Hotel Emporio

Symi, Greece Book from Book from £180 per night

Idyllic island B&B with romantic rooms and a self-catering cottage-for-2 in a lush waterfront garden
Overlooking peaceful Nimborio Bay on the tiny Greek island of Symi, this elegant B&B feels as if it's been here for centuries. In fact, it was built in the 1990s by a well-travelled British family in search of a secluded Mediterranean hideaway a stone's throw from the sea. They furnished it with foreign artworks and antiques gathered from trade routes around the world: wood-carvings from Sri Lanka, Persian rugs and Chinese vases. Emporio means ‘trade’ and in ancient times Nimborio Bay was Symi's merchant shipping port.

Transformed into a hotel in summer 2017, Emporio is now a laid-back island haven where couples and small families can retreat from the world. Set in beautifully landscaped terraces - planted with fig and olive trees, pines, oleander and fragrant rosemary, with leafy spots for sunbeds and hammocks - Emporio has 5 romantic rooms and a gorgeous garden cottage. Cooked-to-order breakfast and light meals are served on a blissful sea-view terrace but it's just a short taxi ride - or picturesque walk along a donkey track - to the shops and restaurants of Symi Town with its pastel-coloured neoclassical houses hugging a deep azure bay.

Highs

  • Secluded setting in a Mediterranean hillside garden overlooking the sea
  • Beautifully styled rooms with sea-view terraces; one is in a tower with its very own rooftop sundeck
  • All rooms have fridges, some have kitchens; weekly barbecues in the garden
  • The delicious freshly cooked Greek breakfast in relaxed surroundings is a heavenly way to start the day
  • English owner Andrew is a truly excellent hotelier and all his staff are lovely, too

Lows

  • Only light meals available so unless you book one of the rooms with kitchen facilities, you'll have to head to Symi Town for lunch or dinner (2.5km)
  • There's no pool but you can swim in the beautifully clear sea at nearby Nimborio Beach (pebble)
  • A bit cut off from the nightlife in Symi Town but ideal for star-gazing
  • No televisions or telephones in the rooms - the idea being that you came here to escape them
  • The WiFi code requires your partner's consent!

Best time to go

Try to come in the shoulder season (May-June and September-October) to avoid the tourist crowds and the mid-summer heat. These months are ideal for hiking and the sea is still warm enough for swimming. If you visit in July-August, you'll catch the Symi Festival, with free open-air concerts, theatre and after-dark films, but it will be very busy.

Our top tips

On the hillside behind Emporio, there's a small monastery. While you're having breakfast, listen out for the monks' mystical chanting as they celebrate the Greek Orthodox mass – it doesn't take place every day, but when it does, it's usually around 10am.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • Boutique B&B
  • 5 rooms and a garden cottage
  • Breakfast + light meals on request; restaurants 2.5km away
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

Each room is individually and beautifully styled to compliment the stunning views. All are equipped with natural Coco-Mat mattresses, Nespresso coffee machines, Korres toiletries and a sea-view balcony or terrace.

The hotel’s most extravagant room is the Lavender suite, with high wooden ceilings and a traditional mezzanine area. An oversized tapestry hangs above the chunky wooden bed while double doors open out onto a spacious terrace. In contrast, tiny Jasmine is an impossibly romantic hideaway for couples, up in the tower with stunning 270-degree views and complete privacy from the rooftop sundeck. We had a very comfortable stay in spacious Bougainvillea, with its raised kingsize bed, mahogany floors and marble bathroom. Sundowners on the enchanting wooden balcony were a memorable way to end the day. Ideal for families, Hibiscus is a 2-room suite with cool flagstone floors and kitchenette, while Rosemary has double and twin beds in one room.

Tucked away in the garden, close to the water's edge, Oleander Cottage is fully self-contained with an open-plan living area, kitchen, kingsize bedroom and rooftop terrace with sunbeds.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Bluetooth sound system
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast on the sea-view terrace above the garden is a joy. Start with freshly squeezed orange juice, Greek yoghurt with honey, delicious homemade granola and freshly sliced fruit, then order a pan-fried Symi omelette with feta cheese and tomato, before lingering over a good strong espresso coffee. For the rest of the day, the kitchen serves snacks, including bruschette, sandwiches and Greek salads. If you feel like a drink, help yourself to a cold beer of a glass of wine from the honesty bar in the garden.

All rooms have fridges and Hibiscus and Oleander Cottage have kitchenettes, but most guests wander (or take a taxi) down to Symi Town (2.5km) for dinner. Reserve a table at sister-hotel the Old Markets, for a set-menu supper on a lovely candlelit terrace above the bay, or try Tholos, the best spot for a plate of renowned Symi shrimps, at a table overlooking the harbour.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Find a hidden spot in the terraced garden; bring a book and snooze on a sunbed, or arrange for a massage under the trees
  • Swim and sunbathe at nearby pebble beaches: Nimborio and Nos (town beach) are the closest; in-room beach towels are provided
  • Take a taxi-boat around the island to more distant beaches - we especially liked Agios Nikolaos, with a whitewashed chapel, an informal taverna and sunbeds shaded by 2 rows of tamarisk trees
  • Explore Symi Town, with pastel-coloured neoclassical mansions built around 3 sides of a deep bay
  • Try stand-up paddle boarding - Emporio has SUPs for guests to borrow
  • Visit Panormitis Monastery, close to the island's southern tip, decorated with Byzantine frescoes and silver-plated icons, much loved by Greek Orthodox pilgrims

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Stand-up paddle boarding
  • Swimming
  • Well being

Kids

Kids will love exploring this luxurious hideaway, with its lush garden and nearby beaches. However, the mood is refined and romantic, so it might not be ideal for noisy children. The restaurants and shops of Symi Town are 2.5km away, so if your little ones aren't great walkers you might want to consider hiring a car or taking a taxi.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Hibiscus combines a double and a twin room, plus a small kitchen, making it ideal for families wanting a little privacy. Rosemary is more intimate with a double and twin beds in the same room (no kitchen). A separate cottage in the garden, Oleander, has full kitchen facilities and would suit a couple with a baby.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Distances:

  • Airport: 32km (Rhodes)
  • Shops: 2.5km
  • Pharmacy: 2.5km
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

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Rates for Hotel Emporio