The European country that many of us have missed the most during the pandemic turns out to be Greece. Visitor arrivals rose vertiginously in 2022, outpacing other much-loved Old World destinations such as Italy, France and Great Britain. This isn’t exactly surprising, since the allure of the place is obvious. Its dozens of islands scattered across the Aegean and Ionian seas make up one of the world’s great destinations. Athens, its capital, is a vibrant and fascinating city, and everywhere, the archaeological remains of the country’s ancient past never cease to amaze. A crop of charming new small hotels has opened since our last visit, and it was a pleasure to spend time discovering the best of them.
We began our trip in Athens at the new 43-room xenodocheio Milos, which occupies two listed neoclassical buildings in the stylish Kolonaki district. On arrival, we were immediately impressed by the philoxenia, the art of making a stranger feel at home. We weren’t surprised, however, because we’ve been aware of restaurateur Costas Spiliadis ever since he opened Estiatorio Milos, his first American restaurant — a chic seafood house on West 55th Street in New York City — in 1997. Spiliadis is one of the most gracious restaurateurs we’ve ever met, and today, he has two establishments in New York and others in Montréal, Las Vegas, Los Cabos and London. Now, with the Athens hotel — and its Milos restaurant — he has returned to his homeland, bringing back everything he’s learned about hospitality during a distinguished international career.
We’d booked the Milos Terrace Suite, which had a spacious outdoor terrace with a Jacuzzi. The minimalism of the décor seemed refreshing in the hot Greek climate. Our accommodations came with oak parquet floors, ash-gray oak paneling, an indigo wool area rug and a beige sofa with leather arms. A glass-topped dining table and four dusty-rose tub chairs centered beneath frosted-glass pendant lights provided a perfect setup for in-room dining. There was also a small writing desk at the foot of the king-size bed. A spacious white-marble bath provided double vanities and a walk-in rainfall shower. What we really loved about our stay in these quarters, however, was breakfast on the terrace each morning and a long jetted soak at the end of a busy day of sightseeing and shopping.