Guesthouse Lila is one of the most charming places to stay in Syros. Situated in a quiet part of Ermoupolis, a few blocks from the seafront, the mid-19th century building used to be the French consulate of the island. The town is not your typical Cycladic place. Due to the strong historical presence of the Roman Catholic community on the island, it has a bit of an Italian/French feel. So does Guesthouse Lila, which reminded me of a little Italian pensione or a chambres d’hôtes in France. Owner Lila and her husband restored the house in a charming old-meets-contemporary style, following much of its original layout but adding a modern aspect as well. Rooms and suites are on two floors. The rooms are on the ground floor and open directly on to the (quiet) street. They all have wonderfully high ceilings and most have beds on mezzanines, leaving extra sitting space below, and they are furnished in an attractive blend of old and new. You will sleep in comfortable modern beds, but hang your clothes in (very clean!) old wardrobes. Large suites (they are more like apartments) are on the first floor – one has a sea view. On the ground floor there’s a homely café/sitting room where Lila serves her homemade breakfast. There’s no terrace, but the large doors to the car-free street are usually wide open, so that even when you sit inside, you still feel part of the life that slowly goes by.
The pleasant blend of modern comfort with the charm of the old building. Guesthouse Lila is a sweet, easy-going place to stay. The central but quiet location is perfect if you want to explore the town.
The ground-floor rooms open onto a quiet alleyway. They don’t get direct sunlight and there’s not much of a view. Of the three suites on the first floor, only one has a sea view.
En-suite bathroom (shower)
Facilities to make tea and coffee
Café-bar with sitting corner
Breakfast is served until 1 pm. Lunch and dinner catering can be arranged, and there is also a good choice of traditional tavernas and more modern restaurants at walking distance from the guesthouse.
One of the reasons why Lila and her family moved to Ermoupolis is that while it has all the advantages of a (small) town, the environment is quite safe for children. Local children find their way to the central square where during warm summer nights they all play together without their parents having to worry about them. The guesthouse provides a child-friendly environment and the rooms and suites are comfortable for families. (Just keep in mind that some of the mezzanines are not totally secure for very young children.) Cots are available, and in the sitting room you will find a stack of games and toys.
You will find a good number of beaches on Syros. For easy access, head for the southern part of the island, where most beaches can be reached by car and offer facilities like sun beds and umbrellas. If, however, in the high season, you find these beaches are too crowded, then try the northern part of Syros, where you will find plenty of ‘wild’ and generally much quieter beaches.
Go scuba diving for the day (or more); there are two diving centres with offices in Ermoupolis, offering courses for beginners and excursions of experienced divers. There are also possibilities for windsurfing, SUP (stand-up paddle), kayaking, and kite-surfing on several of the southern beaches of Syros.
Walking and hiking
Syros is a year-round destination, and if you wonder what to do when it’s not really beach weather, well, go walking! There are 16 marked walking routes on the island, and many more that are not signposted. Get a good map (the map of Terrain has a detailed description of the best routes) and you are set to go.
There’s a great riding school in Manna. You can sign up for lessons or trail rides. For experienced horse riders there are tours to the beach for swimming with horses. Beginners are advised to first take a lesson at the school. Bring the kids too, they can ride (on small ponies) from the age of four.
Rent a bicycle for the day and explore the southern half of the island (the northern half too, if you are not afraid of climbing some hills). A definitely fun way to get to see some villages and try a few beaches.
Explore the town
Go for walks in Ermoupolis to admire the beautiful 19th century architecture; visit Greek Orthodox as well as Roman Catholic churches and go and see the splendid Apollon theatre (modelled after La Scala of Milan, albeit on a smaller scale). Have a drink on one of the terraces by the sea and explore the alleyways and backstreets, some quiet and peaceful, others full of life with street markets, restaurants, bars and cafés, old fashioned little stores and arty boutiques. Take a pre- or after-dinner stroll on the grand central square in front of the impressive neoclassical Town Hall.
Guesthouse Lila is situated a few blocks away from the seafront, in a quiet part of Ermoupolis, the capital of Syros. The impressive main square of the town is at easy walking distance. To go to the beach, you need some sort of transport. Public transport is good: busses that leave every half hour and the bus stop is only five minutes on foot.
You can get to Syros by ferry from the port of Piraeus in three to five hours, but there also is an airport on the island with daily flights from Athens. The guesthouse is not too hard to find from the port: as you arrive you take a right on the waterfront boulevard Ethnikis Antistaseos and after about 200 metres, right after the last palm tree, you turn left into Naxou, a very narrow alleyway with steps. The guesthouse is at the end of the fourth block on your right. It is not far, but it is a bit of a climb. Generally, Lila meets her guests in the port.