates on request for private use, features exquisite malts and cigars and has been used by high-profile companies for annual board meetings. Professional and attentive, the staff are local so understand the area intimately, while the spa uses bespoke vegan cosmetics produced in Greece that incorporate the aromas of the forest, such as pine and juniper.

The appreciation for nature here is both detoxifying and invigorating. Guests can climb Greece’s highest road, go wild swimming in secluded rivers or the spectacular lake, or look for 80 different species of birds – including soaring eagles – or the rarely spotted brown bear, wolf and lynx. Angling, cycling, cross-country skiing and hiking are all possible. One popular excursion sees guests venture into the forest with an expert guide and her dogs to search for truffles, finishing in a picturesque setting around a wooden shelter where an alfresco meal is served with the day’s foraging. At the nearby town of Metsovo, highlights include a visit to one of the most valuable collections of Greek art outside of the National Gallery in Athens, as well as an acclaimed winery and dairy. You can even walk there through the forest. Further afield, the coast is only one hour away.

For travellers who adore Greece but are seeking an alternative to sun, seafood and island-hopping, Grand Forest Metsovo is the ideal destination. “It’s warm but we are cooler here because of the mountains, so it is different to what people expect from Greece,” says Ellie. “Above all, we want our guests to connect with nature in a mutually respectful way. We offer incredible service and complete privacy so our guests can enjoy meaningful experiences with genuine people in a beautiful location.”