Ran by a nomadic family of three, this elegant home-away-from-home is a real stand-out!
If Mykonos is the most outgoing greek island then Syros is its more sophisticated and relaxed big sister. Once the industrial and mercantile heart of the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as its main port, it became a capital almost too ambitious for its small island: a place of marble pavements, palatial buildings and large, neoclassical public squares. This is why it bears the name Hermoupolis as in ‘Hermes’ town’ — the God of travellers and traders. And now Syros has Aristide Hotel, a new beautiful entry.
Aristide Hotel is a nine-room hotel with a focus on design, art and sustainability. The property has a garden, a rooftop bar with sea views, an indoors bar but also an art gallery and an artists’ studio!
The story behind the hotel is also very interesting, as it is run by a small and somewhat nomadic family of three, a mother and two daughters, who went from communist Romania to Sweden as refugees. One quitted her job as an economist in London and moved to Syros to run the restoration while the other sister works in the Arctic Circle as a doctor to finance the project. The family’s only connection to Greece was a maternal grandfather who passed away before they were born and they didn’t have any previous experience in the tourism field. As they say “we just fell in love with the island and this house”.
The hotel is housed in an awesome building, a neoclassical mansion in the historical centre of Hermoupolis and actually one of the last neoclassical houses to be built in Greece! There were minimal changes to the structure, so as to keep the generous spaces, original architectural details and the feel of a beautiful home rather than a hotel.
The art factor at Aristide Hotel
A permanent art collection can be found throughout the hotel’s rooms and public spaces and includes original and sometimes commissioned works by artists such as Christy Lee Rogers, Igor Skaletsky and Riccardo Vecchio. It is heavily skewed towards portraiture and figurative art. There is also a dedicated art gallery that will host temporary exhibitions by the resident artists. since the hotel offers a residency program that includes accommodation and exclusive use of the workshop.
Aristide Hotel supports an ethical lifestyle
The hotel not only hosts a tree-planting project aiming to offset some of the carbon footprint of guests’ travel to the island but also encourages its team to use mostly local and organic food. It has no single-use plastics — the bathrooms have ceramic soap and shampoo dispensers, toothbrushes are made of bamboo, toothpaste is in pill form, and the slippers are biodegradable and compostable.
The restoration and the interiors
The guiding philosophy of the restoration was that the materials, textures and colours of the house be real. And, because of the white marble staircase that meets visitors, Greek marble is at the heart of the hotel (guests will come across nine types of local marble in the different rooms). Furnishings and lighting are mostly contemporary with a few objects designed by the owners such as the black & brass lobby chandeliers. Interior design studio Todor Cosmin designed the bathrooms, the bar, and the marble furniture while the bedrooms and the other public spaces were done by the owners. The breakfast garden was designed by local landscape architect Iraklis Kailas.
Food and drink at Aristide Hotel
Breakfast, brunch, and small dishes are served with a focus on local, seasonal and organic ingredients, and Cycladic recipes. The menu has been curated by food and wine critic Nikoleta Makrionitou, and, in addition to established breakfast staples, includes dishes such as Tirititim eggs, San Michali saganaki and tomato spoon sweet, or zucchini tart with yogurt. Guests wishing to start the day in a more decisive fashion can opt for the champagne breakfast, and dishes such as Avgotaraxo (Greek bottarga) with butter and lemon zest, or avocado salad with smoked trout and cream of local Anthotiro cheese. Breakfast is served in the garden, on private terraces, or on the rooftop.
The garden bar is open all day for coffees and drinks. In the evening, guests are invited to the rooftop bar, and its open views of the sea and neighbouring islands. The cocktail menu is developed in collaboration with bartender Christos Gkolfis and is focused on well-executed classics, while the wine list offers the best of Cycladic and Greek wines.
Oana Aristide, the daughter that supervised the amazing restoration of the hotel is a writer and has just published this book! She has also narrated the making of Aristide Hotel to the Financial Times in the most captivating way. Read it and you will understand that she is a charismatic storyteller apart from a hospitable hotelier.
About the unique project of Aristide Hotel, she says; “We have tried to make a beautiful home that happens to also offer everything that guests expect from a hotel. The vibe is relaxed, the staff is professional but genuinely warm and kind. Moreover, we want the hotel to be connected to its location, not just by virtue of being in Syros, but by being integrated into local culture and society”
photo credits: Inbulb