Where to stay in Greece
Hotels in Greece can vary greatly both among the islands and on the mainland, from luxury and chain hotels, to chic boutique hotels with personalised service, and those aimed at the package market complete with outdoor pools and meals all-inclusive. Booking for the high season (Jul-Aug) is essential. The highest concentrations of 4-star and 5-star hotels are to be found in Athens and on the islands of Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes and Crete. Hotels are graded using the international star system, though visitors should note that standards are not always the same from one country to the next. Beware also that hotel rooms (and bathrooms) in Europe tend to be smaller than those in the US.
Grading: There is the Hotelstars Union grading system from 1 to 5 stars.
Bed and breakfast
The equivalent of a B&B, a Greek pension offers basic accommodation with breakfast but no restaurant as such. They are usually family-run and purpose-built, and found mainly on the coast and islands, offering a cheaper alternative to a xenodoheio (hotel).
Likewise, a xenona is a guesthouse, set in an old traditional mansion or villa furnished with antiques and rugs. They are more atmospheric and found mainly in the mountains, and may have extras such as log fires in the bedrooms, and occasionally their own restaurants. They tend to be popular with wealthy Athenians during the winter weekends and over the Christmas and New Year holiday period.
There is a wide network of official campsites (www.panhellenic-camping-union.gr). Most offer facilities such as showers, toilets and a cafe, and some also have a small shop, a restaurant and sports facilities. Many of the best ones are on the islands, close to the sea. For details, contact the Greek National Tourism Organisation (see Important Addresses).
Note: Visitors are not permitted to camp anywhere other than on registered sites.
Rural farmstay accommodation: Also known as agrotourism, this is an expanding market and has terrific potential in a country with a warm Mediterranean climate, dramatic landscapes and unspoilt nature. The region with the most developed agrotourism in Greece is the island of Crete. Guests stay in rooms or apartments on the farm – usually purpose-built from local materials such as stone and wood, and furnished in traditional style. It’s ideal for families with kids as there’s lots of fresh air and plenty to do. Most farms also offer fantastic food – local specialities prepared from their own seasonal produce, plus homemade wine.
Self-catering: Throughout Greece, but especially on the islands, families have invested in building new apartments, or restoring old villas or cottages, to rent to holiday makers. Standards vary but some properties are truly stunning and very luxurious – set in gardens with pools - whilst others are basic. The great advantage of having self-catering facilities is that you can cook and eat what and when you want – it also means that you’ll need to shop at nearby stores and markets, putting you more in tune with the local way of life.
Youth Hostels: Greece has only nine youth hostels recognised by the International Youth Hostel Federation (www.hihostels.com): five in Athens, one in Kryoneri (close to Corinth on the Peloponnese), one in Corfu, one on Ios and two on Santorini. A number of youth hostels belong to the Greek Youth Hostels Association. Other youth hostels exist in Crete, the Cyclades and the Peloponnese. For further details, contact the Greek Youth Hostel Association.