There are a lot of reasons to fall in love with Greece — the brilliant blue of the water and sky, the bright white architecture, the beaches, the dazzling sun — but the country also packs a wallop for fans of Mediterranean cuisine: spanakopita, moussaka, hummus, grilled octopus, baklava, ouzo — well, you get the idea.
One of the newest entries on the Greek foodie scene is Xenodocheio Milos, a five-star, 43-room hotel that opened in downtown Athens on 15 January.
The property, which comprises two heritage-listed neoclassical buildings, is a partnership between Greek chef Costas Spiliadis, the Intra Athinaiki company and Dimos Stasinopoulos, CEO of Epoque Collection, a boutique hotel management company.
Putting gastronomy front and centre was a deliberate strategy, according to Stasinopoulos.
"Beyond location, food is also key in any memorable travel experience," he said, touting the property as "the only luxury gastronomic hotel in Athens."
"We simply saw a gap in the high-end hospitality market in Athens, and specifically in the heart of our capital, where travellers can have easy access to one-of-a-kind historic and cultural landmarks," Stasinopoulos said. "We wanted to change the landscape and add much-needed diversity to the luxury hotel options."
The hotel celebrates old and new Athens, thanks to its location near Plaka, the city's historical neighbourhood, and the trendy Kolonaki district.
The restaurant at Xenodocheio Milos, a five-star, 43-room hotel that opened in downtown Athens in January 2022. Photo Credit: Xenodocheio Milos
The restaurant features dramatic white columns, a sculptural staircase and outdoor seating overlooking Old Parliament Square. The design includes net-like sculptures by Greek artist Dimitris Fortsas throughout the space in a nod to Greece's fishing culture, and the menu highlights fresh Mediterranean seafood.
The property can also arrange culinary tours that give visitors an inside glimpse into the city's food scene, including chef Costas' favourite markets, restaurants and cafes. Yacht tours along the Athenian Riviera can also be organised, offering a taste of the coastal lifestyle that inspires the chef's signature dishes.
Guestrooms, which start at 20 square metres, feature Greek-made furnishings, pendant lighting, Dionysos marble bathrooms and wooden floors. Suites on the fourth and fifth floors offer 85 square metres of living space and expansive terraces.
Amenities also include a wellness suite, with Elemis skincare products, and a state-of-the-art gym that's open 24 hours a day.
A1 Architects and Dimitris Agiostratitis oversaw the conversion of the historical building into a hotel, and the design concept and interior design were carried out by Divercity and Carole Topin.
Nightly rates start at US$420.
Tours serve up Rhodes Food Festival
Meanwhile, travellers headed to Rhodes, Greece's third-largest island, can time their arrival to coincide with the inaugural Rhodes Food Festival, set for May and October.
The two-week festival, a joint project of LegendsAbroad.com and Rhodes Tourism, will feature culinary-themed tours, wine tastings and food-centric events.
Local specialties include wine, cheese pies, oil buns and small pies with honey, cinnamon and clove.
A week-long tour, which can include add-on excursions to Symi and Halki, is commissionable to travel advisors.
Blue Palace gastro tours in Crete
Or head to Crete to take part in new gastronomic experiences at Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort, Elounda Crete.
The property's Anthos restaurant will host a gastronomic tour of Greece with visits from well-known Greek chefs, to be announced throughout the season, showcasing their passion for cooking with progressive tasting menus.
At Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort, Elounda Crete, the Athos restaurant features a range of new gastronomic experiences. Photo Credit: Xenodocheio Milos
Creative consultant chef Athinagoras Kostakos is known for emphasising locally sourced fish and meats, fresh vegetables, herbs and produce from nearby farms and the resort's own organic kitchen garden. Other dining options include the beachside menu at the Isola Beach Club and authentic Asian flavours at Asia Deep Blue.
Also new this season is an olive oil pairing experience, where guests will taste Phaea Olive Oil during meals, followed by a selection of signature after-dinner drinks.
The hotel's new Phaea Plan Bee initiative, poised to be a highlight of the summer 2022 season, will feature tours of the organic garden and beehives, followed by honey harvesting and tasting sessions.
Blue Palace features 199 bungalows, 52 suites and four private villas, with nightly rates ranging from about US$330 to US$3,300 per night, including tax and buffet breakfast.
Culinary and bespoke experiences on Mykonos
Food lovers heading to Mykonos this summer will be able to sample the culinary offerings at the Cali Mykonos, a boutique hotel set to open in July.
Helmed by chef Lefteris Lazarou, the on-site eatery will feature signature Mediterranean cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. Guests can also opt for private dining on their terraces.
Amenities will include 40 suites and villas, each with a private pool and terrace; four- and five-bedroom villas; a 137-metre seawater infinity pool overlooking the sea; and a private beach.
Bespoke experiences can include yacht and luxury boat trips to nearby beaches and neighbouring islands.
Accommodation rates start at US$1,500 per night.
Brown Hotels opens the Lighthouse Athens
Finally, coming full circle back to Athens, Brown Hotels marked the grand opening of the Lighthouse Athens, a 220-room property which opened 1 April.
Foodies can tuck into local specialties at the fine dining restaurant or opt for contemporary, light dishes at the open-air rooftop bar.
The roof terrace, which will officially open on 1 June, offers 360-degree views of the city and its archaeological ruins and features a pool, sun loungers, hot tubs and outdoor showers.
Brown Hotels' fourth hotel to launch in Athens, the property is located on Omonia Square, adjacent to Brown Hotels' Brown Acropol and DAVE Red Athens.
Rates start at about US$150 a night.
Source: Travel Weekly