Dear fellow travellers,
I absolutely love traveling! And one of the most important aspects of visiting a new area is the accommodation it provides. And not simply because I also love sleeping and therefore enjoy a comfortable room 🙂 More importantly, the place where one stays is also the place where one most intimately interacts with its inhabitants. And its inhabitants are of course the place’s spirit and soul. This is why I like to stay in small, family-run hotels, guest-houses, B&Bs. I love to be welcomed by the owner himself/herself and cherish the feeling of being a client-guest, not simply a client.
I know that I am not alone in this search for authentic hospitality and this is why I am providing the following list of cosy places to stay. These are places that I have been to and liked for their location, architecture, decoration, breakfast (another VERY important aspect!) and above all, for their warm, friendly, real welcome.
If your route takes you anywhere near these places, I think that they are worth a visit. And if you do go, I honestly hope that you will enjoy them as much as I did!
P.S. All the accommodation listed here is also reasonably priced, especially if you travel in the mid or low seasons.
An old elegant stone mansion set in a well-kept citrus orchard. A great place for holidays spent relaxing in the lusg gardens, reading and walking around. Simple and authentic welcomg provided by the owner herself, Claire Xydas.
It is not an easy task to find a reasonably-priced, yet really nice accommodation in Oia, one of the most sought after destinations on the planet! But thankfully, there is Delfini! Delfini started out as a modest hotel overlooking the famous “kaldera”. It soon was successful enough to allow its owner, the always helpful Mrs Rena, to rent, renovate and sublet nearby cave houses, the so-called Deflini Villas. These are tastefully decorated self-catering apartments, all overlooking the famous volcano. Of course, the original hotel still exists, and although the rooms are pretty basic, they are clean and provide what you go to Santorini for: views of the breathtaking sunset over the volcano!
Milia is a a real village that was found abandoned and reconstructed with love and care to become an authentic eco “hotel”. Hotel is not the right word though, although there is accommodation for daily rent. In Milia you feel transported outside time and space, as if you have found yourself all of a sudden in another dimension. This is so because the village is completely hidden from sight and only once you have parked you car and started approaching it, does it appear. And once you are “inside”, you are in fact inside the mountain, protected from view by the lush vegetation. The buildings are also hidden from view, thanks to the fact that they are built with stone from the area which blends perfectly with the landscape. The rooms are furnished with local furniture, real “reclaimed” antiques! There is little electricity, provided by sun and wind harnessing technologies. So be prepared to really relax, love and sleep! The village’s food is grown on the spot and there are also animals which provide milk and meat. The group of friends who brought Milia back to life (I met Yorgos and Zoran during my two trips to Milia) are always around, taking care of the houses, the animals and their guests!
Evoia is a big island near Athens. Its Northern part is well known for its old spa facilities, but the rest of the island is less well known. Vateri is perched on a hill on top of the small port town of Limni. It is surrounded by olive trees and vines and looks over the Gulf of Evoia. From the spacious and comfortable rooms you can see the sea, as well as the extensive fertile grounds. We visited Vateri in winter and had the immense pleasure of a fireplace in our room, steaming hot mountain tea with honey and tsipouro, that most merry of Greek alcohols! The breakfast was great and the owners really nice and hospitable! If you go there, don’t miss the taverna of Kokkinomilia, with its exquisite lamb chops!
Mavrovouni, Gytheio, Peloponnese
I stayed in this hotel in late August 2010 and it was brand new! A beautiful construction, made with attention to detail, with the right combination of luxury and simplicity. The complex itself is made of stone and blends nicely with the surrounding olive groves. It reaches down to the sea and a many-km-long sandy beach that opens out into the endless blue of the Aegean. The position of the rooms is such that all seem to have a veranda with sea view, even the ones furthest away from the sea. One of the highlights is the area right in the front of the hotel for relaxing in the evening and watching the moon rise! Another highlight were the Coco-mat beds and pillows, which make for a great quality sleep! There is a swimming pool, mostly used by the kids. The breakfast was good (freshly squeezed orange juice and your personal choice of coffee a definitive plus!) and the personnel very pleasant, smiling and friendly! Last but not least, very reasoble prices, for the quality of the accommodation and the services!
Kosmas, Arcadia, Peloponnese
Kosmas is probably a village rather off-the-beaten-track for most tourists. But if you are traveling through the Peloponnese in the summer, a drive up to the mountains for a couple of days might provide you with a welcome break from the beating down of the sun and the relative monotony of the beach! The Arcadian mountains are generally beautiful and you will probably already know Dimitsana, Vytina, Karytaina etc. Another choice, on the West “coast” is Kosmas. A mere 40-minute drive from the beach near Leonidio (go there for the aubergine festival in late August!), it can offer quick relief from the heat, as it is nestled inside a forest. Its highlight, as a village, is of course its central square, were church and coffee places in the shadow of the enormous old plane trees vie for the attention of local and foreigner alike!
As in many other less known destinations in rural Greece new hotels have sprung up here too, offering very good quality accommodation for low or relatively low prices. One such small surprise was “Ouranogeiton”, a 5-minute walk from the central square. Brand new in August 2010, nice decoration, good quality matrasse and pillows, veranda with splendid views of the mountain, surprising luxurious towels (!) and a fireplace for the winter. The breakfast was very very very good, with fresh orange juice, homemade bread, omelet and a sort of fried bread with cheese inside. The owners are friendly and helpful also, which makes all in all for a very pleasant stay!
Vourvoura is certainly one of the most beautiful locations in Chalkidiki, mainly because of its stunning beach. It’s also a fun place to be, with good day and night life! If you venture this way, Villa Platanorama is a good accommodation solution, mainly because the owner, Aggelos Smagas, is such a fun person to be around and so hospitable too! The Villa itself is a traditional stone and wood construction, architecturally typical of the area. It has a bbq area under a wonderful plane tree, perfect for a summer evening with friends and family!
Travel & Do
Travel & Do is not a hotel, it is something better: An invaluable resource for organising your alternative activity holiday in Greece! Creator Ioannis Sampsonidis has traveled around southern Greece extensively, descovering in the process the sweetest, cosiest and most interesting alternative-minded hosts, hotels and guesthouses. With Travel & Do you can be absolutely sure that you will be traveling Greece off-the-beaten track, doing things really worth doing and meeting people really worth meeting!
Green Corfu is a website and not a hotel, but it is a great tool if you wish to visit Corfu the eco way and a great inspiration for anyone traveling anywhere responsibly!