Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Europe’s secret — and more affordable — beach clubs

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It’s the most decadent and pampering way to while away a day by the Mediterranean: sipping rosé and snacking on seafood in a beach club. Some of the most well known spots charge hundreds of euros for a spell on their exclusive stretch of sand, but there are smaller, cooler hangouts, with reasonable(ish) sunlounger rental and drinks prices — and often a less clubby atmosphere. Here we’ve selected ten low-key, high-charm options in some Europe’s loveliest beach destinations. Whether you’re lounging with a book, buying rounds of tequila, posing on a daybed or hanging out for the sunset, these spots deliver on seaside bliss.

You could start the day here with hatha yoga and breakfast by the waves (£32pp) and end it with an alfresco movie night, with festoon lights strung between the palms. But most head to this chic spot on Cala Sol d’en Serra for sunbathing, swimming and long-lunching. Dining tables sit under sail-like canopies, loungers are comfily cushioned on a sandy ledge above the sea and the food is Spanish and fine-dining dainty — try the jamon iberico and pan con tomate, or the squid ink risotto. Set in a deep scoop of Balearic bay hugged by tall amber cliffs, it is a cinematic spot in which to spend a day. Unwind at the five-star Aguas de Ibiza Grand Luxe Hotel to continue the pampering.
Details Open April 19-October 19; pair of loungers and umbrella rental £50, cocktails from £13, mains from £23 (amanteibiza.com). Seven nights’ B&B from £1,178 including flights (britishairways.com)

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2. Baracoa, Skiathos, Greece

Tzaneria is a bohemian beach club on Skiathos

Tzaneria is a bohemian beach club on Skiathos

ALAMY

Skiathos is known as a family-friendly Greek island but glamorous spots are cropping up, including this bohemian beach club on relaxed Tzaneria in the south. Take the bus along the coast from Skiathos town (it’s stop 13) and look out for Baracoa’s distinctive crochet parasols. The music is low-level chillout outside of big holidays (including Greek Easter — opa!), when it ramps up a notch. You’ll be able to read and chat on the dove-grey cushioned loungers, toes in Tzaneria’s powdery blond sand and Bahama mama cocktail in hand. Cool off on the thatched-roof terrace with mezze including sardines on sourdough and bottarga-sprinkled taramasalata. One of the island’s most luxurious hotels, the Skiathos Princess, is a few minutes’ drive away.
Details Open May 1-October 15; pair of loungers and umbrella rental from £17, cocktails from £10, mains from £11 (baracoa.gr). Seven nights’ B&B from £1,123pp including flights (olympicholidays.com)

3. Calderisi Mare, Puglia, Italy

Calderisi Mare in Puglia is owned by a local masseria

Calderisi Mare in Puglia is owned by a local masseria

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The southern region of Puglia is the place to look in Italy for stylish but affordable beach clubs. Close to the town of Savelletri, the Calderisi Mare club is owned by a local masseria (Puglia’s farmhouses turned hotels) and has beds set on champagne-coloured sands and palm-thatched parasols. The whitewashed main building, with its restaurant and DJ booth, provides bites and buzz: dig into fennel salads with orange pieces and black olives, spaghetti alle vongole or freshly fired-up pizzas with veg from the owners’ garden. Beers start at a very accessible £4.20 but there’s plenty in the way of Aperol spritzes, Veuve Clicquot and Ruinart if you’re living it up. Stay at nearby Hotel La Sorgente, close to Savelletri’s shops and restaurants.
Details Open May 1-October 15; pair of loungers and umbrella rental £50, cocktails from £8.50, mains from £8.50 (calderisimare.com). Seven nights’ B&B from £1,314pp including flights and transfers (citalia.com)

4. Eden Plage, Sainte-Maxime, France

Sainte-Maxime has an unpretentious feel

Sainte-Maxime has an unpretentious feel

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Set in Sainte-Maxime, St Tropez’s less flashy, subtly cool neighbour, this locally loved hangout has an unpretentious feel and cheerful lavender-cushioned loungers facing the water. This is the classic French Riviera beach: buttery sands, DJs spinning chillout tunes, women in kaftans and huge sunglasses sipping rosé. Caprese and Caesar salads, tuna tartare and lobster linguine head up the menu of Mediterranean crowd-pleasers, eaten on a spacious wooden deck under rippling purple parasols. Several spins on the mojitos, piña coladas and daiquiris will keep you in the holiday mood, with milkshakes on hand for kids (who are most welcome). Stay at the sea-facing Hotel La Nartelle, just the other side of La Nartelle beach.
Details Open March 31-October TBC (weather dependent); pair of loungers and umbrella rental from £51, cocktails from £14.50, mains from £18.50 (edenplage.com). Seven nights’ room-only from £576pp including flights (expedia.co.uk)

5. Oyana Beach, Marbella, Spain

Oyana is a good spot for foodies

Oyana is a good spot for foodies

Marbella is another hot spot for big-spending beach clubs, but Oyana, which opened last year, is an authentic, friendly and foodie place to lounge. Built around a sun-trap beach restaurant shaded by palm trees and banana plants, Oyana is open for iced coffees and breakfasts in the morning through to sundowners on the beach (the tequila-spiked spicy mango cocktail pairs nicely with the view). Plump loungers along the sociable, biscuit-sanded Playa del Alicate cost less than £20 a day, so you can splash out on a great lunch: sea bass ceviche, prawns pil pil, miso cod and Iberian pork ribs all grace the tempting menu. A towel, bottle of water and fruit smoothie shot are included in your sunbed price. Holiday at the four-star Hotel Amare Marbella, less than 15 minutes’ drive away.
Details Open year round; pair of loungers and umbrella rental from £18.50, cocktails from £12.80, mains from £13.50 (oyanabeach.com). Seven nights’ B&B from £1,534pp including flights and transfers (easyjet.com)

6. Hippie Fish, Mykonos, Greece

Agios Ioannis has mellow music and affordable sunloungers

Agios Ioannis has mellow music and affordable sunloungers

ALAMY

Mykonos’s high-end beach clubs routinely hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons: shocked tourists being billed £340 for three “market-price” crab legs and two drinks, say. So Hippie Fish, on Agios Ioannis beach, feels refreshing — mellow music, comparably affordable sunloungers and a distinct lack of anyone trying to fleece you. Sunbeds will still bust the budget compared with other Greek islands — £68 a pair in high season — but the beach area is spacious and the service attentive. Top-quality sushi platters, grilled sardines and risotto can be ordered to your cabana; Sunday night is Greek night, with traditional musicians and fire dancers. Book the chic Rhenia Hotel in Tourlos for a similarly stylish base.
Details Open May 17-October TBC (weather dependent); pair of loungers and umbrella rental from £50, cocktails from £13.50, mains from £15 (hippiefish-mykonos.com). Seven nights’ B&B from £642 including flights and transfers (tui.co.uk)

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7. Coral Beach Club, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Coral Beach Club is on a small slice of beach backed by cliffs and forest

Coral Beach Club is on a small slice of beach backed by cliffs and forest

ALAMY

This may not be Croatia’s cheapest beach club but it’s the loveliest location: on a small slice of beach backed by cliffs and pine forest in Lapad, Dubrovnik. A ritzy seafront restaurant is skirted by cream cushioned loungers on sands lapped by the pearly-blue Adriatic. While the menu is incredibly luxe — seafood platters and £340 oysters-and-caviar packages with champagne thrown in — you can also have an excellent fish soup for £10 or Caesar salad for £24. This is a cashless venue: you load up a wristband with food or drink along the way and scan it to pay at the end. Resident DJs play from 2pm, so it does get lively. Stay at the adults-only Valamar Argosy Hotel, within walking distance of Coral Beach.
Details Open May 1-October 1; pair of loungers and umbrella rental from £85, cocktails from £13.50, mains from £24 (coral-beach-club.com). Seven nights’ B&B from £1,151pp including flights and transfers (jet2holidays.com)

8. Akron Beach, Corfu

Akron is set on the Corfu’s dazzling Agia Triada

Akron is set on the Corfu’s dazzling Agia Triada

Set on one of Corfu’s most dazzling west-coast beaches, the emerald-watered Agia Triada, this laid-back venue furnishes you with great-value iced coffees, Greek wines, beers and cocktails as you relax. Close to popular Paleokastritsa beach, Agia Triada is hugged by tall evergreens and unspoilt cliffs, while Akron’s rope-curtained daybeds, comfy bean-bag chairs and crochet parasols set the scene for an unpretentious, convivial day on the sands. There’s a long, slim plunge pool beside which you can lounge or lunch, and shaded tables for the hotter hours of the day; dig into pancetta, anchovy and gruyère salads, oysters with fennel and lemon, or fish carpaccio with peach and basil. Stay at the Akrotiri Beach Hotel, directly above Agia Triada, where there is a freshwater infinity pool.
Details Open May 1-October 20; pair of loungers and umbrella rental from £17, cocktails from £9.50, mains from £13 (akron.gr.) Seven nights’ B&B from £1,538pp including flights and transfers (sunvil.co.uk)

9. Sea Me Beach, Fethiye, Turkey

Sea Me Beach feels like a mirage

Sea Me Beach feels like a mirage

Set on a shingly swathe of beach on a forested peninsula south of Fethiye, Sea Me Beach feels like a mirage. Thatched-roof double cabanas and parasols gaze out over the crystalline waters of Boncuklu beach; gulets and yachts linger just offshore, with day guests plunging into the bay; clubby beats fill the air as beachgoers let loose on vodka-and-seaweed nori breeze cocktails or jugs of icy sangria. Food ranges from well-stuffed sushi rolls to calamari and noodle bowls. There’s a youthful vibe and DJs pump up the volume by sunset, so go early to chill or be prepared to party. Stay in the area at Hillside Beach Club, one of the Turquoise Coast’s most luxurious hotels.
Details Open May 14-October TBC (weather dependent); pair of loungers and umbrella rental from £30, cocktails from £9, mains from £8 (seamebeach.com). Seven nights’ full board from £1,480 including flights and transfers (theturquoisecollection.com)

10. Tamaricciu Beach Club, Corsica, France

Palombaggia beach is in the southeast of Corsica

Palombaggia beach is in the southeast of Corsica

ALAMY

Corsica is blessed with some of the Mediterranean’s loveliest powder-soft beaches — and the one that hosts Tamaricciu is a dead ringer for the Caribbean. Settle in on Palombaggia beach in the island’s southeast (fly to Figari), where crescent-moon white sands and glassy waters are framed by densely forested slopes and huge boulders. The beach club has a restaurant where you can share gnocchi and mushrooms, grilled langoustines, or truffle pizzas under huge cream parasols. You can order drinks to your lounger too, with buckets of icy rosé most popular among the regulars. Make the spacious, minimalist Villa di Lume (sleeping eight) your holiday base and enjoy views of Palombaggia from its gardens.
Details Open May 1-October TBC (weather dependent); pair of loungers and umbrella rental from £135, cocktails from £15, mains from £24 (tamaricciu.com). Seven nights’ self-catering for eight from £1,367pp including flights and car hire (simpsontravel.com)

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