It takes no stretch of the imagination to conjure an idyllic day spent in Greece. From the distinctly creative pulse of contemporary Athens to the swirling Cyclades, Greece is a heady mix of unparalleled history, charm, and warmth.
Irresistibly intoxicating, Greece is a hotbed for discovery. On one hand you can trace the origins of Western culture, endlessly marveling at ancient ruins steeped in mythical tales. On the other, you could find yourself slipping past the cool crowd, into the chicest independent gallery opening in Athens. Then there’s the islands—some say 6,000 of them, give or take. Idyllic, sun bleached swimming coves and sweeping cliffside views are found on the iconic isles of Santorini and Mykonos, and the lesser-known gems of Paros, Sifnos, and Crete. But mostly there’s the people.
There’s a governing philosophy that is an overlay to almost everything in Greece: filoxenia. Loosely translated as ’friend to the stranger’, this mindset extends equally to the small exchanges of daily life, as does it to the country’s mastery of hospitality. Welcoming and warm-hearted, the Greek people are unrivaled hosts, with any visitor quickly becoming family. Very well-fed family. And with an extraordinary Mediterranean bounty, it’s little wonder this country is home to one of the world’s five blue zones, on the Aegean island of Ikaria.
A short, day boat trip from Mykonos, this sacred island is the mythological birthplace of twins Apollo and Artemis and long considered one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. In fact, it might have been the first cross-cultural festival in human history—the Delia—a quadrennial celebration that drew diverse travelers from across the ancient world for singing, dancing, feasting, and every form of physical enjoyment.
“It’s a really beautiful story,” said Stelios Brigos, the vice governor and head of culture for the South Aegean.
When you walk through the ruins of Delos today, you see not only classical ancient Greek architecture but depictions of Syrian deities, a temple to the Egyptian goddess Isis, the ruins of a synagogue, Phoenician, Italian, and Palestinian artifacts—indicative of Delos’ time as a cultural melting pot.
Words Ruby Davies Date 10 October, 2020
Roy Kalfopoulou has lived and breathed hospitality since birth. Born into a family of Greek hoteliers, her childhood unfolded against a backdrop of hotels, and then her degree in psychology allowed her to approach her “destined” profession with an academically empathic angle—taking her from internships and front-facing positions in London hotels to her own properties in Greece.
Close your eyes for a moment; conjure an image of Greece—Athens to be precise.
When hospitality is part of your legacy—as it is for Agapi and Costantza Sbokou, whose father founded the family hotel business—you feel a sense of responsibility to uphold the traditions that have helped the company grow over the decades.
Crete’s an island of superlatives. The largest Greek island is rich in both ancient history—going back to the Minoan civilization 4,000 years ago—and flora, a botanical Eden thanks to its setting between Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Sun-bleached, low-set houses frame intriguing narrow streets before opening onto breathtaking views that often open—quite suddenly—onto crystal-clear waters…. This is the unique destination of Santorini (officially known as Thera)—an island that today enchants those in search of both adventurous and minimalist living alike.