An Insider’s Guide To Athens And Lesser Known Greek Islands
At Eighty Four Rooms, our love affair with Greece is infinite. To get the inside track, we spoke to Filita Travel founder Anastasia Antonopoulou about her favourite places to stay off the beaten track, from Athens to the Peloponnese via Andros.
Every Greek odyssey should start off in Athens. As tempting as it is to jump straight on a ferry out to its many and beguiling islands, stay put in the city for a couple of days. Soak up its ancient history and feel its new cultural vibrations, get lost in its streets and explore its vibrant neighbourhoods. Eat, drink and dance your way through modern Athens.
- Perianth ‘A design hotel featuring modern art from contemporary Greek artists, he Perianth boasts a super location in the heart of Athens. Rooms are really spacious and the penthouse has the most incredible view of the Acropolis.’
- Milos ‘A gorgeous new hotel from the American group behind the famed estatorios of the same name. As well as a superb central location, the food is excellent — but it’s only their first year so expect some teething issues.’
Verdant, hilly and handsome, Andros is still relatively unknown compared to its Cycladic neighbour Mykonos. The preserve of Greek shipping dynasties for decades, its illustrious past is evident in its impressive Chora which juts imposingly out to sea, surrounded by beautiful Neoclassical mansions. Low-key and quietly stylish, it has fantastic, often empty beaches and a characterful interior ripe for exploring.
- Ktima Lemonies ‘People LOVE this property. It’s secluded, simple and you can experience Greek hospitality at its purest from the owner Nelly who has poured her heart and soul into it — think Nausika of Skinopi Lodge on Milos, but on Andros. It’s very popular with well-travelled Americans who want to fly under the radar, plus creative consultant Lucy Williams got married here this summer so it’s been all over Vogue UK & the foreign press.’
A short ferry ride from Andros, you’ll find an island which flies even more under the radar: Tinos. Known as a place of religious pilgrimage, Tinos’ wild landscape is peppered with traditional villages, a growing number of vineyards and a buzzing food scene for those in the know.
- Under The Sun ‘Set between the picturesque villages of Kardiani and Isternia in Exo Merio, Under The Sun is worth staying at for the spectacular views alone — you’ll feel like you’re sleeping up in the skies.’
- The Detailor House ‘A gorgeous four bedroom villa, also near Kardiana, this Airbnb nails laid-back, outdoor living. Designed in sympathy with traditional Cycladic architecture, this tranquil gem has mesmerising views across to Mykonos and Syros.’
- Xinara House ‘Painstakingly restored from a former bishop’s home in the heart of a rural village, Xinara House is two adjoining villas and a design lover’s delight. But go outside and you’ll really marvel. Terraced gardens sit under the gaze of a mountain, a vineyard has been planted to produce rosé and a shaded pergola begs for long lunches with friends.’
A tiny volcanic island off the northeastern coast of the more well trodden Milos, Kimolos is much sleepier with a family-run vibe. Multi-coloured fishermen’s houses hug the coast and there are plenty of secret beaches to explore — ideally by boat.
- The Windmill ‘A mid-19th century windmill has been faithfully restored and converted into a chic boutique hotel on Kimolos. It’s super intimate, its bar shakes a great cocktail and it all feels very off-the-beaten-track.’
- Kimolia Gi ‘At Kimoli G, I love the Small House on the Beach — perfect for the laid-back traveller.’
Known as the cradle of Greek cooking, Sifnos is the foodie’s island. It also has a strong pottery tradition, wonderful hikes and more churches than there are days of the year. Chic Athenians love spending a weekend in its lively towns and villages — especially Apollonia and Artemonas.
- Nos ‘Timeless and tranquil, this is a design-led hideaway that feels very much like a reflection of the island itself. It’s also near one of the island’s best swimming spots, the Monastery of Chrisopigi, and under-the-radar Faros & Fassalou beaches, where locals flock to avoid the summer crowds..
Part of the Dodecanese archipelago of islands, diminutive Astypalea offers a glimpse of a life of old, where time passes more slowly and the pace is gentle. Despite being a short flight from Athens, it’s remained wonderfully free of the summer swarms of tourists. The whitewashed houses of its Chora winds up a steep hill, with a Venetian castle sitting at its peak like a cake topper.
- Saluti Da Stampalia ‘These stylish suites sit above Livadi Beach and their terraces look out across to the island’s beautiful Chora. Make sure to rent a boat and explore the island known as the ‘Butterfly of the Aegean’.
- Pylaia Boutique Hotel ‘The staff here are so lovely and hospitable, it feels very authentic. Go for one of the more luxurious options and make sure you get up early enough for breakfast, it’s terrific!’
Symi is almost unbelievably picturesque, with a postcard-perfect horseshoe-shaped port in Little Symi and pastel-hued neoclassical mansions that have won over the chic French and Italian set. The most charming thing about Symi is that you won’t need a car: most of the beaches can only be reached by boat or on foot.
- The Old Markets Englishman Andrew Davies has lovingly created a small hotel out of the ruins of Symi’s old market where sponges and spices were traded during the 19th century. You’ll love its peaceful courtyard and homely, yet elegant feeling.
- Hotel 1900 Check into Hotel 1900, set in a 19th century beauty right on the waterfront that is mostly just as it was. Drinks on the terrace (served yourself from the honesty bar) overlooking the harbour are the absolute highlight.
A peninsular in southern Greece, the Peloponnese is known as the playground of the Gods and yet it’s still largely off the tourist track. Filled with ancient sites and cultural riches, there is so much to discover in this area of the Greek mainland that is also home to magnificent landscape, from mountains to forests and beaches.
- Dexamenes At Dexamenes, tradition and modernity combine: an 1920s old winery has been transformed into an eco-luxury hotel on the western Peloponnese coast. For wine and design aficionados thinking outside the box, staying in a former industrial wine tank couldn’t be more apt.
- Tainaron Blue This hotel’s architect owners created three guest rooms from a 200-year-old stone tower house. It’s super peaceful and very romantic if you’re looking to explore this wild, historical area — and get to know traditional Maniot cuisine.
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