Hotel Villa Mahal
By Fairlight Jones
About the Hotel
Voted Condé Nast Johansens Most Romantic Hotel in Europe and featured prominently in the Sunday Times Hot 100 Europe’s Best Hotels, the Hotel Villa Mahal has attracted significant international accolades.
Set on a pine clad hillside on the far shore of Kalkan bay, the Mahal was created by designer Ipek Tolbas - and the designer’s eye and attention to detail is everywhere, from the elegant sweep of curves white walls through to the elegant modern interiors that make best use of the space and light coming in from the sea.
Ipek is still very much at the forefront of the waterfront hotel. She runs a tight ship and staff could not do more to help. Cobbled steps wind their way down the steep hillside past an array of sun-kissed terraces and gardens – including a lovers’ double-chair swing - with shrubs and subtle arches affording utmost privacy for each of the 13 rooms. Even when Hotel Villa Mahal is full it never feels crowded.
Located on the far shore of Kalkan Bay, which is unquestionably the prettiest side, it is just a short hop by the Mahal water taxi to the cobbled alleyways, bustling boutiques and renowned roof-terrace restaurants rising up from the harbour.
We believe, however, you will prefer to dine at Mahal’s Waterfront restaurant which is known for its outstanding cuisine: dishes are beautifully presented and enjoyed by the water’s edge under the stars.
All rooms and suites have far-reaching sea views and a private terrace on which to enjoy the sights and sounds of the enormous bay. Each has a contemporary design, whitewashed with a splash of colour alongside a Nespresso machine and Molton Brown products: you’ll struggle to tear yourself away. The most indulgent are the Pool Suite and Cliff House with private pools and an impressive amount of space.
The Waterside dining at Mahal is a compelling choice for its location alone and offers a menu to match. A moreish Turkish breakfast is served on the rooftop terrace at the top of the hotel - a generous spread of local ingredients including honey in the comb and super-sweet melons, with beyaz peynir (a feta-style cheese) and mint tea.
A series of steps (‘181 steps to heaven’ according to Ipek) lead down through olive tree-strewn grounds, past secret corners and the infinity pool to the beach club below. Built into the rocks are a series of wooden platforms with teak loungers, parasols and hammocks where it’s easy to while away the hours. Shade is provided by a mix of fragrant lime, fig and frangipani trees and it’s literally a stepping stone into the inky-blue waters.
Swim out to the floating pontoon if the mood takes you – perfect for sunbathing and a great base for swimming on the crystal clear waters.
To relax you even further, you can even try the Balinese massage in a cave to the sound of the lapping waves.
By nightfall the beach club transforms into a restaurant with tables set right by the water's edge. Dining by candlelight with fine silverware, you look out over twinkling lights of Kalkan harbour. We can thoroughly recommend the tipsy prawns flambéed in garlic chilli, lemon and a hint of rum and carnivores will have a wonderful time - the pinnacle in our opinion being the Sultan’s Delight (hünkar beğendi) - a rich Lamb stew on a bed of aubergine puree.