Hotel Aristide, a new boutique hotel on the lesser-known Greek island of Syros in the Cyclades is opening this spring with a new rooftop restaurant, three new plunge pool suites, its first artist residencies and an environmental regeneration programme. The nine-room hotel opened softly during lock down last year with a focus on design, art and sustainability.
The hotel is in a restored neoclassical mansion in the historical centre of Hermoupolis, eight minutes’ walk from the beach and city centre. The owners, sisters Jasmin and Oana Aristide, fell in love with this very special island and the house, one of the last neoclassical mansions to be built in Greece. Keeping changes to a minimum to maintain the generous spaces and original architectural details, they have combined traditional materials, including nine different types of Greek marble, with contemporary furnishings and lighting.
Chef Petros Braikidis will be creating a seasonal dinner menu that changes daily with produce from the hotel’s organic smallholding and inspired by traditional Cycladic recipes. Guests dine on the roof terrace seated in Honoré’s Deco vintage Croisette armchairs – known as the most comfortable chairs in the world – and surrounded by panoramic views of the Aegean Sea and neighbouring islands. The cocktail menu has been developed in collaboration with award-winning bartender Christos Gkolfis, and is focused on well-executed classics, while the wine list offers the best of Cycladic and Greek wines.
Breakfast is served in the shaded garden. The menu includes dishes such as Tirititim eggs, San Michali saganaki and caper jam, or zucchini tart with yoghurt. Guests wishing to start the day in 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.
Three of the hotel’s suites have spacious private terraces and plunge pools. Two of the new pools are built in stone, decorated with traditional Cycladic tiles and surrounded by vegetation. The third pool, which belongs to the penthouse suite, has one of the best sea views on the island.
Hotel Aristide has a permanent art collection, which can be found throughout the rooms and public spaces and includes original works by artists such as Christy Lee Rogers, Igor Skaletsky, and Riccardo Vecchio. The dedicated art gallery will host temporary exhibitions by resident artists.
In the Middle Ages Venetian crusaders ruled over Syros and established the hilltop settlement that still exists today. Over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, war refugees from Asia Minor, who already had a background in shipping, shipbuilding or textiles flocked to Syros and transformed the island. For about seventy years, it was the wealthiest place in Greece, and the capital Hermoupolis grew into a sun-drenched maze of marble pavements, palatial buildings and large, neoclassical public squares. Herman Melville wrote a poem about the island and Lawrence of Arabia also visited during that time.
Today the island is hardly known abroad and remains an authentic and lived-in place, with an urbane, year-round arts scene, with numerous festivals (international film, jazz, street art, animation and classical music), a university, student bars and galleries, in addition to the secluded beaches, diving spots, walking trails and foodie havens.
The hotel has started a re-greening project in collaboration with Cyclades Preservation Fund, in view of partially offsetting the carbon footprint of guests’ travel to the island. They have no single-use plastics, bathroom amenities are in ceramic dispensers, toothbrushes are made of bamboo, toothpaste is in pill form to avoid the plastic packaging, and the slippers are biodegradable and compostable. The building has been thermally insulated and all windows are triple glazed. Water is heated with solar panels and rainwater is collected in a cistern. The hotel offers a discount to foreign guests who make the trip to the island by train (and ferry).
Fittingly, given Syros’ history, owners Jasmin and Oana are themselves descendants of the Greek diaspora in the Ottoman empire and were once child refugees. Oana says: “We have tried to make a beautiful home that also happens to offer everything that guests expect from a hotel. The vibe is relaxed but staff are professional and genuinely warm and kind. And we want the hotel to be connected to its culturally unique location, not just by virtue of being in Syros, but by being integrated in local culture and society. “
Hotel Aristide opens on April 1st with prices from EUR 240 per night with breakfast and transfers. Syros is a two-hour ferry ride from Athens or a 30-minute ferry ride from Mykonos.
Jasmin Aristide is a medical doctor in the Swedish Arctic. Oana Aristide is the author of critically acclaimed cli-fi novel “Under the Blue” published by Serpent’s Tail (one of The Sunday Times’ novels of the year).