Best Hotels in Athens for Christmas

Whether you’re a local Athenian looking to spoil yourself with a luxurious weekend in your home city or an international visitor wishing to experience the best the capital has to offer, those seeking a festive hotel stay for Christmas in Athens are spoiled for choice.

To help you plan your winter trip to Athens, we’ve curated a list of the best festive hotels that have gone above and beyond to make it a Christmas to remember.

Expect decadent feasts, wonderfully extravagant decorations, soothing melodies, and plenty of champagne upon arrival! 

Hotel Grande Bretagne 

Fancy spending Christmas right in the heart of Athens? Hotel Grande Bretagne allows guests to celebrate many magical experiences inside its hotel, and you are only footsteps away from the festive events taking place around the city! From the majestic 7-metre-tall Christmas tree in the glamorous lobby to the timeless crystal ornaments that adorn every space within and around the hotel- this is one of the best places to stay. Enjoy special menus in the hotel’s award-winning restaurants and bars for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day – where you can expect to find fine caviar, live jazz performances, as well as the most enchanting ambience accompanied by breathtaking views and the sparkling lights of the city below. And with the exclusive King George Perfumery and GB Store downstairs – you don’t need to go far to spoil loved ones (or yourself)!

A: 1 Vasileos Georgiou A, Syntagma Square 

Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens 

Offering a calming oasis away from the buzzing city, Four Seasons Astir Palace, located in Athens Riviera promises a delightful stay during this time of year. From a signature winter wonderland at Avra bar to special festive crafts and activities for kids to take part in every day, plus the charming and thoughtful gifts available at the boutique store- there’s no need for anyone to leave the hotel to feel the Christmas magic in the air. Guests can also spoil themselves with a relaxing spa treatment and savor some of the most exquisite dishes and traditional sweets at one of the many fabulous restaurants found right here. 

A: Apollonos 40, Vouliagmeni 

The Dolli

Indulge in the “Jolly Dolli” spirit by celebrating Christmas with the iconic Acropolis hovering just overhead, while also enjoying the all-day dazzling festivities that have been put together for each guest. The hotel’s first Christmas includes tailored handmade adornments, whimsical surprises and the scent of Christmas treats that transform The Dolli into a welcoming wonderland. The festive agenda also features a distinct range of dinners and drinks with stunning panoramic views and music, a delightful afternoon tea, and a standout weekend brunch infused with a festive spirit.

A: Mitropoleos 49, Athens

Athens Capital Hotel

Experience the joy of the season at the Athens Capital Hotel, located in the centre of the city. Here you can immerse yourself in the festive atmosphere, adorned with unique decorations and the breathtaking panoramic view of the illuminated Acropolis. The hotel’s award-winning chef Boutsalis Dimitris invites guests to savor the magic of the Réveillon extravaganza on Christmas Eve, a Réveillon de Noel – a delightful Christmas lunch, and you can also welcome the New Year in glamorous style at the dazzling New Year’s Réveillon.

A: 4 Eleftheriou Venizelou Avenue & 2 Kriezotou, Syntagma Square Street, Athens

Gatsby Athens  

Another hotel promising to bring the magic of Christmas to life is the Gatsby Athens. Featuring live musical performances each night, as well as a delightful seasonal menu that is inspired by this special time of year- guests will feel warm, cozy and festive from morning till late evening. It’s the perfect place if you are looking to finish your Christmas shopping or experience the magic of Christmas in the centre of the capital, as luxury boutiques and lively events are right at your doorstep. 

A: Lekka 18, Athens

Main image Courtesy of Hotel Grande Bretagne

Hotel Review: Mona Athens, Raw Luxury and Delicate Details

Hotel Review Mona Athens

Tucked into a gritty alley in the downtown Athens neighbourhood of Psyrri, sits Mona Athens boutique hotel: a sanctuary for the senses just moments away from buzzing Monastiraki Square. 

The lowdown

Housed in a building from the 1950s that has been preserved with great love and creativity, Mona Athens is the ideal spot for those who seek a unique stay and want to be among the bustle of downtown Athens. 

Details

The delicate details throughout Mona Athens are in contrast to the underground feel of its street-level surrounds. The plush yet industrial touches you see in the rooms and common spaces are custom, hand-made, or recycled from found materials and made by the hotel’s design studio House of Shila. Many of the items on display are also available for purchase. 

Rooms

The hotel has 20 rooms of different sizes that each embody a raw sense of luxury in their own way. The openness of the rooms reflects the hotel’s philosophy of surrender and freedom. The bath area in particular, which includes a large bathtub, has an open design with sheer draping (heavy velvet curtains make for room separators when privacy is needed). Boasting comforts like raw cotton sheets and ultra-comfortable low, natural mattresses treated with olive oil, there’s also fresh coffee beans, loose-leaf tea and a minibar filled with gourmet Greek products making guests feel right at home. Room types include the Intimate, Velvet, Floret, Amour, Penthouse and Mona suites, sleeping 2-4 people.

Food + Drinks

The breakfast room on the ground level is a peaceful communal space that resembles an industrial living room surrounded by exquisite design pieces. The Levantine-inspired breakfast includes savoury and sweet options, such as eggs, a selection of mouthwatering spreads served with sourdough bread, yogurt bowl and pancakes. Your morning coffee and choice of food can also be enjoyed in the comfort of the rooms or on the rooftop. Also good to note, room service is available throughout the day.

Extras touches

When Mona’s rooftop isn’t playing host to art and book launches or supper club events, it makes for a stylish spot to unwind while serving yourself from the Honest Bar which runs on an honour system. A selection of hand-picked natural wines is a highlight. 

Mona’s reception and concierge services are accessed via a tablet placed in each room. Here, you can also find information about additional services that can be arranged for guests like personal training sessions, massage treatments and laundry services. 

What’s close-by

Almost everything! Being a few minutes walk from Monastiraki Square means that you’ll be moments from the Monastiraki Flea Market, the historical district of Plaka and walking distance to the Acropolis, along with great bars, cafes and restaurants just a stone’s throw away. Also worth mentioning is the close proximity to the metro line that takes you to both the Airport and Piraeus port. 

Highlight of stay

While there’s no shortage of accommodation options in downtown Athens, it’s the cool, considered details that make Mona Athens stand out from the pack.  

Perfect for

Trendy couples and 30 to 40-something travellers who want to indulge in a feeling of sensuality and comfort while in the heart of downtown Athens.

Accommodation type: Boutique hotel 

Location: Kakourgodikiou 4, Athens

Athens’ Hottest New Hotel Openings of 2023

We take a look at some of the hottest new hotel openings of 2023 to give you some exciting options for your next visit to Athens! 

Whether you’re popping into the capital for an overnight stay, or you’re planning on spending days exploring the city, Athens has loads of chic new hotels to choose from. Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favourites! 

THE DOLLI AT ACROPOLIS 

Insights Greece - Athens' Hottest New Hotel Openings of 2023

This stunning new 5-star boutique hotel is housed in one of the most iconic 1925 neoclassical buildings in Athens and the best part is, it’s only a few steps away from the Acropolis. The elegantly designed guestrooms consist of a wonderful selection of rooms and apartments, and there’s also an infinity pool, private spa, gym and rooftop restaurant with breathtaking views of the city. 

A: Mitropoleos 49, Athens 

THE SOCIAL ATHENS  

Insights Greece - Athens' Hottest New Hotel Openings of 2023

Set in Athens’ fashionable Kolonaki neighbourhood, this newly opened hotel features 24 stylish rooms (some with views of Lycabettus Hill), as well as a fine dining restaurant, a hotel bar and a fitness centre with a fully equipped gym. Conveniently located, from here you can walk to nearby boutiques, restaurants and cafés. 

A: Voukourestiou 30, Athens

DUSIT SUITES GLYFADA

Insights Greece - Athens' Hottest New Hotel Openings of 2023

Located in the glamourous Glyfada neighbourhood on the Athens Riviera, this new hotel is situated near a sandy beach and offers 36 elegantly designed suites with stunning views of either the sea and the Saronic Gulf, or the mountain and city lights. Here, guests can treat themselves at the Namm Spa, swim in the infinity pool, or dine at the Mediterranean rooftop restaurant and bar. 

A: Pandoras 3, Glyfada

ONE & ONLY AESTHESIS 

Insights Greece - Athens' Hottest New Hotel Openings of 2023

Getting ready to open its doors in October 2023, this new boutique hotel is also set in the Glyfada neighbourhood and features over 100 private rooms, breathtaking suites, and private villas designed to highlight the beauty of the Athens Riviera. With an ode to both ancient and modern Athens, the hotel also features a spa and restaurants on-site, where guests can indulge in authentic Greek flavours made from locally sourced produce. 

A: Leof. Poseidonos, Glyfada

THE LEKKA HOTEL & SPA 

Insights Greece - Athens' Hottest New Hotel Openings of 2023

Perfectly situated in the historic centre of Athens, this newly opened hotel is close to Plaka, Monastiraki and Syntagma. Featuring 53 rooms, there is also a full-service spa, where guests can enjoy a massage or mud therapy, as well as an open-air terrace so you can enjoy a craft cocktail while taking in the panoramic city views. 

A: Lekka 31, Athens

APOLLO PALM HOTEL

Insights Greece - Athens' Hottest New Hotel Openings of 2023

Set in the colourful and lively Psyrri neighbourhood, this cool new hotel features 48 sun-filled bedrooms with sleek retro décor. There is also a lush tropical garden, where guests can gather under the shadow of a half-century-old palm tree to unwind, as well as a stylish rooftop that offers amazing Acropolis and city views! 

A: Kranaou 3, Athens 

5 Amazing Greek Island Villas to Stay at in Autumn

From Tinos to Santorini and Corfu to Crete, we’ve rounded up some of our favourite Greek villas to stay at during Autumn.

Fall is one of the best seasons to visit Greece, as with harvest comes some of the best food festivals, local markets, and restaurants that take pride in highlighting the delicious seasonal produce on offer. Now’s the time you’ll also find fewer crowds, giving visitors a fantastic opportunity to experience the Greek islands’ cultural, historical, and gastronomic charms.

These fresher days are when it’s ideal to have a cozy and welcoming villa to call home. So, here are our top picks across the Greek islands for an unforgettable stay this autumn!

1.

Tinos

Insights Greece - 5 Amazing Greek Island Villas to Stay at in Autumn

Known for being a foodie’s paradise, Tinos is one of the best Greek islands to visit during Autumn, as you can go on some awesome hikes and also find some amazing wineries that deserve to be explored. And this architectural oasis in Volax, is the perfect place to stay, as it’s a one-of-a-kind holiday home that is truly warm and inviting. Built carefully into the magnificent boulders that make Volax so unique, the spacious and airy 3-bedroom home is cleverly laid out with an internal garden and wide glass doors, making guests feel close to nature both day and night.

Sleeps 6 | Bedrooms 3 | Bathrooms 2 

2.

Corfu

Insights Greece - 5 Amazing Greek Island Villas to Stay at in Autumn

With a charming Venetian Old Town, great local museums and markets, and a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Corfu is an ideal place for a getaway this time of year. And boasting a stunning sea view position in one of Corfu’s most sought-after areas, Iola is one of the top luxury villas available for rent in the Ionian Islands. Featuring an exquisite design, superior fittings and finishings, and stylish designer furnishings; its array of high-spec amenities, including a cinema room, a sauna, a gym and an infinity pool, guarantees you won’t want to leave!

Sleeps 10 | Bedrooms 5 | Bathrooms 6

3.

Santorini

Insights Greece - 5 Amazing Greek Island Villas to Stay at in Autumn

Greece’s most romantic island is as grand as ever in Autumn, so if you want to catch the magical sunset and the fall moon rising over this beautiful Cycladic isle, this is the best time to visit! With amazing hiking, wineries and restaurants open till the end of November, this  3- bedroom villa is the perfect place to come back to after a long day of exploring. Boasting classic Santorini architecture and breathtaking caldera views, this cliffside home with an infinity pool and terrace will make your time here all the more memorable.

Sleeps 6 | Bedrooms 3 | Bathrooms 3

4.

Rhodes

Insights Greece - 5 Amazing Greek Island Villas to Stay at in Autumn

The largest island of the Dodecanese, Rhodes is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the medieval Old Town, which has been declared a World Heritage Site. With its impressive castle, fortifications and cobbled streets, Rhodes’ beautiful historic sites are best enjoyed out of peak season. And only a 15-minute drive from the Old Town, you’ll find this well-decorated bungalow that offers a lovely getaway for a holiday among friends or a small family. With a pool, BBQ area, and hammock, this is the kind of place you can easily come back to and totally unwind after a busy day sightseeing!

Sleeps 4 | Bedrooms 2 | Bathrooms 1

5.

Crete

Insights Greece - 5 Amazing Greek Island Villas to Stay at in Autumn

The temperatures in Crete are never too cold, and beautiful autumn days are filled with sunny afternoons allowing you the chance for a swim until the end of November. And what better place to stay than this beautiful beachfront villa with stunning sea views, that’s only a few minutes walk to the local shops and restaurants! Featuring clean and modern finishes, this stunning abode also boasts an outdoor swimming pool with a jacuzzi.

Sleeps 10 | Bedrooms 5 | Bathrooms 5

Featured Image | Volax by Aegean Dream Bnb

Hotel Review: MonAsty Thessaloniki

Set in a perfect location, exquisitely designed MonAsty Thessaloniki introduces guests to a sophisticated take on Byzantine hospitality.

The lowdown

The first luxury hotel in Marriott Bonvoy’s Autograph collection, MonAsty is an urban oasis offering sophisticated hospitality and unique design very much inspired by Thessaloniki’s Byzantine heritage. 

Insights Greece - Hotel Review: MonAsty Thessaloniki

Details

MonAsty hotel has managed to bring the magnificence of Thessaloniki’s Byzantine heritage to today’s way of living. This theme is carried through aesthetic touches that are found in every inch of the hotel, its facilities and rooms, and includes a blend of art installations created by local artisans that have used a range of stunning materials such as traditional silks. 

Rooms

The hotel’s 100 rooms are rich with elegant decoration and Byzantine design details (the arched doorways are a signature theme). The Classic, Twin, Superior and Deluxe rooms cater for groups of up to 3 or 4 while the Junior and Executive suites are designed as a spacious haven for sophisticated travellers visiting the city for work or rest. 

Insights Greece - Hotel Review: MonAsty Thessaloniki

Food + Drinks

Botargo restaurant, located on the ground floor of the hotel, offers monastic culinary traditions, with dishes once savoured by Byzantine emperors and monks. 

Samite, the hotel’s all-day gastro bar, offers fusion bites and a fine selection of wines and liqueurs.

Finally, the rooftop bar Ennea is an idyllic spot for enjoying a sweeping view of the city.

Note: Guests can opt to enjoy the breakfast experience. 

Extra touches

By way of extras, MonAsty has a fully equipped, modern gym. Guests can also enjoy a swim in the pool in the summer months.

What’s close by

MonAsty is centrally located close to all that Thessaloniki has to offer. Major sights like Aristotelous Square and the White Tower of Thessaloniki are within walking distance and the newly renovated and reopened Agora Modiano is a stone’s throw away. 

Highlight of stay

The detailed design touches and sophisticated ambience of the hotel and rooms set it apart from other stays available within the city centre. Although Thessaloniki is a city with so much to explore, you’ll look forward to coming back to your room for some rest and relaxation. 

Why I’d come back…

To put it simply, the location is hard to beat. MonAsty is close walking distance to all the places you’ll want to visit but removed enough to remain a quiet sanctuary.  

Perfect for… 

Singles, couples and small groups who want an extra touch of design aesthetic while being centrally located. 

Accommodation type:  Luxury 

Location: 45, Vasileos Irakleiou Street, Thessaloniki 

Stylish Escape at Meli Suites

Imagine for a moment that you are soaking in the warm rays of the Greek sun in your own private swimming pool overlooking the sea. It feels nourishing and healing- as all your aches and pains just fade away. Welcome to Meli Suites in Skala Potamia, a little piece of paradise!

We visited the Meli Suites Isle before and loved every single bit of our stay. Having chatted with the staff it sounded like we shouldn’t leave the island without taking a look at the Meli Suites, the original hotel of the Meli Suites hotel collection.

Meli Suites is mainly comprised of stylish suites embracing a mixture of Scandinavian and Aegean architecture with private swimming pools and sea views. Inside the suites, the luxury brief is taken seriously with eye-popping decor and details that recall the famous, white-washed Cycladic islands.

Lavish interiors aside, Meli Suites is located in Skala Potamias centre, right next to the busy seafront with a number of bars and restaurants, making it the perfect launchpad for exploring the village on foot. It didn’t take much to persuade my husband that we had to extend our stay on the island. Thankfully, the idea was equally appealing to him, too.

We stayed at the Superior Suite and our time here can only be described as indelible!

With a private balcony that featured our very own swimming pool, big, comfy sunbeds and spectacular sea views, we didn’t see any need to leave the hotel and travel further afield. In the morning, we would indulge in our homemade breakfast by the main swimming pool, then sunbathe on our private balcony and would only leave to take a quick dip in the sea before lunch. At night, we would drop into one of the seafront bars and enjoy a cocktail while gazing at the sea.

But enough with the words, let the pictures speak for themselves!

If you are thinking of visiting the verdant green island of Thassos, then Skala Potamia is a good place to start. From here you can embark on daily trips to the nearby villages of Panagia and Limenaria, and explore beaches like the Giola Lagoon with its crystal emerald waters. Beyond this, Meli Suites is the most luxurious and stylish hotel in the area so book your stay in one of their luxurious suites and let the positive vibes of this unique hotel work wonders for your mind and body.

Images by: Alexandros Iconomidis ©
Architecture design: BMMB Architects 

Staying at Meli Suites Isle in Thassos

If you are after a chic yet private, honeymoon-style sanctuary in Thassos, Meli Suites Isle, the latest hotel of the Meli Suites collection in Skala Potamia, offers an elegant, relaxing and stylish stay for loved-up couples. 

The striking architecture of Meli Suites Isle is the first thing you notice when walking through the stone-built entry. Picture scattered olive trees, beige sandstone walls, rattan hanging chairs and outdoor raffia roofing all intertwined with one big swimming pool – the focal point of the entire space.

But it’s not just a swimming pool! Just as ‘meli‘ (honey) is the ingredient that makes any Greek breakfast special, respectively, this swimming pool is the ‘meli‘ that makes this place so distinctive- as it effortlessly connects the rooms – with each suite having its own access to the water. 

The concept is not only unique but it also contributes to the harmony of Meli Suite’s design.

“It takes an architectural genius to build a place like this,” is what another guest said while we enjoyed our breakfast by the pool one morning.

Then, you get to know that the owner, Stelios Nikoloudis, who is a London-based civil engineer with a keen eye for textures and materials.

The isle in the middle of the swimming pool with its growing olive tree, the brilliant marriage between all the textures and natural materials – plus the painstaking attention to detail is what makes Meli Suites so special. 

With three rooms and eight suites all individually styled and named after their unique features – we stayed in the Arch Room, where every morning felt like we were waking up in paradise. Featuring views of the serene pool, the swim-up private deck allows guests direct access to the water right by the bedroom suite.  

Having breakfast by the pool was another unique experience, with owner, Yianna being the epitome of Greek hospitality. Not only does she serve a homemade breakfast, she also makes recommendations for places to visit on the island, and shares local secrets, including how to find the most gorgeous beaches.

We tried the floating breakfast on our last day in the hotel and it was the ultimate luxury! Presented on a large tray complete with homemade Greek pastries, freshly squeezed juices, and eggs- it was the best start to our day and something to remember.

There are plenty of spaces to stay in Skala Potamias but Meli Suites Isle is most certainly our favourite. Not only will you fall in love with the impeccable design and architecture – but you will also be blown away by their warm hospitality. Book your stay at the Deluxe Suite with a bathtub now and you can thank me later.

Images by: Alexandros Iconomidis ©
Architecture design: BMMB Architects 

Marbella Elix, a Stunning New Luxury Resort

It is easy to see why Marbella Elix is popular with discerning families who look for fun and convenience. Calm, modern design rooms peer over dense olive groves and azure waters- a place to stow away and let off steam. This is most certainly Epirus’ best-kept secret!

Shy of the beautiful town of Parga, Marbella Elix is a luxury hotel where relaxation and tranquillity acquire a whole new meaning, where all-inclusive does not confuse abundance with quality and where food is seasonally sourced and cooked. It is no surprise after all that Marbella Elix was included in Condé Nast Traveller’s 2022 Hot List!

Style & Feel

Amphitheatrically built and perched on a hill by Karavostasi beach, Marbella Elix visitors are amazed by the big glass walls and sea views once entering the lobby. “Blue as far as the eye can see” is what everyone kept saying to each other whilst the concierge took care of our luggage.

The lobby lounge has a laid-back feeling that makes you want to spend your evening gazing into the deep blue water. It works overtime as a cafe and bar and does a pretty good job of calming you down especially if you have travelled all day long. The interior decor is a well-matched mix of local traditional elements and Moroccan features- think of big armchairs, wooden tables, metal lanterns with an antiqued bronze finish and soothing neutral beach colours, it sold me!

Rooms

I’ve expressed my love for the Marbella Collection 5-star hotels many times in the past. I had the pleasure of staying at the Marbella Corfu and I have also visited the Nido Suites but this was the first time I stayed at the Marbella Elix and from the first glance I could tell that the same quality and attention to detail applied here, too.

Tall handmade headboard? Check. Contemporary details mixed with classic features? Check. Impeccable interior decoration? Check. Big rainfall shower? Check. Coupled with a big balcony, comfy sunloungers and a big glass deck railing to make the most of the breathtaking sea views and views to the islands of Corfu, Paxos, and Antipaxos, it was difficult not to fall in love with the place.

I loved every detail, from the cushions in the living room to the natural variations in the grain and colour of the wooden wardrobe! 

There are multiple rooms- some have their private swimming pools others are closer to the beach. Our room was next to the swimming pool and Indigo bar, as soon as we checked in we took a stroll around before ending up in the baby swimming pool with our little M practising her swimming moves.

Food

I have already waxed lyrical about the food at Marbella Elix; it is freshly cooked with locally sourced ingredients and caters for all tastes and preferences. There is a little fine dining corner for those who seek luxury and then there’s Greek food, seafood and special dietary requirements food catering to vegans and people with intolerances. And by vegan food, I mean spinach risotto and vegetable moussaka, not just fries and boiled veggies.

Those with a sweet tooth wouldn’t be left unsatisfied either. Marbella Elix has a magnificent selection of desserts you must save room for; from perfectly baked Greek sweet pies to white chocolate mousse and mocha pots de creme, it was nearly impossible not to try at least two different puddings at a time.

Decadent, rich, full of flavours, a proper feast for the eyes!

To top the dining experience off, the hotel offers a culinary series called Greek Chefs Abroad where, as the name suggests, Greek Chefs from abroad cook for the hotel’s guests giving them the chance to taste menus they wouldn’t have the opportunity to do so otherwise.

Facilities

The beautiful beach of Karavostasi unfolding below the hotel is easily reached by the funicular railway, making access to the sea easier if you have mobility issues or if you are carrying a baby stroller around like myself. But if you are more of a swimming pool type, the infinity pool at the Indigo bar will no doubt have you smitten with its striped bean bag sunloungers, sea views and calming scenery.

Into sports and outdoor activities? Then, go trekking in the pine forest hills surrounding the hotel or go kayaking in the colling waters of the Ionian Sea. Into relaxation and mindfulness? Visit the spa, join one of the yoga classes at the gym or, even better, follow one of the Digi Detox Activities! Looking for kids’ activities? Let your kids join “The Grasshoppers” Kids Club  & Creche. Supervised and cared for by multilingual childcare professionals this club offers activities for those between four months and 12 years, letting the parents the time to soak up the sun by the pool and enjoy the serenity of their private balcony.

Marbella Elix is truly a place that caters to everyone’s liking!

Until now, I had the softest spot for Marbella Corfu, but I think I’ve found a Marbella Collection hotel that’s taken over the top spot! We had the most wonderful time at Marbella Elix and I cannot wait to return back soon.

The post-lockdown Greek tourism explosion is real so if any of you reading this are thinking of a last-minute holiday in Greece, this is the time to do it or book your trip for next summer – any excuse to start planning your next adventure, right?

Images by Anastasia Fountouli ©

Traditional Accommodation in Zagora

Platitudes and every travel cliché in the book have been used to describe holidaying in Pelion – sun, sea, lush greenery – but the thing that you have to keep in mind when it comes to it is that in Pelion there is an array of traditional accommodation stays that allow you to fully immerse yourself in an authentic Greek cultural experience. Here’s one such accommodation we recently stayed at – Victoria’s Country Apartments in Zagora!

Decades from now, my daughter will ask in awe ‘Did we really go on holiday in Pelion when I was 7 months old?’, to which the only response is ‘Yes, we drove several hours until we reached the beautiful village of Zagora in East Pelion and received the most heartwarming welcome from our hostess Victoria who made our trip unforgettable in so many ways!’. Then, I will proceed by showing her some pictures of our room.

There are eight spacious, two-bedroom apartments, all of them designed uniquely with treehouse beds and traditional stone-built walls by Victoria herself. We stayed at the Peacock – a large room on the first floor with a big wooden bed that was surrounded by colourful hand-painted peacocks on the walls. We had a wooden Greek-style kitchenette (where I prepared my daughter’s breakfast every morning), a sitting area, a Moroccan-style bathroom with in-build shower and spectacular tiles, and a balcony with a stunning view overlooking the Aegean!

Every morning Victoria would wake up early to prepare and serve us a feast for the eyes kind of breakfast with no two breakfasts alike regardless of how many days we stayed in her traditional accommodation. 

Our options would vary from traditional Greek phyllo pies with fillings from Victoria’s organic vegetable patch, omelettes, fruit salads, pancakes, Greek yogurt with plums and cherries and freshly squeezed orange juice accompanied by the standard tea and coffee. We would sit on the balcony and have small sips of the coffee while devouring the omelettes and nibbling on the pies and pancakes. All while taking in the sea and mountain views with the sound of birds chirping in the background. 

But what makes Victoria’s room so special is not just that, foregoing the beautiful, clean rooms and delicious food, and taking part in the local activities will make for an altogether richer and more rewarding holiday in Zagora.

Luckily, Victoria’s daughter, Kiki, is happy to show you around the most well-sought places to explore, connect you with the local travel guides and tell you about the history of the place.

From here, you can embark on the square of Zagora for a coffee or souvlaki, have a little shopping trip around Sindetiras jewellery storeIstos Pelion for traditionally woven scarves and cushions from the loom of the owner Kaiti, Gi Anatolis for souvenirs and higgledy-piggledy gifts, and the Women’s Agrotourist Cooperative of Zagora store with the delicious jams and liqueurs.Into history? Then visit the Museum of Zagora, situated a short car ride away on your way to Horefto beach. There is a parking space and the famous school where Rigas Feraios studied is just opposite the museum. Then, there’s also the Public Library of Zagora with an impressive collection of original manuscripts but you better make sure it is open before you visit.

Whatever you decide to do, I am sure you will have fun!

Handpicked Dream Holiday Homes in Tinos

The famed local cuisine, friendly locals and unspoiled wild beaches, with their pristine crystal clear waters, set the scene for a deliciously authentic vacation experience to visitors of the island Tinos, including a magnificent stay at one of Aegean Dream BnB’s serene holiday homes. 

It was love at first sight when Greek American Nikos and Australian Emma first set foot on Tinos. After traipsing the globe to find their ‘forever home’ they knew they wanted to build a life together on this beautiful island. In 2019, they also brought to life an incredible business of vacation rentals, Aegean Dream BnB where they have consistently welcomed hundreds of guests from all around the world.

With a carefully curated portfolio of villas, apartments and rooms, visitors are spoiled for choice with a collection handpicked by Emma to suit an array of interests, including design-loving groups, romance-seeking couples, and solo travellers looking for an authentic connection, whether it be in a 300-year-old village or a vibrant beach community.

Building new memories of Greece is wonderfully enhanced by unforgettable places to stay. From a Cycladic gem overlooking the water, and proximity to tavernas, or a heavenly stone retreat lovingly designed for laidback living with a spacious entertainer’s terrace and flowing open-plan interiors, visitors will be impressed by what’s on offer.

Showcasing the renowned Greek hospitality, Emma and Nikos greet all guests on arrival before accompanying them to their property, ensuring they are comfortable and settled in, as well as giving regular updates of all the activities taking place on the island throughout their stay. 

If that is not enough to entice you to Tinos, Aegean Dream BnB is also launching new experiences this year such as guided hikes to secret locations and gastronomic extravaganzas. 

We recently chatted to Emma Moroney about her love of Tinos, why it’s a must-see island and her sumptuous range of vacation rentals.

What led to you setting up a vacation rental company on the beautiful island of Tinos? 

I had worked in the television and film industry in Australia and South-East Asia, so organising and creating something from nothing is in my blood. I’m not sure which came first, my curiosity for figuring out how things work, or if over time I learned how to make things come to life out of necessity, but it seems I’ve been constantly challenging myself to learn new things from a young age and I can’t stop! Being Australian, I’ve been very privileged to live a life open to wonderment and possibility and that has propelled me to jump feet first into lots of endeavours over the years, without the fear of failure. I travelled to Japan in the nineties with one phone number in my pocket and the promise of some work and it only occurred to me when I landed in Osaka just how monumental a risk I had taken. It paid off and ultimately became one of the most defining adventures of my life and I have adopted that methodology ever since. I’ve travelled all over the world, lived in Japan, and Malaysia, volunteered in a monastery in the Himalayas, slept in 5-star hotels and on a horsehair mat in a shed – each time simply seeking the opportunity for wonder and pushing my understanding of the world a little further.  

All of these experiences, including meeting my husband Nikos, ultimately led me to Greece. This ancient enigma of a place, full of complex layers and flavours, with people who are so very deep and fascinating, makes it addictive to live here. To paraphrase Epicurus, Greece is where you’ll do well to pause and enjoy the good life. Here, your appetite will be more than satisfied, it will be quenched. Inspired by that great philosopher’s wisdom, Nikos and I decided to quit city life and search for a place to build something in touch with nature and more intentional in Greece. Our vacation rental business is just the first step in our journey towards building something meaningful on the island of Tinos, but it has been a great learning experience and has given us lots of great insight into how and why people travel.

When did you first visit Tinos and what made you decide you wanted to make this your island home?

When Nikos and I arrived in 2018 for a five-day holiday, we knew within the first few days that we wanted to make a home and start the next phase of our lives here. We’d been to other places, Nikos’ family is from the Peloponnese, but Tinos just stole our hearts from the first moment. We stayed in an amazing little Airbnb with the loveliest host I’ve ever met and everyone we came across in those five days gave us such a feeling of warmth and welcome that we just took the plunge!

Tinos has a special energy. It’s sort of indefinable but everyone you talk to, especially the foreigners who don’t have a familial history with the place, will tell you exactly the same story. They came here almost by accident and then just fell in love with the island. It’s a story that’s repeated so often you have to believe it! 

For us, it’s the unique combination of the rustic and laidback wild spaces, the historic villages and a cosmopolitan vibe borne of artists and artisans who make up the local population, as well as the countless creative people who’ve made Tinos their home.

The food here really is something beyond the already great Greek cuisine you find on most islands, and the local people have an artistic approach to everything that just makes the gastronomy sing. For example, we have a chef friend here on the island who went to Italy to comb through the gastronomic archives in Venice, held from when Tinos was under Venetian rule from 1200 – 1700. Thanks to the meticulous record-keeping of the Venetians, our friend was able to seek inspiration for his recipes of today. This commitment to culinary perfection and reverence for history is what makes this island so special.

They also know how to party!  The panagiri (festival) here is something truly special and in our first year we were lucky enough to be invited to quite a few in the winter – I think we met the whole island that first winter! Island life really relies on the panagiri to bring together people from all over the island and we of course fell in love with this beautiful custom in our first year and were pretty depressed they couldn’t happen over the two years of pandemic lockdowns… but this year they are back with gusto! Lately, it feels like there is one every night (literally right out my window now is an impromptu small panagiri at the taverna below our house!)

Tell us about Aegean Dream BnB. What makes it unique?

Aegean Dream BnB is a handpicked selection of vacation rentals we love for their relaxed vibes and unique style. Holiday homes where you just slip off your shoes and let the peaceful energy wash over you. All stylish, serene hidden gems that inspire creativity in a restful atmosphere, on the beautiful Greek island of Tinos. 

Our personal touch, combined with a high level of professionalism makes it truly unique.  Nikos and I came to Tinos as guests and we remember how it felt to discover the island for the first time so we really try and recreate that each time for our guests.  The other thing is the houses reflect my personal style. If I wouldn’t choose to stay at a place, then it’s not in our collection. I’ve always been a bit of a nomad so my style is reflective of all the places I’ve lived and the memories I’ve collected along the way. It’s a Mediterranean Modern style that’s all about stylish spaces designed to promote serenity and reflection that are connected to the natural environment in some way.

What are some of your most popular properties?

Our most popular property is the Laidback Luxe apartment in Panormos Bay, which I love for its lovely open spaces and because I was able to work with the owner/builder on the interior design. So that one’s highly reflective of my style and thankfully, people seem to love it!

This year we have a few new properties which we absolutely love and are very popular on Instagram. The Architectural Oasis in Volax is a truly one-of-a-kind holiday home designed by local star architect Aristedes Dallas. It is the epitome of the Mediterranean Modern style and is built sensitively into the magnificent boulders that make Volax so unique. The owner is Swiss and a global nomad so the home is filled with lovely treasures and his photography from all around the world. The house has Joshua Tree vibes and is a real respite from the Cycladic winds in summer thanks to the cleverly designed internal garden and its very grounding concrete structure. Architecture enthusiasts just love this one.  

There’s also a lot of Instagram and real-world love for this chic Cycladic home in our favourite mountain village Triandaros. Loaded with charm, the light-filled three-bedroom Cycladic stone house in one of Tinos’ oldest villages has been sensitively restored with original architectural details contributing to its lovely ambience. Its heavenly rooftop with panoramic sea views is just the place to end the day with a chilled rosè in hand while watching the sunset over the hills. 

What type of traveller do you have in mind when searching for holiday homes to add to your portfolio? 

I’m obsessed with interior design and the notion that we humans respond to our environment with our senses – so we think about these when we consider a new property. How will you feel when you touch, smell, taste, hear and see this new environment is important and we strive to create a sense of serenity and promote wellbeing from the moment you arrive. We tend to attract a lot of creative people, possibly a reflection of my previous career in film and television! 

Photographers, designers, architects, chefs, poets and writers have all stayed in our homes and always enjoy the details we’ve thought hard to provide to enhance our guest’s experience.  

But most importantly we love hosting thoughtful, independent travellers who are conscious of themselves and the environment. This planet we call home is fragile, and our island even more so, with each summer taking its toll on our natural resources. We hope to attract mindful travellers who respond energetically to nature’s rhythm and find the beauty in the wilder elements of Mother Nature – like the wind – and instead of rejecting the uncontrollable aspect of it, respond joyfully to the freedom it represents.

You are introducing a new range of experiences for your guests this year. Can you divulge more details? 

We are foodies, so from the first moment we arrived, we just wanted to soak up as much gastronomic information about the island as we could find. We’ve put together some wonderful experiences with our friends on the island, like Alex from Tinos Farm to Table, so guests can dive a little deeper into the Cycladic way of living. Cooking Workshops at Alex’s farmhouse outdoor kitchen are a delightful way to connect with the traditions handed down from previous generations, cook up a delicious feast of homegrown produce from Alex’s farm and finish the day around the table, family-style.

For guests of the Architectural Oasis in Volax, we offer an exclusive food and wine tasting in the villa with sommelier and Tinos Wine Tasting guru Panayiota Kalogeropoulou.  Surrounded by the incredible volcanic granite boulders that make the wine of Tinos so unique, Panayiota will guide our guests through a tasting menu designed to educate and celebrate Tinian wine and food “From the Stones to the Sea”.

We also offer guided hikes in secret locations, boat trips around the island, massages and more. You can check out our link for more inspiration.

What can you tell us about some of the new properties that will become available soon?

We are super excited to launch our new property in Arnados for this summer, Meraki House. Beautifully designed by the owner and crafted perfectly by our favourite builder Marios Armaos (who also built the Laidback Luxe in Panormos) this property perfectly embodies our ethos. The senses are immediately engaged in the most serene way and the house nestles into a lovely terraced hillside with spectacular views of the Aegean. Lazy afternoons on the huge terrace, drinking wine with meze and staring out to that big blue… honestly, that’s what a holiday on the Greek islands is all about.

What is your favourite time of the year in Tinos?

May/June is hands down the best time to visit Tinos. The hills are green, with wildflowers EVERYWHERE! The restaurants, cafes and bars usually open for the season from Orthodox Easter onwards so there’s a real vibrancy in the Chora and the more populated villages like Triandaros. From about mid-May onwards, the weather starts to feel like summer with longer days, warm temperatures as high as 28 degrees and calm seas with no wind. For an island that has a reputation for strong winds, I really wish more people would come and visit during these months when the sea is so calm it takes on the feel of silky olive oil. Spring really is the best time to visit Greece!

Where are some of your favourite spots to eat, drink and swim in Tinos?

EAT: Maru Restaurant in Panormos Bay. Right by the water’s edge with peaceful views of the pretty bay and Planitis island, order the heavenly grilled octopus, the best taramosalata on the island and a half carafe of white wine and experience the truest embodiment of the good life.

DRINK: Three Donkeys in Chora. Come for the perfectly crafted cocktails, stay for the Tiki vibes, friendly staff and great tunes.

SWIM: Akri Beach Club at Apothikies Beach.

And for more, here is our online guide to Tinos.

What are a few things visitors to Tinos must do before leaving the island?

Exploring the villages and hiking the wild spaces! We love the mountain villages Triandaros and Dio Choria for the pretty marble streets, vibrant food scene, interesting hikes and panagiri. Pyrgos is also a great village for a wander and food, as is Agapi and of course the truly incredible Volax. After wandering around the lunar landscape of ancient boulders, start at the entrance of the Volax and take a leisurely stroll through whitewashed lanes with Greek poetry painted with great care onto the walls and doors. Visit the proud basket weaver Ludovico for the ultimate souvenir of your stay and end with a performance in the amphitheatre.

Aegean Dream BnB 

Images by Aegean Dream BnB & Ioanna Rouf ©

New Private Club and Luxury Apartments to Open at Ellinikon 

Lamda has just announced a new 70 million euro deal with Greek real estate investment company Orilina Properties for the Ellinikon project, which will include a private club, luxury apartments with sea views, as well as a food court and an entertainment complex. 

One of the most emblematic projects within “The Ellinikon” is the revitalisation of the Coastal Zone, encompassing as key elements the creation of the new freely accessible beachfront and a number of architectural landmarks.

In this context, Orilina Properties announced a new strategic partnership with Lamda Development, where Orilina is acquiring from Lamda two prime land plots next to the marina of Agios Kosmas.

The commercial development will consist of a private club with extensive facilities and state-of-the-art restaurants, as well as a wine and spirits retail store and bar by the marina, which will be accessible to the public and is to offer an impressive range of wines from around the world.

The prime residential development will feature exclusive sea view apartment units, which will be branded and serviced by the club, as the apartment buyers will automatically acquire a life club membership and be able to “indulge, unwind and socialise in the vibrant atmosphere of the club,” according to the press statement.

The development of an estimated budget of €70million will conform to the highest green and energy-efficient standards and will be designed by the prominent global architectural firm Kengo Kuma & Associates, who is also designing the Riviera Galleria constructed by Lamda in the neighbouring area, thus ensuring in this prominent position next to the marina of Agios Kosmas, a unified coastal front of high caliber, and an important addition to the architectural landmarks of the area.

This article was first published here 

For more Real Estate News & Views on Greece and Europe’s South, head to The Greek Guru

*Image courtesy of Lamdadev 

Charming Holiday Villa on Antipaxos Island

With breathtaking views of the nearby vineyards on one side and the dreamy turquoise coastline on the other- this charming holiday villa on Antipaxos offers guests a peaceful getaway, even in the middle of the peak summer season. 

Located in Iremia on the tiny 4km-long island of Antipaxos, an oasis of serenity and tranquillity, here you can just sit back, unwind and take in the majestic scenery. 

The main entrance of the villa flows onto a large open-plan sitting, dining and kitchen area, featuring cozy sofas and armchairs; plus a large farmhouse table, where guests can enjoy their breakfast, lunch, or evening meals together. 

Featuring lofty wood-beamed ceilings and panoramic French windows, the chic villa has two bedrooms, a double with en-suite, and views of the gardens and countryside; and a double-twin with adjacent shower room. 

Outside is a complete sanctuary- with an organic vegetable garden, surrounding vineyards and the enchanting coastline and sea- allowing guests to feel as though they are staying on a little piece of paradise. 

Visitors can make the most of the alfresco living and dining area, as well as a shaded terrace fitted out for lounging and relaxation- as they soak in views of the sea, the Greek mainland, and the cliffs of southwest Corfu. 

A few steps down from the terrace, you are greeted by a curvaceous pool and a covered outdoor kitchen and dining area, with a barbecue and a wood-fired oven; perfect for those that enjoy cooking grilled seafood or homemade pizza. 

This simple yet elegant holiday villa, which accommodates up to four people, is perfect for anyone searching for a way to take a step back from the daily grind; while enjoying a slower lifestyle by the Mediterranean Sea. 

Images Courtesy of The Thinking Traveller