Greece is a dynamic and fascinating place through and through: from cool, ancient Athens to the world-famous Santorini and Mykonos, and all the thousands of years of history in-between. Whether a family vacation, spent trekking through prehistoric ruins in Peloponnese, a romantic getaway, happily wasted under the radiant sun on Crete, or a winter retreat, spent holed up in Greece’s mountains, design hotels have elegantly located the meeting point of luxury and style, promising to provide nothing but pristine interiors and a chicness that reflects the country’s spirit of innovation.
Where to stay at a design hotel in Greece? Greece’s favorite places at a glance:
Athens: Greece’s ancient capital
From cutting-edge contemporary art to the 2,500-year-old Acropolis, Athens sparkles with an energy unlike anywhere else. Long loved for having some of the most delicious cuisine in the world, a bustling cityscape, and an unfathomably long history, the capital of Greece beams with a youthful spirit while evoking the rich memory of an era long past. A design hotel places you right in the action, within trendy interiors that reflect the lively energy of the city. In a lavish terrace with built-in jacuzzi, take in stunning views of the city’s jagged skyline. After the obligatory visit to the Acropolis and the Temple of Poseidon, spend an afternoon meandering one of the oldest continuously-inhabited neighborhoods in the world, Plaka. If you’re visiting in the summer months, the city offers open-air cinemas at many different venues, which are a great way to center yourself within this mind-blowing place. The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens promises to get you talking, boasting an always evolving suite of work in an old brewery. As for nightlife in Athens, the city has a reputation for hosting longs nights of ouzo-drinking and mezza-plate-snacking, while boasting a wonderful fusion of sophisticated bar-hopping and fun club nights.
Santorini and Mykonos: Blue-white island bliss
Unless you’ve been to Santorini or Mykonos before, they promise to be unlike any place you’ve ever seen: white-washed towns looking over the bright-blue sea, blue-capped churches perched on steep cliffs. Santorini, the site of one of the most severe volcanic eruptions in history, is now a must-visit destination in the Aegean for admirers of unparalleled beauty, fascinating history, and island fun. Under the perennial Greek sun, this group of islands – Santorini itself being the most populated – boast underground ruins, scenic hiking trails, and top-of-the-line Greek cuisine. In the capital of Santorini, Fira, your design hotel provides an experience nothing short of enchanting, with classically Greek design concepts that surround you with the energy particular to the island. The island being quite large, opt for a cable-car ride to get between the villages with the best views. Mykonos, “The Island of the Winds”, is known and loved for its gay-friendly culture, happening nightlife, and unbeatable island views. Whether in the capital of the island with the same name, or tucked on the coast in a resort, expect pristine pools that stop only where the ocean begins, romantic walks on the arresting shoreline, and plenty of sightseeing opportunities – make sure to check out Little Venice for dinner or a cocktail, as well as the iconic Church of Panagia Paraportiani.
Crete: Beaches & history on Greece’s largest island
The largest and most populous of the Greek Islands, Crete is the once-home of the oldest civilizations in the world: the 2700-BC Minoans. Exploring this storied land, between its pink beaches and age-old fortresses, makes you feel a long way from home. A chic design hotel in the capital, Heraklion, or on the coast of the resort-lined Mirabello Bay will envelop you in the pervasive spirit of thousands of years, while situating you within the unmatched natural landscape of the Mediterranean. Your beachside design hotel will have you lounging on plushy cushions just a meter from the water, indulging in traditional cuisine on rooftop terraces, and soaking up flawlessly-curated interior design. If you can ever find it in you to step away from your oasis, the Elafonisi Beach has been deemed one of the best in the world and its pink-green tint is sure to impress. On the northwestern part of Crete’s coast, Chania comes equipped with a harbor that’s been in the works since 1320. Heraklion is home a fascinating archeological museum that sheds light on the region’s impressive past, and the Arkadi Monastery is a piece of architecture you do not want to miss; this purported artifact of the 5th century is tucked into a series of vineyards and olive trees 20 kilometers southeast of Rethymno.
Peloponnese: Inland retreat
Lined with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Peloponnese Peninsula has managed to perfect a very special fusion of natural beauty and manmade masterpieces. Greece’s southern region is imbued with the memory of prehistoric civilization in every house built into a gorge, set of ruins sprawled out over lush greenery, and bustling city just a kilometer from creepy winding caves. At a design hotel on the southern coast, take a dip in one of the 40 private pools while soaking up magical views off the shoreline. Inland, at a design hotel in one of the sleepy mountain villages like Vytina, immerse yourself in the storied landscape, tucked at the foot of Mount Mainalo. An insider tip is that these mountainous inland villages are totally stunning in the winter months; the way in which the snow interacts with the neighboring brutalist and classical-Greek architecture is something to write home about. Enjoy breakfast in your design hotel and then wander the narrow streets that wind through the ancient topography, making sure to stop at the ruined Olympic stadium, Ancient Olympia, and the archaeological site, Ancient Messini. If you have the time and the stamina, check out the series of scenic trekking trails, referred to collectively as the Menalon Trail.
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