Hey MTV. Welcome to my crib.
Since the age of 13, I've been wanting to say that. As cringe as it sounds, growing up I had an unhealthy obsession with MTV's celeb-studded show and vowed that one day (and much manifesting later) I'd own my own A-list-worthy crash pad. Fast forward to 2020 and I'm in Villa Soukillia. The mortgage may not be in my name but, for a week, I get to pretend that the eight-bedroom getaway rising from the cliffs of north-west Corfu, is mine. Adolescent me would be pretty proud.
Painted in an arresting Hermès orange and decorated with swoony-worthy creeping vines and blooms, Villa Soukilia, part of Villa Collective's staggering portfolio of luxury pads, is the haute couture of holiday homes. Driving through the wrought-iron gates and up the steep driveway that leads to an open courtyard of potted palms, prettily lit olive trees and sea views from every corner, you get the same feeling I can only imagine Brad Pitt gets at the Oscars when he sees Jennifer Aniston - one of lust, longing and a pang of sadness when you realise this thing of beauty will never quite be yours. Except for the seven-to-10 days you've booked it for.
Sure, we know Corfu isn't the most intrepid destination in the world, but if you're after sun, sea and a six-figure (to buy, at least) villa filled with your nearest and dearest pals, then Villa Soukilla is an absolute showstopper. Add in Kassiopi, a harbour town brimming with bakeries, superb seafood restaurants and a handful of Gray Malin-esque beaches, and it's a surefire spot for a great summer holiday with friends. After all, we love a good group getaway as much as the next sun-seeking squad.
With its eight individually decorated bedrooms, sleeping up to 16, Villa Soukilla could easily be a boutique hotel. Four of the rooms are in the main house and another four in the annexe - an ideal spot to base your rowdiest friends. All have marble-clad en suites, are decorated with a well-curated selection of art and nearly all rooms have bi-folding doors that lead out to lavender-strewn terraces. It's clear the villa owners are pretty well-travelled; there's plenty of rattan, metre-tall cacti in some bedrooms, eclectic backlit paintings and an array of sculptures occupying corners.
The largest (and only) room upstairs is the master equipped with its own dressing room, micro-library and private terrace overlooking the villa's courtyard. If you're holidaying with friends, it's worth elbowing everyone else's suitcases out the way, racing upstairs and calling shotgun.
As impressive as the master is, on our visit we snagged the "second" master downstairs for the freestanding bathtub, the soft glow of sunrise over the pool and the outdoor shower shaded by an olive tree. It's more than a worthy consolation prize should someone beat you to the boudoir upstairs.
Aside from the infinity pool and private beach? Let us begin with the ample outdoor dining space. We're talking three al fresco dining areas - two overlooking the pool, one beneath a veranda equipped with a stone pizza oven and built-in barbecue, plus a snug that's ideal for sneaking away with your significant other. All are beautifully lit by either rattan pendant lamps or framed by twinkling olive trees.
Inside, you'll find a Michelin-star-worthy kitchen with an airy, wood-beamed lounge filled with nautical touches, a well-stocked library - including ladders for the harder-to-reach titles - a selection of boards games, wall-mounted flat-screen TV (with Netflix) and squishy sofa that overlooks the sea. Better yet, there's housekeeping staff that visit six days a week, a chef in high season and a 24/7 concierge should you need restaurant recommendations, someone to take delivery of your food shop before you arrive or to fill the fridge with supplies.
Where should we go for a food shop?
The family-owned Nikos Food Market is a five-minute walk away. It's a little bit pricier than the bigger name supermarkets but the spanakopita (spinach and feta pie) is worth the extra splurge.
What about if we want to eat out?
There's plenty of options in nearby Kassiopi. Opt for Porto Nuovo for seafood, Tavernaki for a traditional Greek taverna dinner - it's the oldest and most respected in town - you can't beat Gyros! for, you guessed it, gyros. We developed a soft spot for Grandma's meatballs at Taverna Levanda. It's owned by the same family as Porto Nuovo, though it's a little more low-key and away from the harbourside.
Who should we bring?
The same friends that you'd host Come Dine With Me dinner parties with back home. Or anyone else that's a dab hand in the kitchen and will know how to fillet a just-caught fish to smoke on the barbecue. It'll be a shame to let that stocked kitchen go to waste.
Any essentials we need to pack?
Except for your holiday wardrobe? Not a thing. Everything from recipes books to blenders, saucepans to sushi-making kits can be found in the chef-approved kitchen that's stocked with more crockery than a wedding-present list at Liberty. There's even a stash of local wine in a temperature-controlled fridge that our housekeeper said we could help ourselves too (we did). We had as much fun rifling through the cupboards and spice racks - all neatly labelled and highly appealing to my OCD - as we did working out what to rustle up for dinner each night. You'll also find a stack of Korres toiletries, dressing gowns, bath towels and beach towels in each bathroom.
Things you should know
Corfu's coast is best explored by boat. Hire one from Filippos Boats who'll set you up with a map and lots of recommendations for your day at sea. Don't miss lunch at Taverna Agni but book ahead, it gets pretty busy.
Within a short walk, you can find…
Your own private beach. Come summer 2021, Villa Soukilla will have its own jetty for mooring one of the speedboats on for the duration of your trip. Walk a little farther and you're in the lively harbour town of Kassiopi.