Mazaraki Guesthouse

Sparta, Peloponnese, Greece Book from Eur85

Reviewed by Jane Foster
Beautifully furnished self-catering suites plus a cafe and sunny pool, just 2km from Unesco-listed Mystras
Overlooking the vast Laconian Plain, with the peaks of the Taygetus mountains rising into the horizon, Mazaraki Guesthouse lies in the pretty hamlet of Pikoulianika. Built into a hillside, it is surrounded by pine woods, cypresses, olive trees and fresh-water streams. Upon arrival, you head to the cafe, with its mis-matched furniture and a terrace lined with potted basil and geraniums. Welcoming staff and wafts of freshly-baked cakes create a breezy, informal atmosphere. Neighbouring stone buildings are home to 10 spacious suites with kitchens, and 1 double room, each named after the natural world (Flowers, Olive, Sky) and decorated in respective colours. There's also a small pool.

From the guesthouse, it's a 2km-walk down to medieval Mystras, an abandoned fortified town capped by a 13th-century hilltop castle. Flights of stone steps zig-zag between the ruins and half-a-dozen beautifully frescoed Byzantine churches and monasteries. The final resident left in 1952, and today Mystras is a wonderfully atmospheric site, one of our favourite spots in the Peloponnese.

Highs

  • A great option for those who want to explore inland Greece: stunning mountains, medieval ruins, slow food
  • We loved the spacious, rustic-chic accommodation with private terraces (and the prices)
  • Delicious and varied breakfasts included in the rates and delivered to your door
  • Stunning views over verdant plains and up to snowy peaks
  • Friendly staff, who know how to look after their guests

Lows

  • Set in the hills, and approached up a twisty country road, it can be tricky to find; you'll need a car
  • The pool is quite small, and visible from the road
  • No village life as such - just a small shop and a couple of local restaurants
  • The nearest ATM is in Sparta (9km), the nearest beach near Gythio (50km)

Best time to go

Spring or autumn are ideal - the weather is warm and sunny (perfect for hiking and cycling), and flights are generally cheaper. In peak season (Jul-Aug), most people head for the coast; however, due to altitude, surrounding woodland and fresh water springs, Pikoulianika is refreshingly cool on summer nights, making it a welcome escape from both the crowds and the heat. During winter, Mazaraki Guesthouse offers a cosy retreat, complete with log fires.

Our top tips

There's a breathtaking 2-hour hike up the limestone gorge from the pretty village of Parori (tavernas with fresh grilled trout), past the silent and inspiring cave-chapel of Langadiotissa and dramatic orange cliff walls, to the monastery of Faneromeni, where a lone English-speaking monk welcomes you with loukoumi and a tour of the frescoed chapel (generally open 9-2 and 5-7; wear long sleeves).

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 10
  • Breakfast; self catering; cafe/wine bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 22 Dec 2015 - 31 Dec 2015
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

The rooms are freshly whitewashed, with stone, polished concrete or wood detail. Most have fireplaces or a wood-burning stove, a couple have Jacuzzi baths, and all have a private balcony or veranda. Each sleeps 2-3, except Branches, which sleeps 4-5. Expect a mix of Greek rusticity (sheepskin rugs, chunky olive-wood shelves) with a playful injection of contemporary design (pink sinks, red phones and feature light bulbs).

We stayed in Flowers, which had a cosy living room with sofa and balcony; a compact kitchen with pine cupboards; a polished concrete bathroom with a shower, big white oval washbasin and Korres toiletries; and a bedroom with a big comfy bed, subtle lighting and another balcony. Slightly quirkier is Olive, with its open-plan living space and a larger-than-life rural wall-photo. We also liked Pomegranate, whose fabrics and brickwork provide splashes of namesake orange-red.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Fridge
  • Hairdryer
  • Kitchens in the suites
  • Phone
  • Terrace
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Daily breakfasts are delivered in a wicker basket, at the hour of your choice. Each evening, you fill in a form to say what you'd like the next morning - freshly squeezed orange juice, local seasonal fruit (we had strawberries in May), yoghurt, homemade cake and more. Later in the day, the cafe is open for coffee, cake, tapas and wine (ideal for lunch but closed in the evenings).

Each suite (but not the double room) has a well-equipped kitchen, with a hob and fridge, stocked with basics including coffee, tea, sugar and olive oil. Branches has an oven, too. There are no grocery shops in the hamlet so you'll need to drive to Sparta to stock up.

A short walk away, you'll find Chromata, serving creative Mediterranean cuisine on a terrace with amazing views down onto the plain; expect colourful salads, mushroom risotto, local cheeses, and good house wine. Or try nearby Skreka, serving traditional Greek taverna fare, such as tiropitakia (little cheese pies), horiatiki (Greek salad) and homemade burgers with chips.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Café
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Spend at least a day at medieval Mystras (2km), a fortified Byzantine town built into a steep hillside, now abandoned but proclaimed a Unesco World Heritage site
  • Go cycling in the Taygetos mountains, criss-crossed by marked trails (mountain bikes and maps available for guests)
  • There are stunning hikes from your doorstep: one of our favourites is the loop from Mystras to Taygeti and Pergandeika (walk 19 in the Sunflower guide)
  • Visit Sparta (9km) and see the ruins of ancient Sparta, the archaeological museum and the museum of the olive and Greek olive oil
  • Drive south to the handsome harbour town of Gythio (50km) and swim at Vathi (aka Ageranos) sand beach, one of the prettiest in the region
  • Continue to Diros Sea Caves near Areopolis (60km) - you enter the huge cavern by boat and the stalactites and stalagmites are spectacular

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Beaches
  • Caving
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Swimming
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Families are welcome and baby cots/extra beds are available in the suites and apartment. The property is built into a steep hillside and the pool is unfenced, so it's not great for toddlers. Older children will enjoy Mystras.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Branches has 2 rooms - 1 double bedroom and a living room that can be set up as a twim bedroom instead, with space for an extra single bed, too. The Suites and Deluxe Suites can each fit an extra bed or baby cot.

Families Should Know:

The kitchens have hobs but no microwaves or ovens, except Branches, which has an oven.

Kid Friendly: low quality - have asked for orig (MC)

Our guests' ratings...

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

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