With only three bedrooms, Xenon Apollonos in Syros feels more like a stylish home than a hotel or guesthouse. In is in a magnificent 200-year-old building in the island’s capital, Ermoupolis, set on the rocks, right above the sea. The owners George and Sophia are interior designers and the fun of doing it up and decorating must have been what motivated them to create this boutique guesthouse. I was lucky to stay in one of the two rooms overlooking the sea, and fell asleep to the sound of the waves washing against the rocks, while the glittering of morning sunlight reflected on the ceiling by the sea woke me up in the next day. (The third bedroom faces the courtyard and has a particularly cosy feel to it.) All three bedrooms, as well as the shared spaces (a large sitting room opening to a small balcony over the sparkling water and an elegant bar/breakfast room) are extremely tastefully styled. The combination of the original wide plank floors and magnificent painted ceilings, thoughtfully chosen colour schemes, comfortable furniture (some antiques), and stylish decoration make Xenon Apollonos the kind of place you find in interior decorating magazines. It is not only the spot-on décor, however, that makes this guesthouse so great. It is also the homey and warm-hearted atmosphere. Wonderful!
The impeccable interior decoration, the view from the seaside rooms. It feels like a country home… Most of the time I was there I didn't even close my bedroom door (except when I went to sleep of course!).
The light blue room (though charming) faces the courtyard. I am not sure there is staff at the guesthouse all day round. During siesta time it may not be possible to order drinks.
1 double room with sea view (“Blue Room”)
1 maisonette room (room on two levels) for up to 4 persons with sea view (“Green Room”)
1 double room (“Light Blue Room”, with a view of the internal courdyard)
Prices for two persons from 160 Euro per night, breakfast and taxes included. For a full overview of room rates, please contact George and Sofia.
En-suite bathroom (shower)
En-suite bathroom (shower)
A nice breakfast (including fresh juice, croissants, scrambled eggs, cake, yogurt and fruits) is served from 8.30 am to 12.30 pm, and throughout most of the day, you can order drinks and snacks. You will find a lot of places to eat just a few minutes’ walk from the guesthouse, ranging from traditional Greek tavernas to more trendy little restaurants.
Even though Xenon Apollonos is not a typical hotel for family holidays, your children are welcome. The Green Room has two single sofa beds as well as a double bed on a mezzanine level, and works well for a family with one or two children. A cot/crib is available on request and babysitting can be arranged.
Shopping and culture
Ermoupolis is a great town, so make sure you have some time to explore. Go for strolls in the lively pedestrian streets near the port and shop for clothes, art or traditional products in the many little shops and boutiques. Climb up to the picturesque Ano Syros and enjoy the views over town. Try and catch a performance in the splendid Apollon theatre (or at least pop in), and visit the Archaeological and Industrial Museums and the various Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches and cathedrals.
Swim with the locals from the (sort of…) jetty a five-minute stroll from the guesthouse (right after you pass the church of Agios Nicolaos). It’s far from glamorous – you just spread your towel on the concrete surface – but the atmosphere is fun. For beaches easy access and facilities like sun beds and umbrellas, head for the southern part of the island. To avoid the summer crowds, however, go north, where you will find ‘wilder’ beaches.
Walking and hiking
If you are the slightest bit interested in walking, then make sure you have your walking boots with you. There are beautiful walking paths on the island, including quite a few marked routes. Get the Terrain map of Syros, which features descriptions of most.
Rent a bicycle to get around town and the island. The southern part of Syros is not too hilly, and there are plenty of beaches you can cycle too. If you have strong legs, you can explore the much hillier northern half of the island as well.
If you are looking for an excuse to be lazy, you are not going to find it here. There’s just too much to do. Schools and clubs offer windsurfing, scuba diving, canoeing, SUP, kayaking, kite surfing and some other activities for fun and thrill seekers. For horseback riding, there’s a great riding school in Manna, offering lessons at all levels (anything from pony rides for kids from the age of four to competition-level dressage and jumping), as well as trail rides on the island.
Xenon Apollonos is in a quiet street in Ermoupolis, the beautiful, historical capital of Syros, right above the sea. The main square is just a few minutes’ walk away. To explore the island and to go to the beach, you will 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.
To get to Syros you can either take a ferry from the port of Piraeus (the crossing takes three to five hours) or you can fly from Athens (daily flights). Once you are there, it is easiest to ask a taxi to drive you to the hotel, but if you come by ferry and have your own transport, you should head towards Miaouli Square (the main square of Ermoupolis), and facing the town hall, turn right at G. Souri Street. You then turn left at Tsiropina Square into Apollonos Street, where you will find the guesthouse on your right, after about 30 metres.
This year we visited Syros and stayed at the guesthouse Xenon Apollonos. The guesthouse was an excellent choice for us because we enjoy staying in traditional hotels and this particular one was in a very good location, within walking distance from the centre and with an excellent view of the sea. The guesthouse itself is very beautiful, well furnished, clean and the service exceptionally good. We had a wonderful stay and would not hesitate to recommend the guesthouse to others.
Thanks for your help with the Xenon Apollonos our last stop before returning to the USA. We loved the hotel as well as Ermoupoli. We had a little trouble finding the hotel as the street signs are mostly in Greek and the local people didn’t know the street names, even those who work 10 meters from the street. However, with the help of some nice people we finally found the hotel. Good thing that we had the address, 8 Apollonos, for the hotel has very little to identify it. This is in no way a complaint as we found the whole experience charming. The owner of the Apollonos was very gracious. Our room overlooked the water and had a loft for sleeping. The room was a real charmer. Athina and Dometrious really leave you alone. It is like being in your own home. We could come and go and never see anyone else in the place. We couldn’t even say goodbye when we left to catch our ferry. However, Dometrious came down to the port to say goodbye to us. We would highly recommend the Xenon Apollonos to our best friends. Please let our “hosts” know how much we enjoyed their hotel and city. And thank you for placing us there.
Red Bank, USA