Having immediately adopted a ‘When in Rome…’ (or Greece in this case) social policy on arrival on the hedonistic isle of Mykonos, Mr Smith is physically incapable of taking advantage of the complimentary glass of lunchtime champagne proffered to us on our arrival at the stunning Cavo Tagoo. The hotel is located a leisurely 600m stroll from the Old Town (Chora), where we’d spent the previous evening in debauched abandon at Caprice, one of the coolest waterside bars in which to waste a lot of time and money. A meek request for a glass of chilled mineral water is quietly muttered instead.
It would be hard, however, to imagine a more beautiful environment in which to recover from our excesses than this sybaritic, designer haven. Gleaming brilliant white against the azure of the Aegean, Cavo Tagoo (meaning 'Tagoo Caves') has undergone a recent injection of style, administered by award-winning architect Paris Liakos, and is now one of the most stunning stays on the Mykonos boutique hotel scene. Built into the cliffside, and with views over the yacht-dotted harbour and out to the nearby island of Delos (mythical birthplace of Artemis and Apollo), Liakos has created an incredible, absolutely-no-luxury-spared space.
Pressing life-saving glasses of iced water to our warm cheeks, we take in the open-plan reception littered with low-slung sofas stacked high with cushions. As we decide that this will more than do nicely, an immaculately linen-clad member of staff appears to show us to our room.
Each of Cavo Tagoo’s 80 rooms are built into the rocks and climb up the hillside, creating something resembling an ancient troglodyte community – albeit one designed by Tom Ford. Any thoughts of cavemen, however, are quickly dispelled upon entering our room. The four-poster draped with white canvas strips creates a haven within a haven, sitting on whitewashed wooden floors in the most delicate baby-pink-painted room. Cupboards and tables have been cleverly carved out of the cliffside. A wooden rocking chair and original modern Greek amphora add to the kooky, airy feel of the bedroom in which everything is immensely tactile, with not a hard line to be seen. From the gleaming cubes of its buildings, massaged into the sloping cliff-side, right down to the soft pastels of the bedroom walls, everything about this elegant spa hotel says pristine minimalism.
A gasp from the direction of Mr Smith in the bathroom turns out to be a huge sigh of pleasure. This huge room contains a Jacuzzi bath (again hewn from the rock) above which a wall-wide window allows romantic bathers to sit in the tub, frothing with Korres bubble-bath, while sipping cocktails from the minibar and watching the sun set over the twinkling lights of the harbour below. Honestly believing things could get no better, we head to the swimming pool and restaurant – and it soon becomes clear they definitely can.
Standing at the bottom of the cliff looking out to sea over the infinity pool, the space is flanked on one side by a 30-foot bar, which also doubles up as a fish tank full of multi-coloured tropical fish. Wooden decking with canvas loungers reaches out into the swimming pool, allowing constant toe-dipping for immediate refreshment, while rustic oak-hewn day-beds – shaded with black-and-white erotic prints – and drum-shaped tables are set back from the water’s edge for those wishing to find temporary respite from the sun. The open-plan dining room runs around two sides of the area and you can either choose to eat in classical style, reclining by the pool on your bed, or retreat to the shade for more serious feasting. Mr Smith says it’s like stumbling across a miraculous oasis: the shimmering pool surrounded by a fluttering encampment of tents and beds all created for the enchanted visitor’s maximum comfort and pleasure. I can only nod in awestruck agreement.
Cavo Tagoo’s food is also island-renowned, drawing in the serious foodies in the evening. After a hangover-curing plunge into the saltwater pool, we lie in perfect sunshine and order an eclectic mixture of delicious modern takes on traditional Greek starters – fresh octopus with chick pea salad, stuffed aubergines, halloumi cheese with olive and lemon dressing, cold Mythos beer and young, local white wine. Sun-kissed, replete and happy, we retire to our mountain cell for a much-needed siesta.
Rested, after bathing while watching a flaming sun sink over the sea, we walk down the hillside for a cocktail at the bar. By now, the swimming pool is under-lit with electric blue lights and the day-beds have been converted into huge, inviting sofas lit by swinging lanterns. Chill-out music fuses with the sound of the sea below and hotel guests are eating Greek specialities, Western staples or sushi at tables next to well-heeled and immaculately-dressed locals who’ve driven from all over the island for a special occasion. We stroll into town for dinner in one of the numerous harbourside restaurants that clamour for our custom.
Had Cavo Tagoo had been more isolated, I doubt we would have even set foot from its rocky walls (the loos downstairs are so stylish that at first I thought I had mistakenly walked into the spa). But the next morning, because we’re so close to town and the island is small and so easily explored, we decide to drive scooters down empty country roads with the wind in our hair. We even go skinny-dipping in the perfect, calm, clear sea on Panormos, a near-deserted beach to the north of the island, with a laid-back bar at one end containing huge pod-like white wicker loungers. We hide away at the other end of the beach, however, having brought cold beer, books and towels – what more could we need? In the afternoon, we head back to the luxe surrounds of Cavo to soak in more sunshine-with-waitress-service.
Second frothy bath over and it’s time to devour fresh seafood late into the night at the organised chaos of Niko’s, a hugely popular restaurant in town (and so in-demand that we even have to queue). Once seated, we are promptly surrounded by a group of outrageously camp locals preening themselves like exotic birds as they tuck into their lobster and shrimp. We spend the rest of the evening doing a great impression of people very definitely not eavesdropping.
Strolling back to our cavernous hillside retreat, we delay our inevitable bag-pack for just a little longer. Finishing off our stay with a glass of champagne and a loll around on one of those inviting poolside sofas, I can’t help but mentally count down the calendar months until we can return; the pull of this place is that strong. And with 33 rooms with private pools to choose from, all that’s left to do is pick the one we’ll call our own next time.
Anonymously reviewed by Lucy Cleland (Country-house connoisseur)
Reviews of Cavo Tagoo from Smith members
Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…
Rooms with plunge pools were fantastic. The suite had basically a full size pool! Rooms are very trendy and comfortable. Restaurant was empty for dinner but the food was amazing. The bar was very cool.
Joshua, BlackSmith stayed on 19 Sep 2013
Everything was fantastic – staff, rooms, position, services… There's a fantastic pool. Our room (330) was really perfect. It had a fantastic terrace with a Jacuzzi. On the last night they upgraded us to the Golden Villas, which was even better (we didn't think that was possible, but that room was really something close ot perfection).
The WiFi connection from our room (330) could be better. All the rest was just a fantastic experience.
Luca, BlackSmith stayed on 30 Jul 2013