Koula's House

Skiathos, Greece Book from Eur45

Reviewed by Emma Howarth
Small, stylish bolthole with wraparound sea views in the atmospheric Plakes area of Skiathos Town - 5 rooms, 2 apartments and great value for money
Hidden away in the old part of Skiathos Town yet minutes from the waterfront action, the apartments and rooms at this carefully renovated traditional house prove that sometimes you really can have it both ways. The location could not be better: just wander down the stone steps at the side of the building and you'll find a ladder into the clear seas below. With the Aegean as your plunge pool, you can stay in town without sacrificing swimming time.

This is an obvious choice for party-season night owls who’ll appreciate the easy stroll home, but the low-key vibe and breezy terraces are equally suited to those with a more relaxing break in mind. However you choose to spend your time, the simple but chic styling, personal service and wallet-friendly prices make this the kind of place you’ll only want to share with your closest friends. Indeed, despite being one of Skiathos’ oldest pensions (the first guests stayed in 1955), Koula’s House is so under the radar that even some of the island’s best-connected locals don’t realise it exists.

Highs

  • Mesmerizing sea views: we loved sitting on the terrace, glass in hand, watching the comings and goings of Skiathos harbour
  • The personal touch: owner Nina is a mine of local information and really goes out of her way to ensure guests feel at home
  • The 2 apartments each have a private terrace and a kitchenette for rustling up snacks and light meals, while the 5 rooms share access to a gorgeous terrace with plenty of comfy seating
  • The chic furnishings and supremely comfortable beds feel like they should belong somewhere with a much higher price tag
  • It feels great to stroll past the harbourside taxi queue after a late-night dinner knowing your bed is just minutes away

Lows

  • They can be slow to reply to enquiries
  • Depending on the direction of the wind, there can be some low-level noise at night from the clubs on the other side of the harbour
  • Breakfast isn't provided and none of the rooms have cooking facilities - but there are shops and a bakery a few minutes away
  • Rooms are compact, especially #2 and #3 (which also lack sea views and ensuite bathrooms), but this is reflected in the price
  • This property is not suitable for toddlers, due to copious steep steps and the rocky water-side location
  • The building site to the left of the property (unfinished but not being worked on when we visited) doesn’t add much to the view towards town

Best time to go

The main season here runs from May to October but the hotel is open outside these dates, too. The busiest period is typically the 2 weeks in August leading up to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on 15 August (a big holiday in the Greek calendar). For empty beaches and idyllic walking weather come in May or September; for high-season buzz and a party vibe join the crowds in late July or early August.

Our top tips

  • We visit Skiathos every summer and look forward to catching up on a winter’s worth of local gossip. And we're not the only ones who love a Skiathos story. The island’s most famous son Alexandros Papadiamantis paints a mystical picture of traditional Skiathos life in Tales from a Greek Island, while American actor, writer and adopted Skiathiti Richard Romanus’ Sketches of Skiathos has modern-day appeal (sold at the bookshop on Papadiamantis Street)
  • Don’t leave the island without taking a boat trip to Tsougria or eating at our all-time favourite taverna Agnadio, on Evangelistria Monastery Road (booking is essential)
  • Great for...

    Beach
    Cheap & Chic
    Honeymoon
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Guesthouse
    • 5 rooms + 2 apartments
    • Self-catering (walk to restaurants)
    • 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
    • Daily Maid Service
    • Towels & Bedlinen
    • Concierge Service
    Room:

    Rooms

    Clean lines, warm neutrals and top-quality (mostly Coco Mat) mattresses ensure the compact rooms and apartments strike just the right balance between style and comfort. Discreet shades of white, cream and grey prevail both indoors and out, where you’ll also find spacious tiled terraces (communal for the rooms) with fantastic views. Beds are made with plump pillows and fresh linens, while adornments are kept to a minimum with just the occasional statement light or beachy driftwood mirror. The small bathrooms are similarly neutral: think matt grey tiles, powerful showers (no tubs) and products by cult Greek beauty brand Apivita.

    The 5 rooms are on the first-floor and no matter which you choose, you’ll be just steps from the spacious communal terrace, where there’s plenty of seating from which to admire the coastal views. Rooms 1, 4 and 5 all offer blue skies and limpid waters as far as the eye can see, but our pick has to be Room 4 for its spellbinding double aspect windows. There are also 2 smaller ‘economy’ rooms (Rooms 2 and 3) which, unlike the other rooms, don’t have ensuite bathrooms - they each have a private bathroom down the corridor, instead - and look towards the building next door. Though not as comfortable as the larger rooms, they are competitively priced and would suit those who plan to be out and about for most of their stay.

    If privacy is your top priority, go for one of the apartments, both of which have their own outdoor spaces and small kitchenettes. We stayed right at the top of the building in the bijou Sun Apartment - an open-plan studio with a double bed - and loved breakfasting on its suntrap terrace. The spacious 2-bedroom Sea Apartment has a fantastically secluded feel with a large terrace and a private entrance.

    All rooms have window mosquito nets, air-conditioning, flatscreen TVs, free WiFi and a daily maid service.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Bathrobes
    • Coffee tea making
    • Cots Available
    • Extra beds
    • Hairdryer
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Mosquito net
    • Safe box
    • Terrace
    • Toiletries
    • Tv
    • WiFi
    • Wifi internet

    Eating

    You’ll find a generous platter of fresh fruit, along with water, wine, tea and coffee, to welcome you on arrival, but other than that, you'll have to fend for yourself. But with the restaurants and ouzeris of Skiathos Town mere minutes away, that’s no bad thing. The 5 bedrooms don’t have cooking facilities but they do have access to a well-stocked crockery cupboard and a large shared fridge (with a selection of drinks and snacks, honesty bar style). There is ample dining space on the communal terrace and several small supermarkets within easy walking distance - pick up some croissants or grab something light at one of the nearby coffee bars.

    In the apartment kitchenettes you’ll find a kettle, coffee machine, fridge, hob (the Sea Apartment also has an oven), and all the glasses, bowls and cutlery you need to knock up a relaxed alfresco breakfast or lunch. The facilities aren’t really up to serious cooking, so this is somewhere that’s best suited to those who love eating out.

    Just seconds from the hotel, Psaradika does a nice line in fresh fish, atmospheric lighting and low-key charm. Another waterfront favourite is taverna Kabourelias, particularly in low season when the view switches from island tour boats to local fishing caiques. On the other side of the harbour near the club strip, Bakaliko is making waves with its traditional cooking, excellent wine list and water’s edge setting. A short walk away on Papadiamantis Street, check out slick deli/restaurant Ergon or slip down a side street (the one opposite the cinema) for bargain gyros and souvlaki at crazy-busy-for-a-reason No Name.

    Features include:

    • Coffee tea making
    • Honesty fridge
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Restaurants nearby
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Make the most of the Skiathos Town location: visit the Bourtzi or Papadiamantis’ House Museum; see an exhibition at the Little Art & Culture Gallery on Papadiamantis Street; catch the late show at the open-air cinema; join in the buzzing nightlife; wander the narrow backstreets browsing boutiques as you go
    • Explore some of the island’s most beautiful beaches: swanky Ampelakia, windswept Mandraki, hippy-chic Kechria - or walk 15 mins to nearby Megali Ammos, perfect for lazy afternoons (though busy in summer)
    • Take a trip up into the hills for chirping lovebirds, courtyard geraniums and icons galore at the beautiful Evangelistria Monastery and Museum
    • Check out the island’s well-marked network of forest hiking trails; tours can be arranged or do-it-yourself using Ortwin Widmann’s excellent guide Skiathos: Hiking in the Aegean Paradise
    • Arrange a boat trip (Nina can advise on the best charters) around the island or head out to one of the tiny, uninhabited islets (such as Tsougria or Arkos) dotted around the harbour
    • Watch the world go by from the serene hotel terrace or one of the buzzy coffee shops along the waterfront
    • Follow the steps from the hotel directly into the sea

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Fishing
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Horse-riding
    • Mountain biking
    • Museums / galleries
    • Nightlife
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Sailing
    • Snorkelling
    • Swimming

    Kids

    While children of all ages are welcome, we would not recommend the hotel for families with toddlers due to the steep steps down to the sea. Not-yet-mobile babies will be fine, and families with older children will find this an excellent base for exploring the island - those with nightlife-loving teens may find they never want to leave!

    Best for:

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

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Both the apartments are excellent choices for families. The 2-bedroom Sea Apartment can sleep 5 with the addition of an extra bed, while the Sun Apartment has space for a cot or extra bed, making it ideal for a couple with one child in tow. The 2 ‘economy’ rooms are a good option for older children who want their own space but the reassurance of parents just across the corridor.

    Babysitting:

    Babysitting can be arranged on request.

    Baby equipment:

    Baby cots are available on request, and there are mosquito nets on all windows.

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

    Families Should Know:

    Lots of steep steps in and around the property, which set on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea.

    Distances:

    • Airport: 2km (Skiathos)
    • Doctor/Hospital: 300m (Skiathos Town)
    • Shops: 100m (Skiathos Town)
    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    10/
    Rooms
    8/
    Food
    9/
    Service
    10/
    Value
    9/
    Overall

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