An intimate, elegantly restored hotel overlooking Symi’s pretty horseshoe harbour”
This is the old market, where sponges, spices, and silver were traded from 1884. Although a listed monument, the market had lain in ruins since it was bombed in 1944. After 5 years of painstaking restoration, a quietly opulent hotel emerged from the rubble, combining contemporary pleasures (percale linens, rain showers) with original features (flagstone floors, stone arches). In 2016, the neighbouring Captain's Mansion joined the ensemble, along with a secret courtyard garden and a lovely indoor pool. Our dream is to rent the whole place with friends – after all, the owners and their charming staff make you feel like special guests rather than paying customers.
- Genuine, personal, but thoroughly professional service from real island insiders
- Ideal location in the heart of the harbour but away from the hustle
- Superb à la carte Champagne breakfast served until 12 noon
- The special pleasure of staying in a listed monument with every modern comfort
- The hotel's rooms and suites span two properties (next door to each other), both with lovely harbour views
- Lots of steps to and from the hotel - so not suitable for those with limited mobility
- An indoor pool only and the nearest beach is a 20-minute walk or a short boat ride away
- Because of strict building restrictions, there are some quirky architectural features like sloping floors
- Not all rooms and suites have views
Best time to go
The Old Markets is open from May 1 to October 31. During the winter, it is available on request for exclusive use only.”
Our top tips
Day trippers and cruise boats from Rhodes descend on Symi around 11am and depart around 5pm, so it’s a good idea to escape the harbour during those hours.”
- Boutique hotel
- 10 rooms
- Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
- Best for older children
- Open all year
- Indoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
Rooms are divided between the original Main Hotel and the adjacent Captain’s Mansion – there are plans to connect them with a bridge. Andrew scoured antique markets for maps, silverware, and lamps. All technology is cleverly concealed to preserve the period mood. Thoughtful details abound - lightweight beach towels, a well-edited selection of travel books and Turkish delight at turndown.
Each of the Main Hotel rooms leading off the galleria is inspired by a trade route that once supplied The Old Markets. The Ottoman Room, features a spectacular hammam-style bathroom and has a domed brick ceiling converted from an original baker’s oven. It’s charming, but better for shorter stays. The Venetian Room references Symi’s sponge trade, with period antiques and paintings of Venice. The Arabian Room, shot through with purple and navy silks, has carved bedheads and an open-plan bathroom, stocked with organic Korres toiletries.
At the top of the galleria, it’s worth paying the premium for The Symi Suite, with its delicate stencilling on the soaring ceilings. The 2-metre square bed is extra high, so you can gaze at the view. It was a joy to fling open all 5 shutters in the morning. Apart from occasional rumblings from the nearby bars, mostly we were stirred by the soothing sounds of ship horns, fluttering sails, and church bells.
Opened in 2016, the Captain’s Mansion is nestled next door to the original hotel and centres on a courtyard garden with magnificent pink bougainvillea. Here you'll also find the pool house.
The vast Aegean Suite is ideal for families, with a stunning double-height lounge and a balcony looking down onto Symi harbour. There's a mezzanine double bedroom, and two singles in separate areas of the lounge. Honeymooners might prefer the hideaway Ouranos Suite, perched at the top of the building, with a light-filled lounge and a bedroom with harbour-view balcony. The Nimos, Chondros and Stroggilos Rooms have whitewashed walls and white bedspreads, with duck-egg blue armchairs and cushions. Their bathrooms combine exposed stonework with transparent glass washbasins and slick modern rain-showers – how refreshing.
- Air conditioning
- Ipod dock
- Safe box
- Satellite TV
Andrew is a professional chef, so eating at the hotel is a special event. Brunch classics like eggs Benedict and bacon panini are all made to order. Healthier options like homemade granola with Greek yoghurt, local honey, and artfully presented fruit are equally delicious. The peach and yoghurt smoothies are addictive.
Guests are also treated to an aperitivo on the terrace every evening, with spectacular views down onto Symi harbour. We enjoyed a well-chosen selection of Greek wines paired with delicious homemade Parmesan biscuits.
Each morning at breakfast, you get to see that evening's set dinner menu, which you can pre-order - the choice changes daily, depending how local seasonal produce inspires the chef. We had the candlelit terrace all to ourselves for a dinner of perfectly al dente pumpkin ravioli with thyme from the garden, pork tenderloin with a rich but subtle wild mushroom and saffron risotto, and chocolate torte with an unusual lavender ice cream. Service was impeccable – just the right balance of attentive and relaxed.
Beyond the hotel, Tholos Taverna is idyllically placed at the mouth of Yialos harbour, with tables right by the water. Tsati, along the waterfront, serves great mojitos and Marathouda has the best beach taverna, where hungry goats try to steal your zucchini fritters, deep-fried baby shrimps and tender calamari over the fence.
- Dinner by arrangement
- Lunch by arrangement
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Cooking classes
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Private guided tours
- Well being
Due to the historic nature of the hotel and steep steps, the property may be problematic for small children. Older children are welcome and the Aegean Suite offers spacious accommodation for a family of 4.
The hotel overlooks the historic harbour and is in the heart of Symi, the main town on Symi island in the Dodecanese Islands, Greece. Symi Town is sometimes divided into Gialos (or Yialos, the harbourside part) and Chorio (or Horio, the upper town).
The nearest airport is Rhodes Diagoras Airport, serviced several times a day by domestic airlines from Athens, Thessaloniki and Crete. It’s a 45-minute flight from Athens.
It’s often cheaper (and certainly quicker) to catch a charter flight direct to Rhodes (or Kos) from the UK and several other European countries. Most charter flights operate from May-October.
From Rhodes airport, it’s a 20-minute taxi (or bus) ride to the harbour. Boats leave from different harbours, so be sure to check in advance. Dodekanisos Seaways operates high-speed hydrofoils to Symi once or twice a day; the journey takes about 1 hour.
The slower (and cheaper) ANES ferries take 1hour 40 minutes – but often stop at Panormitis Monastery in southern Symi first, making it a much longer journey.
There is also an erratic and painfully slow ferry service from the port of Piraeus in Athens, which takes around 19 hours. A ferry from Piraeus to Rhodes takes 12-18 hours.
Car hire is not necessary. There are very few roads on Symi, and parking is very limited in the harbour (Yialos) and village (Chorio), which are mostly pedestrianised. Some beaches are accessible by footpaths, but even most far-flung bays are accessible by water taxi. You can also rent your own motorboat (just past the clock-tower, near where the ferries dock). A ‘driver’ costs extra.
Detailed directions will be provided when you book through i-escape.
- Rhodes 30.0 km RHO
- Kos 60.0 km KGS
- Beach 0.3 km
- Shops 0.1 km
- Restaurant 0.1 km