Familia, a charming boutique hotel in Vathi on the island of Ithaca, used to be an olive press. The 19th century building was in ruins when Christina and her niece Eleni bought it. The olive press came with a treasure trove of antique machinery and tools, which, after the building was fully restored, they put to decorative and creative use. The lofty lounge area, for instance, features one of the old (huge!) iron oil barrels – it has become the reception desk. Throughout the hotel, interiors are a fantastic blend of old charm and modern, industrial design. Stylish bedrooms are furnished with a combination of modern and country-style furniture. Beds are very comfortable (all with Coco-Mat mattresses expect one, which has a very firm mattress) and bathrooms are excellent. Several rooms are set directly beneath the building’s impressive tall roof; others have a more intimate, cosy feel. All are very quiet. You will sleep well at Hotel Familia. Start your day with a great breakfast prepared by Christina, then you can go and explore the coast of Ithaca and find little coves or beautiful pebble beaches to swim.
I was impressed by the charm of the building combined with unique interior design; I was pleased with the warm welcome by manager Makis; and I was spoiled with Christina’s amazing breakfast!
There are no far-reaching views from the bedrooms, and even though it is close, you can’t see the sea from Hotel Familia.
En-suite bathroom (shower or bath)
Television with DVD player
Mini-bar Air conditioning
In the morning you can help yourself from a delicious breakfast spread in the lounge, and you can eat out in the courtyard terrace. I went for the healthy stuff: dakos (dark rye bread with crushed tomato, feta and herbs), fruit salad and yoghurt, but there are also plenty of other options: various cakes and types of bread, jams, ham and cheese, and eggs, which are prepared differently every day.
There is no restaurant at Hotel Familia, but there are lots of restaurants only a short stroll away. Makis gave me recommendations for the two nights I spent in Vathi, and both were spot-on. One was a small Greek restaurant (I forgot the name) with a cute courtyard terrace, very close to the hotel. The other was an excellent Italian restaurant, Libretto, at the end of the bay of Vathi.
Despite its name, Familia is not a hotel designed for family holidays and it is not really recommended for children under the age of eight. That said, most rooms can take an extra bed for a child, and there are also several rooms, with twin beds, that teenagers can share. Kids who are old enough to go around by themselves will certainly enjoy staying at Vathi. The port has a pleasantly laid-back atmosphere and they can walk or cycle to places to swim.
Hotel Familia is in the little seaside town of Vathi on Ithaca, one block away from the water. It is a bit of a hidden corner, and you don’t get a sea view from the hotel, but it is a very quiet spot. The hotel has free bicycles for guests, so while shops, cafés and restaurants are only short walks away, you can cycle to nearby beaches.
Ithaca is a small mountainous island and there is no airport. It can be reached (daily) by ferry from Patras on the mainland (4 hours) and from neighbouring island Kefalonia (30 minutes) which has an international airport. You will arrive in the port of Pissaetos. If you don’t come with your own car, ask the hotel to book a taxi for you to take you to Vathi (6 km). As you enter Vathi, after the first restaurant, go straight ahead at the sign for the car park. You will see the hotel on your right.
During the summer there also is a ferry from Vassiliki on Lefkada that takes you to Frikes in the north of Ithaca, about half an hour drive from Vathi.