Sit on the left-hand side of the plane as it makes its dramatic approach to Corfu Airport and a few miles from the runway you’ll spy a striking complex on a forested cliffside with something of the Bond villain lair about it.
It has a palatial swagger, with a monumental lagoon in the shape of a thick crescent in front of the brilliant-white facade that’s easily big enough for a few sharks.
From the air it looks like the perfect place to plan world domination, as my travel-desk colleague Ailbhe will later point out.
Ted Thornhill checks into Angsana Corfu, which has a sensational infinity pool (pictured above)
Angsana Corfu can be spotted from the air as your plane descends into Corfu Airport – if you sit on the left-hand side
Angsana Corfu has something of the Bond villain lair about it – the perfect place to plan world domination
What you’re gazing at as the plane descends is the recently opened Angsana Corfu hotel.
That mass of water is one of the most sensational infinity pools known to humanity and the array of rooms and villas deluxe chambers par excellence for guests who all generally carry smug expressions, brought on by the realisation that they’ve hit the hotel jackpot.
My partner, five-year-old daughter and I join them after a short drive in our hire car from the airport along a twisty coastal road. And are soon similarly enveloped in smugness.
Our open-plan sea-view room is the last word in chic, serene luxury. It’s smothered in beautiful dark wood, has storage galore, thoughtful touches such as plug sockets, USB points and light switches with dimmers arrayed on both sides of the vast comfy bed – plus a shelf running behind it – and boasts a standalone tub you could free-dive in with views out to the sparkling Ionian Sea. With an even better vista available from the gigantic terrace.
Gazing across the glistening water to the mountains of mainland Greece opposite is a dreamy pleasure.
And one that can be indulged in from multiple points.
That infinity pool, for instance. Which is a true wonder.
Cabanas are arranged in a fan shape around the water, with a gently sloping floor making it a joy for little ones and adults alike.
The jaw-dropping views beckon, too, from the excellent Starboard Terrace above.
Cabanas are arranged in a fan shape around the infinity pool, with a gently sloping floor making it a joy for little ones and adults alike
Ted and his family stay in an open-plan sea-view room similar to the one pictured above
The bath in Ted’s ensuite (similar layout above) is big enough to free-dive in, he exclaims
To infinity pool and beyond: Ted’s daughter soaks it all in
Here you can order top Greek wines (from the likes of the Tselepos Winery and Oenops Wines) and top bites – we love the cold cuts hung clothes-line-style on a wooden board bedecked with wires draped between little poles.
The quality of the food is no surprise, really, as it’s prepared here by the hotel’s showstopping fine-dining restaurant, Botrini’s, overseen by Corfiot Italian Ettore Botrini. He was trained by three-star chef Martin Berasategui and it’s readily apparent he paid attention.
Botrini’s outlet in Athens has a Michelin star and if there’s any justice in the world, his Angsana eatery will also be garlanded with one.
It’s superb, marrying exquisite, technically accomplished dishes with charming, impeccable service, as we discover on our second evening.
We manoeuvre our way through the 12-course tasting menu (£123/145 euros/$145), wowed by the likes of ingenious ‘mushroom macaroons’ filled with mushroom mousse; wrapped steamed scallops with spinach filled with truffle and foie gras; milk-fed lamb with eggplant and miso fig pie; and a jar of herring’ ice cream’ mixed with corn foam and breadcrumbs – a wonderful mixture of temperatures and textures.
To accompany we plump for the wine flight, which includes a superstar white from Santorini – a Gaia Assyrtiko Wild Ferment. A match for the creamiest Burgundy.
Water treat: Some of the rooms at Angsana Corfu come with inviting plunge pools (above)
The hotel’s ‘showstopping’ fine-dining restaurant Botrini’s is overseen by Corfiot Italian Ettore Botrini. He was trained by three-star chef Martin Berasategui
Ted says of Botrini’s (above): ‘It’s superb, marrying exquisite, technically accomplished dishes with charming, impeccable service’
Yum’s the word: An example of one of Botrini’s dishes
Breakfast is also a joyous feast – a wonderland of every foodstuff and food group you could possibly desire, from pancakes with chocolate sauce to doughnuts, and from Greek yogurts to bowls of the freshest fruit.
And even when the place is a circus – the 159-room hotel is at 99 per cent occupancy when we visit – service is always 100 per cent efficient.
I never wait longer than a few minutes – for anything.
Angsana Corfu’s main complex ensnares you, but leave one must.
For starters, to enjoy the property’s excellent private beach, about one kilometre below (a free shuttle service whisks guests back and forth).
It’s an inviting all-rounder with a cute, sheltered beach, a bar and restaurant – the latter serving superb Greek salads with chunks of feta so big you could surf on them – and a mixture of cabanas and sun loungers. Plus, there’s a jet ski moored at the beach’s jetty you can rent (though the 100 euro fee is a bit much for us) and if you like bouncing around almost uncontrollably, you can get towed along behind a speedboat on a giant inflatable doughnut.
Angsana has an ‘excellent’ private beach about one kilometre below the main building (above) – a free shuttle service whisks guests back and forth
Pictured left is the ‘superb’ Greek salad Ted eats at the Angsana beach restaurant. Pictured right is a section of the hotel’s breakfast feast
The only fly in the ointment is a continuous wafting of inane dance music.
Outside the hotel’s walls, we also drive up to the north-west coast and pay a visit to the magical Paleokastritsa Monastery.
The journey is a rapid immersion into the Corfu driving culture. Which at times verges on bonkers.
I’m beeped almost continuously by two locals behind me as I carefully drive up a wildly steep hairpin-strewn road leading away from the hotel towards the island’s rugged interior.
The exasperated driver immediately behind adds a bit of psychotic arm flapping to the mix to ensure I’m getting the message that I’m below rally-car speeds and that this is frankly not acceptable (I pull over and let them pass…).
Angsana’s spa has an otherworldly feel to it, with treatment rooms that feature views across the sea
The hotel’s impressive indoor pool and gym. Rooms cost from £126 per night
The clifftop monastery offers respite from the wacky races on the winding lanes.
The sweeping views take the breath away. And what’s more, there’s a great restaurant next door – Monastre.
After a generally salad-themed lunch there we squeeze onto packed Agios Spiridon Beach below. Then take a short and sweet boat tour to escape the tangle of burning bodies. The captain is a riot and the trip includes some amazing sea caves, and a cruise past a ghostly abandoned hotel and the incredible cliffside La Grotta Bar. Plus, we pause for a quick dip in the middle of a bay. A moment to treasure.
Ted enjoys a trip to Unesco-listed Corfu Town, above. He says to wander its streets is to ‘step back in time’
Ted and his family pay a visit to eye-catching Agios Spiridon Beach (above). However, the sheer number of people there prompts them to take a boat trip that tours the local sea caves. ‘The captain is a riot,’ says Ted
The verdict? It’s five stars for Angsana from Ted
Our other excursion is to Unesco-listed Corfu Town, which leaves us spellbound. To wander the ancient streets here – with their beautifully preserved neoclassical buildings – is to step back in time.
Later, we’re back on the Starboard Terrace at the hotel, indulging in a brace of whites (each) and gazing aimlessly across the Ionian Sea once more.
This is where I’d like the clocks to stop.