When it comes to Mykonos, one of the most cosmopolitan islands in the world, there’s no shortage of luxurious villas to rent. With most sharing the same high-end aesthetic of contemporary minimalism, it’s refreshing to come across the likes of a property such as Papyrella, a six-bedroom holiday retreat that eschews glamour for authenticity. Built in the 1980s, the house was recently renovated by Athens-based Architecture Research Practice in collaboration with the owners, Greek architect Sofia Xanthakou and gallerist and art dealer Andreas Melas, without effacing its original character. Coupled with the owners’ handpicked collection of design objects, vintage furniture and original artworks, Papyrella is imbued with a laidback, home-like ambience that marries traditional Cycladic hospitality with understated sophistication.
Perched on the hillside high above the port, just a five-minute drive from the town, the house enjoys panoramic sea views that give guests the chance to observe the choreography of ferries and cruise ships sailing between the islands. It is in fact these privileged vistas inspired the villa’s name: 'papyrella' is a primitive boat made from the stems of the papyrus plant that was used 10,000 years ago in the Cyclades to travel from one island to the other, so the name encourages guests to imagine those early traders or pilgrims audaciously crossing the Aegean Sea.
Built on two levels, the house follows the natural slope of the hill with the main living areas and three bedrooms located on the upper level with an additional two bedrooms downstairs, a configuration that ensures unobstructed sea views from all rooms. An independent guest house contains a sixth bedroom while the property also features a chapel. On the lower level, an expansive pool terrace is where the heart of the house beats during the day, while a series of smaller terraces and balconies allow guests to enjoy the views in privacy.
The villa’s interiors strike a harmonious balance between Cycladic simplicity, mid-century sophistication and vintage playfulness. Whitewashed walls, white-painted timber ceilings, and wooden doors and windows in a refreshing mint hue cheerfully conjure the island’s vernacular while making for bright and airy interiors. Meanwhile, terrazzo floors and marble counters enhance the aesthetic of refined simplicity and evoke a sense of pristine elegance.
The muted colour palette of white tones is complemented by pastel accents while red and blue coloured metallic chairs and playful fabrics add colourful accents. Vintage furniture subtly mixed with contemporary pieces and a whimsical collection of design objects and artworks constitute an eclectic retro-modern aesthetic that embodies Papyrella’s unique personality. Coupled with its privileged location and generous outdoor amenities, the villa stylishly epitomises Mediterranean summer living.