I am not always sure what I prefer most: new, fresh and comfortable; or charming old. Well, no need to choose at the Lotus Tree in Pelion: at this bed and breakfast you get a combination. The tall neoclassical mansion dates from the 19th century. Lovingly restored by its Irish/Greek owners David and Anna, it has contemporary-styled interiors with a few traditional touches. The ground-floor lounge has modern tiled floors, old-style wooden beams, design furniture and a beautiful fireplace; the bedrooms on the two floors above have oak wood floors, high quality contemporary furniture, no-frills decoration, smallish but nice bathrooms, and views to Volos and the mountains. Enjoy the mountains (in the winter there’s skiing nearby), explore the historical villages of Pelion, have a traditional meal in the Portaria (its main square is only a minute walk away) and come back to the Lotus Tree to relax on the terrace, by the open fire, or in the mini spa. David and Anna, who live in Athens, spend as much time as possible their guesthouse in Portaria to welcome their guests personally; but the local staff will in any case be there to take good care of you.
The views from the bedrooms are beautiful, but you can’t see the sea from the mansion. When I visited, the mansion had not been open for very long, and I felt it was waiting for a few finishing touches.
7 double rooms
1 room for up to 3 persons
Two of the double rooms can interconnect to accommodate a family.
Extra bed possible in some rooms.
En-suite bathroom (shower)
En-suite bathroom (shower)
Breakfast (a traditional buffet) is served in the ground-floor lounge, and when the weather is nice you can take it out to the terrace. There is no shortage of restaurants in Portaria, and they are all within easy walking distance. Most are traditional taverna style, but if you are in for something a bit more upscale, try Gefsokratoras (Γευσοκράτορας), a charming small restaurant serving excellent Greek dishes ‘with a twist’. I really enjoyed my meal there! In the high season (winter weekends and holidays), ask the staff at the Lotus Tree to make a reservation.
Yes, you can definitely bring your children to the Lotus Tree. Several of the rooms can take an extra bed for a child, and there are also two interconnecting double rooms that can be used by a family. The beds are doubles though, so perhaps not ideal for teenagers to share, but in that case, an extra single bed can be the solution. Cots/cribs are available on request.
We have been to Pelion many times with our children, from when they were very young (actually, even when I was pregnant with my first!) until they were in their teenage years, and they have always very much enjoyed going for walks, visiting the villages of Pelion, and, the last time we went, skiing.
Walk and explore
Bring your walking shoes: walking and hiking are top activities in Pelion. The villages of Pelion are connected by a centuries-old network of cobbled mule paths leading you through mountains and beautiful nature, past gorgeous mansions, churches, streams, waterfalls and old stone bridges. There are several marked walking routes, and you can also sign up for a guided walks.
Skiing with a sea-view, how does that sound? The Agriolefkes ski centre near Hania, is only 15 km from Portaria. It’s small (five lifts), but it’s known for its good snow quality. It also has a beautiful trail for cross-country skiing.
Enjoy the sea
So, you are staying in the mountains, but that doesn’t mean the sea is off-limits. It’s an easy daytrip to the eastern coast of Pelion, where, a one-hour drive away you have a choice of wonderful beaches (some with facilities, others more remote and ‘wild’). The beaches on the side of the Pagasitikos Gulf are a little faster to drive to. I find them less striking, but the sea here is beautiful too, with generally calmer waters. David can organise a one-day sailing trip for you, with lunch, nice swims and if you are lucky dolphin spotting included.
More sports and action
Drive to Damouchari on the east coast of Pelion for sea kayaking and stand-up paddle board. On the nearby Papa Nera beach you will find a scuba diving centre. Near Tsagarada there are possibilities for canyoning and rock climbing. And there is horseback riding on the western slopes of Mt Pelion. Tours start not far from the village of Milies. Beginners can sign up for a one or a two/three-hour ride, while experienced riders, have a choice of rides of up to six hours. It is also possible to do a combination of mountain biking and horseback riding (with lunch in between).
Portaria is a charming mountain village situated at an altitude of 650 m, halfway between Volos and the Agriolefkes ski centre. The Lotus Tree is very close to the central square, at the end of a quiet cobbled lane.
From Volos you follow signs for Portaria. Drive up to the village square, and look out for a sign for the Lotus Tree to your left.