Tara Beach Hotel - (Accommodation in Skala)

Neil L           

The public areas of the hotel look lovely - pool, gardens etc. These are available for anyone to use, whether you stay here or not. But the beauty is only skin deep.

Stayed in Tara beach for two weeks. We first had a downstairs room near the back, which seemed like a dungeon. The manager was helpful in moving us to a larger front room with a balcony and a nice sea view - what a mistake that was! We were woken every morning between 5 and 7am by noises from inside the hotel, the whole place seems designed to echo to every closing door, flushing toilet or clunking air-conditioner, and if you make it through to 7am then the staff have to start preparing breakfast - every kitchen noise, scraping chair or clanging gate. We left here exhausted and tetchy after 2 weeks of sleep deprivation.

Also the breakfast is awful - I have a fantasy in my head that the way it works is that the old coffee grounds go in the breakfast coffee, then when it becomes totally diluted and tasteless they call it tea. Finally, when it is reduced to pale grey water, they chill it and call it grapefruit juice. However, here's a trick - we asked for Cappucino every day, got a decent cup of coffee from the espresso machine, and although we gave our room number we were never asked to pay extra for it, I made a point of asking for our drinks bill but nothing was wanted.

Bring bathroom towels, the ones supplied are like sandpaper, which is common in Greece.

Staff generally reasonably efficient but unfriendly, one even served us and took the money while arguing on the mobile phone. I think we'd caught them at the end of a long season.

The beach was nice for swimming and snorkelling, but not ideal for kids, too stoney and steep, most adults were wearing shoes to go in the sea. Most children went to the swimming pools, but nearby Mounda beach (turtle beach) is ideal - shallow sand, not many people, and a nice beach cafe called Wind.

Skala itself is ideal if you want a quiet, sunny place to consume your English breakfast and dine on burgers, and watch English football on Sky, but if you want something a bit more Greek head for the North of the island, or go to neighbouring Ithaca. Some of the Northern towns are expensive, but Sami is cheaper than Skala and ideal for exploring the island and for ferries to ithaca and the mainland, and has one of the best beaches on the island just out of town at Antisamos.

Recommend breakfast (but not dinner) at The Pines, lunch at the Lucky House next to the Tara Beach hotel, and dinner at Sokrates - wonderful greek food at a reasonable price, and for footy fans the owner used to be in the youth squad at Panathiniakos. For a fish restaurant, Romantza in Poros is hard to beat, ask to see the fish in the fridge before you order, and they also have a range of meat and veggie dishes.

If you must come to Skala, I'd recommend the similar standard Paspalis Hotel down the road, or stay in an apartment and use the Tara beach pool for free.

For us, it is a lovely island, but we came to the wrong resort. Many people seemed happy, so we blame ourselves for choosing poorly.

Symposium Restaurant - (Restaurants in Skala)

Neil L           

Generally had lunch here, the best calamari we found anywhere, pretty much faultless and ideally located on the beach.

Socrates - (Restaurants in Skala)

Neil L           

The best restaurant we found, and one of the few "proper Greek" places in Scala. Outstanding food, excellent service, polite enough to let you struggle in Greek even though they speak fluent English. One of the few Greeks in Scala who would actually strike up a conversation, and even recognised us in the street after visiting their restaurant the first time. Also, with notice they are prepared to provide special food and drinks, birthday cakes, etc. We recommend everything, just stick a pin in the menu and enjoy.

On our last night, September 2004, dinner for 4 with sparkling wine (Italian Prosecco, specially bought for us, and served to us more cheaply than UK supermarket prices), normal wine, salads, starters, and more lovely food than we could eat, cost about 10 per head.

The Pines - (Restaurants in Skala)

Neil L           

can't overstate just how much we hated dining in this place, we certainly didn't go back on a second evening. we are obviously in a minority, because the place was packed with english tourists every night, but you won't find many greeks eating here. lost my will to live when a nice, juicy hirini brisola (pork chop) turned up cooked the english way instead of the tasty greek way.

about as authentic as a greek restaurant in sc**thorpe or salisbury, but certainly knows what his customers want, familiar food, friendly service and clean toilets.

wine was about 25% to 50% more expensive than the same wine elsewhere, overall one of our most expensive meals and very disappointing.

great for breakfast, for all the same reasons, familiar food etc. - non-stop coffee top-ups, full english breakfast with "proper english sausages", i could go on but you either want that sort of thing on holiday or you don't, and if you do then this place does it better than anyone.

Symposium Restaurant - (Restaurants in Skala)

Neil L           

Top notch for lunch, right on the beach, ice cold beer, and the best calamari in town.