Residents of Thessaloniki no longer need to read with envy about the boutique design hotels of other European city-break destinations in magazines such as Wallpaper*.
Thessaloniki’s long-term rise in the urban getaway travel market has brought new and more demanding customers, new ideas and new investments in hospitality.
And the coming of COVID and subsequent restrictive measures have merely inserted a parenthetical pause, not a full stop. The parenthesis will close, sooner or later.
The city that’s been praised in recent years as a surprising new destination by top international travel publications will shine again.
And its new accommodations will be there to welcome back the crowds with interesting architecture, elegant aesthetics, individual character, personalized service, and occupying niches that didn’t exist here before (from hip bed & breakfasts to poshtels).
Their strong relationships with local patrons will be there, too, with popular restaurants and bars in the lobby or on the rooftop, with all kinds of events taking place, and with an overall lively presence in their respective communities, whether it’s the city center or a particular neighborhood.
What do you say we take a walk together and get to know these havens of hospitality a little better?
Kostis Karatzas’ vision for the property he owns was to create an unpretentious space that would be a model of modern hospitality, and he succeeded.
At The Modernist, certain conventional elements we usually find in hotels have been almost entirely eliminated, in particular those associated with the reception area.
The Modernist, which opened in June 2018, is located just a few steps from Aristotelous Square in a 1920s building, renovated with great respect for the structure’s original design so as to highlight the retro charm of the building’s interior.
A feeling of intimacy dominates, as if you’ve just stepped into an old mansion. Here, design does not cover up imperfect reality; instead, it allows that reality to add to the authenticity of the experience.
Tel. (+30) 2316.009.990
Average price for a double room is €120 with breakfast. Rooms are also available under a special offer for professionals who wish to work out of the hotel while enjoying all the comforts of the establishment.
The aesthetic approach you’ll find at the hotel, an interesting mix of art deco elements and Scandinavian influences, runs throughout the building, harmoniously connecting the forty different rooms that come in four size options – small, medium, large and extra large.
All the rooms are equipped with everything that guests require, without any unnecessary clutter. WiFi connectivity is speedy and stable; the comfortable mattresses offer a sound night’s sleep; and the toiletries, specially designed for customers by the local company Physis Laboratory, offer pampering care.
Many of the objects in the rooms, such as the espresso cups by the ceramicist Giorgos Vavatsis, are handmade by local creators. These collaborations with Thessaloniki artisans help travelers explore what’s happening on the city’s crafts scene.
The charming breakfast area on the rooftop overlooking Ermou is an added bonus.
The Trilogy House
The original intention of Tolis Koubaros, the owner of Trilogy House, was to create a showroom for the furniture and design items sold by his company, 2nd Floor.
However, the financial environment in Greece in 2015 forced him to change plans. So he decided to offer a different experience to visitors of the city and, in 2017, he completed this ten-room hospitality venue, spread across two floors of a restored 1920s building.
He chose modern, aesthetically pleasing items from influential international brands such as Tom Dixon, Fritz Hansen, Moloso and Vitra to furnish the rooms of his unconventional hotel, but that wasn’t all. As someone who believes that even the smallest detail has an impact on functionality and aesthetics, Koubaros sourced quality mattresses, Marshall speakers, and organic bathroom products.
Respecting the historic look of the building, Koubaros and his team chose a look for the plumbing and electrical fixtures that is reminiscent of ‘40s America.
In the lounge areas, Stalin’s portrait on the first floor seems to be in dialogue with a picture of Jesus Christ on the second.
The front balconies feature two archaic columns and a neoclassical arch, creating an atmosphere that takes you back to the days when this elegant building was new.
Average price for a double room is €80; breakfast is not served, but coffee is available in the room. Residents are entitled to a discount at Tom Dixon Thessaloniki (6 Chrysostomou Smyrnis), partners with 2nd Floor. There’s no elevator.
Antigon Boutique Hotel
The Antigon, a five-star “urban chic” hotel which is also a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, offers something unique: in the breakfast room, visitors can view part of the ancient road known as Antigonides Street and the ruins of a house from the Roman period.
The glass floor, similar to the one in front of the Acropolis Museum in Athens, extends across a space delineated by vine-covered walls and dotted with stylish chairs and tables; diners can enjoy the feeling of “hovering” over history.
Tel. (+30) 2310.523.573
The average price of a double room is €180 with breakfast, and the hotel offers free parking. There’s an espresso machine in each room.
Antigon, which opened in August of 2018, is a far cry from an ordinary city hotel. It is housed in a listed 1931 building with balconies front and back. Simply furnished, it is decorated in earthy colors and outfitted with modern comforts that include premium amenities (from Hermès and Whites of London) and comfortable mattresses made exclusively for the hotel.
Its 38 rooms feel like urban oases where you can escape the noise and bustle of the city, even though you’re still right in the center of town.
On the top floor, there’s a large outdoor space (complete with a comfortable and discreetly placed hot tub) that overlooks the city. There, hotel residents and others can relax in the evenings with cocktails or a selection from the outstanding wine list.
To meet the needs of price-conscious travelers, Fotis Drakopoulos created a real value-for-money hotel offering affordable luxury in the center of Thessaloniki.
Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, a stay in the four-star Urban Hotel on Tsimiski Street, which opened in 2016 and belongs to the chain of the same name founded in 2011, is like a hiatus in a fantasy realm.
The bright colors of the communal spaces and avant-garde murals in the rooms tie in perfectly with the funky décor and the pop phrases that appear on the walls. Here, the aesthetics evoke a feeling of euphoria.
Tel. (+30) 2310.272.829
The average price of a double room is €90 with breakfast. The hotel offers spa services from Massage.me, featuring a variety of massage techniques as well as facial and body treatments.
At COLORS, in addition to a pleasant stay made even better by wonderfully comfortable mattresses, quality linens and amenities that turn each room into a private wellness center, you’ll also find a specialized concierge department that provides information and recommendations on all aspects of the city.
Personalized and friendly service can also be found in the Garden Bar, which operates on the ground floor of the hotel and whose entrance is located on the pedestrianized street of Aghios Minas, opposite the Jewish Museum. It is an all-day café with American influences and a layout that facilitates conviviality. You can expect comfortable seating, spacious tables accommodating larger groups, low music at all times of the day, and affordable breakfast, brunch and dinner meals.
In the neighborhood of Karavan Sarai, the location of the city’s first inns and a spot where commercial carts would congregate as early as the 15th century, The Caravan opened in early 2016.
Housed in a 1929 structure purpose-built as an inn and with a view over the Mosque of Hamza Bey (also known as Alcazar), this enterprise rewrote the city’s tourist map when it began offering bed-and-breakfast-style accommodations.
Its corner café on the ground floor, with its large sunny windows, acts as a link between travelers and locals, residents and visitors. In this charming space, decorated mainly with wooden furniture and dominated by an aesthetic reminiscent of an English drawing room, Greek breakfast is served on the antique dinnerware of the grandmother of Giorgos Kurtidis, one of the two founders.
1 Rempelou and Vamvaka
Tel. (+30) 2313.062.780
The average price for a double room is €70 with breakfast, and the hotel offers five pillow options free of charge to make your sleep as pleasant as possible.
Kurtidis and his partner, Haris Papadopoulos, created The Caravan based on an idea they’d discussed with friends in a trailer in Spain six years ago. It was from this start that The Caravan got its name and logo. Their personal dream began with the desire to create a place of hospitality.
Today, The Caravan features thirteen distinctly different rooms. The aesthetic approach serves the original aim of giving guests a warm homey feeling: blue telephones on exquisite bedside tables from the ‘60s, wooden antiques with light green detailing, colorful tiles in the bathrooms and intriguing paintings all come together in harmony to create a unique setting.
The most beautiful spot is the rooftop terrace where, on clear evenings, you can lie back in the old-fashioned chaise longues and stare at the stars.
Zeus is Loose
At the modern reception desk, we’re greeted by a white installation by Theo Franstalis depicting the hand of Xenios Zeus, god of hospitality, symbolically giving the key to guests.
In the elevator, there’s a note that those who do not wear a mask will be exiled to Tartarus, and in various parts of the building one encounters smart signs with further references to the Greek gods.
One of the main challenges of the graphic design team from Phantom that worked on the project was to bring the divine status of the gods of Olympus down to human scale. This has been done with subtlety and measured humor, so it’s not kitschy at all. It acts as a timely and somewhat cutting commentary on the uninspired decor of many accommodations while at the same time introducing the traveler to the fascinating world of Greek mythology.
“Zeus is Loose” which opened in the autumn, is Thessaloniki’s first “poshtel” (luxury hostel) and is located opposite the Church of Panaghia Chalkeon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The aim of its four owners, Penelope Miller, Nikos Tsiumas and Loukas and Costas Hatziliberiadis, is to offer quality accommodations to budget-conscious travelers, many of whom – COVID allowing – they expect to be foreign students on exchange programs.
The thirty rooms (double, quadruple and six-bed) have a bathroom each and are decorated in calming pastel colors. The public areas include a large kitchen, where cooking classes will begin in the near future. There is also a deck, and a TV and dining area.
The greatest feature might be The Nectar Distillery, the rooftop bar. Here, you can enjoy breakfast while listening to the birds chirping. The “throne” of Zeus allows you to look down over the city without having to contend with its sometimes overwhelming urban energy, from a perch that is both inside and outside at the same time.
Tel. (+30) 2311.118.713
The average price per person is €19 without breakfast. Guests are entitled to a discount at The Nectar Distillery.
Bahar Boutique Hotel
In Ano Ladadika, a neighborhood that’s come back to life over the past six years, the Bahar Boutique Hotel has been operating since the summer of 2018. It is housed in a well-preserved neoclassical building of the 1930s, a structure with a long history.
The dream of its managers, three brothers who share the last name Christakis, was to build an affordable boutique hotel with personalized services that offers its guests a pleasant and convenient stay within walking distance of the city’s main points of interest.
10 Edesis & Katouna
Tel. (+30) 2310.553.433
The average price for a double room is €90 with breakfast.
In the hotel’s sixteen rooms, they have retained many of the building’s original features, including exposed sections of the old walls and ceiling detailing, while also embracing the modern trend of “open” bathrooms – the shower, for instance, can be seen from the bed.
The toiletries are by the Greek company Zealots and the mattresses are by COCO-MAT. The warm, deep blue frames of the large windows on the ground floor and the tasteful wooden chairs with iron legs at Sebil, the hotel’s all day café-bar, combine with the outdoor light fixtures to give the exterior of the establishment a Notting Hill air.
The minimal aesthetic approach dominates the other common areas as well, while the dark yellow comfortable armchairs of the lobby fit perfectly with the burgundy-colored stools and the green desk in the reception area.