Close your eyes and think of the Greek islands. Think of their sun-baked landscape, the gentle lapping of the ocean and the sweet fragrance that lingers on the warm, salty breeze. There’s a particular fragrance to these sun-baked islands – pine, from the pine forests that carpet its hills, sweet honey, jasmine, the salt from the sea itself, zesty citrus and fresh fig – all evoke images of languid days in the Aegean and Ionian. One Greek island that combines these scents is Hydra, a tiny, car-free idyll just a short boat ride from Athens (a five-hour flight from the UAE). Once the refuge of musicians, artists, creatives, and then the world’s elite, Hydra is one of the most naturally rich Greek islands. One particular lover of Hydra is French perfumer Emilie Bouge, who used the island’s sensory experience and rugged beauty to craft her new summer fragrance with British perfumer Miller Harris.
The new summer fragrance Hydra Figue combines fig, sea salt, upcycled oakwood and Greek saffron to showcase the slow and sensual life enjoyed on Hydra. These deeper, intense scents are balanced with citrus notes of zesty lemon and energising cedrat, which take wearers to a taverna overlooking the Aegean sea or to an orchard of fig trees. The sea blue bottle also takes inspiration from the storied waters of the Aegean Sea with a shiny cap reminiscent of Hydra’s dazzling golden sunsets. Sustainability was also in mind when crafting the fragrance, and upcycled materials with as oakwood harvested from pre-used wine barrels and ingredients like hydrolat sage – a by-product from sage oil extraction – minimise the fragrance’s impact on the planet. The scent is available in the UAE from Selfridges and is AED506 for 100ml of Eau de Parfum.
While the new summer fragrance Hydra Figue transports you to Hydra, the Bohemian island need not be a visualisation this summer season. Located just a 1 hour and 30-minute ferry from Athens, it’s one of the most accessible Greek islands escapes from the UAE this summer. The island comes alive between April and October when local bakeries, tavernas and boutiques hidden down cobbled lanes lined with brilliant pink bougainvillaeas come to life.
Notable residents and visitors to Hydra included Leonard Cohen, John Lennon, and American novelist Henry Miller, who described the island’s intense, raw beauty as ‘wild and naked perfection’. Miller was among the many writers and artists who flocked to the island in the 1930s to seek creative refuge. Singer-songwriter Cohen’s former home is still visible in the steep backstreets of the main town – complete with an artistic door-knocker in the shape of a hand.
What’s notable about Hydra is its passion for the slow life. Hydra is a car-free island, and no one is in a rush at all – setting their pace to the gentle lapping of the waves. While rustic, wild and laid-back, Hydra is home to some gorgeous five-star and boutique hotels. Four Seasons Hydra Luxury Suites (not part of the global luxury brand) is a six-suite property on one of the island’s better beaches; Bratsera Hotel is a charming white-washed property on the Aegean with traditional decor and a turquoise swimming pool, and Cotommatae Hydra 1810 is a historic walled property turned boutique hotel, originally built in 1810 and owned by the family to this day.