charming small hotels and guesthouses.
-- Conde Nast Traveller, October 2006
From the Author
In Greece, I found my hotel paradise. Travelling around the country, I discovered all these very special places to stay that offer the comfort of first-class hotels; the charm, authenticity and warm welcome associated with Greek traditions; and the aesthetics, tasteful interior decoration and touches that the modern traveller with an eye for beauty and an aversion for mass tourism is looking for.
Photographer André Bakker followed in my footsteps and captured my words in his images. We did not only want to present the hotels, but also give the reader a feel for what it is like to stay there, offering a peek behind the scenes, telling the full story and introducing the owners and creators of these perfect little getaways.
About the Author
Andre Bakker, who is Dutch as well, has worked as a professional photographer all over the world. His greatest passion has always been to photograph the real thing and much of his portfolio is a blend of portraits, reportage, travel and people. He spent four months on the road for this book, photographing the hotels as well as their owners, and enjoying every minute of it. andrebakker.com
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Tsangarada - Ag. Paraskevi
Where else would you find the Lost Unicorn, but hidden behind the village square with the, reputedly, oldest and largest plane tree in Greece? The tranquil plateia of Agia Paraskevi in Tsangarada, famous for its magnificent 1000-year-old tree (with a perimeter of about 17 m!), is an enchanting spot, and provides the perfect setting for this small and homey hotel. When Clare and Christos, a young British-Greek couple, during their holidays in Greece, came to Pelion for the first time and passed by the little square, they instantly fell for the idyllic setting of the soft-coloured building. They had a chat over the fence with the British-American owners, but never even went inside.
Back in England, Clare and Christos started dreaming of doing something similar and maybe open a small hotel somewhere in Greece. One day, just for fun, they looked on the Internet for properties for sale, and the first that popped up on their screen was the Lost Unicorn. They took this as a sign they had to pursue their dream, and, to cut a long story short, a year later they had become the proud owners of the little hotel.
The century-old building isnt quite as grand as most historical Pelion mansions, but inside it is absolutely lovely. It first started operating as a hotel in the fifties and even though it closed its doors twenty years later, it still carries an old-fashioned feel about it. But be prepared: with the exception of the original terrazzo flooring there is little typically Greek or even Mediterranean about it in fact, it looks more like an elegant British country-house hotel. And to some extent, that is just what it is.
The previous owners, who bought in 1995, had filled the large living room, the dining room, the library, as well as the bedrooms with gleaming English Victorian antiques, and served their guests English breakfast and afternoon tea with scones. After Clare and Christos took over the property and all of its contents (including quite a collection of unicorn statues!), they decided to continue in the same spirit, but added a fresh dose of enthusiasm. Clare and Christos receive their guests as friends, spoiling them with excellent breakfasts, high teas, drinks by the open roaring fire or on the flowered terrace, and wonderful candlelit dinners.
Where youll sleep Six double bedrooms are on the first floor, and there are two more rooms on the penthouse-like second floor. The bedrooms are small but charming with antique beds and elegant, British-style bedding. They are equipped with a telephone, a television and a hairdryer, and every room has its own little balcony. The en suite showers are a little old fashioned but they are pleasantly large and impeccably clean.
When you feel hungry Clare and Christos serve breakfast in the dining room or on the terrace (from 9.00 to 11.00), and you can choose between full English or scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. On Sunday, you can also opt for a champagne brunch, served between 11.00 and 13.00. If you ask in the morning (or better even, a day in advance or upon booking), you will be served a splendid three-course dinner in the evening. Otherwise, you can order simple dishes à la carte. There are also several restaurants within walking distance.
Bring the children? It is better to not show up with young children at the Lost Unicorn. It is not only that the rooms cant fit extra beds, but also that the atmosphere is more geared toward grown-ups looking for quiet.
To see and do Pelion is an all-year-round destination. During the summer, there are many gorgeous beaches to choose from, while in the winter you can try out the Pelion ski centre. And of course throughout the year, there is walking; in fact there is no better way to explore Tsangarada than by foot. If you want to make sure you get to see the most beautiful, hidden spots, you can sign up for guided walks.
Good to know The Lost Unicorn is open almost all year round, apart from a few weeks during the winter when Christos and Clare go on holiday. The price for a double room is 100 per night during weekends and holidays, and 85 for all other periods. Breakfast is included. Note that dogs are not allowed. Credit cards: Amex, MasterCard and Visa.
Getting there The easiest way to reach Tsangarada is to follow signs for southern Pelion from Volos. You drive along the coastal road for about 20 km and continue following signs for Neohori and Tsangarada. Tsangarada consists of four small communities. The Lost Unicorn is in Agia Paraskevi, and it is signposted from the main road. When you reach the square, continue along the cobbled lane past the church and leave your car at the end. The Lost Unicorn is about 50 m to your left.