Irini Studios is situated at the waterfront; the primary building is only 20 meters from the water (across the beautiful garden). The location is wonderful, the owners are big sweethearts, but the apartments are a bit Spartan.
The owners of the building aren't the ones you'll be in contact with when booking via Tripadvisor; the internet bookings are arranged by some bigger organization. The contact person is very responsive, but isn't very clear with his explanations on the first try, so just keep asking when you don't understand his answers. And once you have booked, don't panic if he suddenly doesn't respond anymore within a day (as we did..). He'll not respond as quickly anymore, but eventually he will come through with the information on how to reach the apartments, etc. That's all good.
Choose your building:
Firstly, please take note that there are 3 separate buildings. You have the building on the waterfront (contains 2 studios for 2 people with sea view) on the ground floor. The owners live on the upper floor of this building. Behind that building, a litte bit to the side are several more apartments, buit it looked like those weren't finished yet (on the 1st floor at least). When facing this apartment (your back to the sea) only the left studio has sea view. The right studio has a view of the 1st building (where the owners live). The 3rd building faces the drive way towards the apartment and is not very private/has smaller balconies. I would definitely recommend staying in one of the two studio's in the 1st building, with the best waterfront (where the owners sleep above). This is were we were.
The location is ABSOLUTELY lovely, without question. The garden is spacious and very well kept, with beautiful palm trees and bougainvillea. The photo's on Tripadvisor are a bit old, so expect the palms to be bigger, and the garden to be a bit more lush (which is a plus). There is no sand on the beach anymore, this has been replaced with reed. This is not a big deal however, as the garden is perfect to lounge in, and there are sunbeds and air matrasses for the water to use. There is a ramp that helps you down into the water, so you do not need to wade through the reed. The water itself is very, very clean from the ramp onwards, and shallow in the beginning. Visible sandy ocean bottom. There is a rowing boat and several canoes you can use for free as well. There are several garden showers so you can rinse the seawater down.
When you stay for 7 days, the apartment gets cleaned once, in the middle of the week. If you want clean towels before that, you can just ask the owners. They are very accommodating.
About these owners, these are the most WONDERFUL people on the planet. Giorgios and Irini (the apartment is named after her) are the biggest sweethearts ever. When we arrived we were basically hugged to death and they immediately gave us some water so we would not need to go to the supermarket for that first thing, and they borrowed us their own mosquito repeller for the night (one that plugs into the electricity net). They gave us a lot of wonderful tips for sight seeing, from secular beaches, to wonderful Greek tavernas in quiet villages where you can eat the best fresh fish. As long as they can fix it, or help you, you'll want for nothing.
The location is only a 10 minute drive from Lefkimi, up north, supposedly one of the bigger cities on Corfu, but it is really not big at all. The center, with the old river and bridge, is very cute. I don't recommend eating there, however, but for coffee or just a drink it is great. Try the good milkshakes at the modern coffee bar at the bridge. For fresh fish, go to Petriti (Leonidas taverna!!) or Boukaris. Towards the south of the Island is Cavos (or Kavos). Stay away from there if you like a quiet time, only a lot of young English 'binge drinkers' there and constant partying. You'll get no taste of real Greek life there. For beaches: please, go to the secret paradise beach. Wonderful.
Supermarkets and gas:
There is a mini market (not expensive) 1 minute walk from the apartment, and a several bigger supermarkets within a 15 minute drive (a Lidl, and some Greek mega markets), so that's perfect. Gas station (BP) is also very close, on the road past Lefkimi towards Kerkyra/Corfu city - the same road as the bigger supermarkets are on.
Now for the bad stuff:
- The apartment is pretty Spartan. It is clean, but pretty old, and smells a bit moldy.
- The furniture is old/dated (we didn't really mind, but some might care).
- The beds are pretty hard and uncomfortable.
- Water (pressure/temperature). Our apartment (the right one when facing the water) had hardly any water pressure, and sometimes did not get warm. The other one has OK water pressure however, so try to get that apartment when booking! Water temperature is better there also (but it still takes a while before it gets warm). After 2 days we decided just to shower in the garden; the garden showers were nice temperature and had much better water pressure (at least then it did not take me 10 full minutes to wash the shampoo out of my hair). It was a bit of a workaround, but that was ok.
- Toilet: hardly flushes. You often had to get lucky to get things actually flushed down...
- Noise. As I said before, the party area Kavos is quite close. You'll hear DJ music during evenings because of these disco beats. It's a bit of a pity, the owners dislike it as well (they even went over there to get it to quiet down, but there's nothing they can do) and it ruins the sound of the water reaching the shore, and the crickets. Some evenings are better than others. Generally it's not as bad that you cannot have a normal conversation, it's more of a background nuisance, and you'll be able to sleep.
- Temperature. The apartment has airco, but it's a very crappy airco, and the airco only powers on when all windows and the door towards the porch are closed (there is a safety on it). Because there are so many mosquito's on the island (buy A LOT of good mosquito repellant) you cannot sleep with the windows open. There is 1 window with mosquito mesh, but one window isn't enough to have some fresh air in the apartment during the night. So the sleeping wasn't good. Very hot and stufy and a bit noisy because of Kavos sometimes.
- Mosquito's. Lots of 'em. But that's probably normal on Corfu and not related to the location (?)
TL;DR: great location, pretty garden, only 20 meters from the sea, extremely wonderful owners. Very quiet apartment place (we were the only guests there at the time except for the first 2 days of our arrival). The apartment was pretty Spartan however, too warm for sleeping, bad shower and toilet, hard beds, so we would not return. Unfortunately. Because we loved the location and the owners. If the apartments were better, I would definitely return. If you don't care about a bit of a Spartan stay however, I would definitely recommend it. Sweet surroundings, nice area, great owners... so great I even feel a bit bad tearing the quality of their apartment down here…
p.s., there is a good filter coffee machine (very important for the addicts among us..), and you can use the owners' wifi (when near the primary building).
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