When it comes to sea views, and I mean endless sea views, Verina Astra must be the best hotel on Sifnos. And it scores pretty high on a number of other points too. The hotel consists of seven small Cycladic houses set in a marvellously quiet spot on a steep hillside plunging into the Aegean Sea. Inside, they are done in an inviting, modern island style with flagstone floors, soothing colours, built-in furniture, neat bathrooms and superb beds, and each has its own, large veranda. It’s all comfort and style with a luxurious homey feel. I stayed there during one of those really mellow September weekends. In the morning, I woke up to a glorious orange sun rising from a mirror-like sea; turned over for another snooze, and then got up to be treated to a fantastic breakfast. (There are worse ways to start the day…) After that, I went down to the sea for a swim off the rocks and later on, back at the hotel, I was overcome by laziness and I dozed off on a lounger on my terrace. Astra Verina is the kind of tranquil hideaway that does that to you. It’s totally relaxing, and I found it hard to leave.
Verina Astra offers a rare combination of quiet, views and comfort. The accommodation is stylish and comfortable, and the sea views are magical. Moreover, I found the young staff extremely kind and efficient.
There was no wind when I stayed at Verina Astra, but I imagine the spot can be windy when the meltemi blows. That said, the terraces seem well protected from the wind, so you won’t have a problem sitting out. Also bear in mind that even though, if you are fit, you can walk to the village and to the sea, it is best to have a car when staying here.
En-suite bathroom (shower) (open-plan in the double rooms)
Television (on request)
iPod docking station
Two rooms have wheelchair access
Outdoor swimming pool
Art classes (pottery, drawing and photography)
Breakfast at Verina Astra is a real treat. It is served (from 9 am to noon) in a beautiful half-open dining room with, of course, those stunning sea views. As soon as you sit down fresh bread with delicious jams & honey, little pots with cereals and freshly squeezed orange juice will be brought to your table, and then you can choose from lots of spoiling extras – omelettes, fried eggs with bacon, pancakes and fresh fruit salad with Greek yoghurt and nuts.
For lunch, the hotel serves organic snacks, salads and a daily main course, and for dinner you can choose from a small menu and a number of daily dishes, prepared with mostly home-grown organic ingredients.
You also have a good choice of places to eat in the villages nearby (Artemonas, Apollonia and also Kastro) and there are excellent tavernas by the sea. (Sifnos is famed for its local specialties and excellent food.) I was given some suggestions and had dinner at a relaxed trendy little place, Omega 3, on the beach of Platis Yialos where the fish comes in small portions (so you can taste several!), prepared in very creative ways. It was not cheap, but the setting and the quality of the food made it worth it.
I think Verina Astra is more of a hotel for romantic escapes, but you can come with one or two children. The suites have one or two extra single beds. Do keep in mind that the sea below the hotel is not easily accessible for very young kids. The beach of Platis Yialos, the most child-friendly beach on the island, is 20 minutes by car.
Yes, you can dive into the hotel’s infinity pool, but check out the beaches too. The long sandy Platys Gialos beach, though lined with restaurants, cafés pottery shops and places to stay, is probably the best on the island. Vathi, a bay that is well protected from the wind is a close runner-up and Kamares, the main port, also has a good sandy beach. Other beaches include Chryssopigi (visit the monastery too), Apokoftos and Faros. When there is no wind, you can swim from the rocks below the hotel.
Enjoy water sports or go for a boat ride
Head to Platys Gialos to rent a pedal boat, SUP or canoes. You can also rent motorboats (no licence required) or go on a skippered boat excursion. In Kamares there’s a scuba diving school.
Explore the villages
The picturesque villages or Artemonas, Apollonia and Kastro are near. Wonderful for strolling around and doing some shopping, and there nice restaurants and places to go for drinks at night as well.
The monopatia (hiking trails) of Sifnos are fantastic, and you have a choice of many beautiful marked routes. Don’t miss the walk to Kastro.
Visit the ceramics workshops
Sifnos is famous for its pottery and ceramics workshops on the island. Each has its own style, and you will find some amazing pieces to take home with you. The hotel can arrange classes.
Sign up for a cooking class
It’s not just the pottery Sifnos is famous for. There’s also the food. The island has a rich culinary tradition, and you won’t find better local cuisine anywhere else in the Cycladic islands. Local specialties include chickpea fritters, chickpea soup, caper salad, “mastelo” (marinated lamb or goat slow-cooked on a layer of vine twigs) and honey-cheese pie. The hotel can arrange for private cooking classes.
Hotel Verina Astra is in a very quiet spot on the east facing coast of Sifnos. Situated 150 m above sea level, and with no other construction in the direct vicinity, the views to the open sea are absolutely splendid. You can walk down from the hotel to the sea (when there is not too much wind, you can swim from the rocks), but it requires a bit of effort, especially to come back!
The only way to get to Sifnos is by ferry (two and a half to five hours from Piraeus). The connections are good, throughout the summer season there is at least one fast boat per day and during the high season there are two or three a day. It is great to combine your stay on Sifnos with a few days, or more, on Milos and/or Serifos, which are only a short boat ride away. From the port of Sifnos with your own car, you should take the road to Apollonia, and from there continue to Artemonas. Then follow the signs for Poulati. You will see the entrance about one km after Artemonas, on your left, not long after the end of the asphalt.