The car-free Greek island of Hydra is renowned for its architectural splendour, streets populated by donkey-pulled carts and deep, clear waters for swimming in the Aegean Sea. Grand mansions, dating from Hydra’s Venetian occupation in the 18th century to its time as a prosperous 19th-century trading port, line its busy, picturesque harbour. Many of its best hotels hark back to this Saronic island’s 1960s celebrity heyday, when artists and actors were drawn here. Here are the best hotels in Hydra, Greece – all bookable with Culture Trip.
This traditional 19th-century house is a former tapestry factory renovated into a boutique hotel, and it has the antique furnishings to show it. Offering a choice of six units across two storeys, you’re also only a three-minute walk – step-free, a rarity in hilly Hydra – from the harbour. Yet there’s a hushed ambience here in a quiet residential area, with some rooms overlooking the mountains rather than the lively port. Enjoy a continental breakfast or Greek specialities – such as spanakopita, a savoury spinach pie – on the rooftop terrace.
Built in 1796 by Count Orloff of Russia, on the grounds of a former convent and converted to a luxurious hotel in the 1980s, this historical place is your gateway to old-world elegance. Choose from six rooms and two suites, resplendent with period furniture, antique libraries and mosaics. Try a strapatsada (Greek omelette) for breakfast in the secret garden – also a popular wedding venue, so look out for dolled-up couples – amid aromatic lemon and olive trees, where Greece’s first perfume was created.
This former wealthy sea captain’s mansion – classified as a building of National Heritage by the Museum of Culture and a regular venue for art exhibitions – is impressive to say the least. Choose from 14 rooms, three of which are apartments, with views of either the sea or the garden. On the second floor you’ll even sleep beneath ceilings painted by Italian artists in 1810. And it’s just a three-minute walk away from Hydra’s port.
A couple of minutes away from Hydra’s port, this small boutique guesthouse offers tranquillity amid the humming cicadas. Take your pick of one of four minimalist-chic rooms, with the largest sleeping no more than three guests (no children). Decide whether you wish to be at ground level or with a balcony, with views across the pretty bougainvilleas to the harbour. The property is available to guests from 1 March to 31 October only, and the owner is extremely hospitable.
A carefully restored, 19th-century Hydrian mansion awaits, its lofty stone walls protecting you from the main harbour hub, just 200m (656ft) away. Relax in the quiet courtyard and garden or just survey Hydra’s beauty from the balcony. Revel in the architectural details: roofs made from chestnut trees, the loggia’s stone arches or tributes to merchandise gathered from ancient maritime voyages. There are two double rooms and five quirky suites, including a former cellar or antique-laden music room.
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The word bratsera was used by Greek sponge divers as a term for the mothership where they relaxed after their hours of solitary work at sea. This former 19th-century sponge factory is now an award-winning hotel, just two minutes from the main harbour. There are 25 rooms and suites – including some suitable for families – built in a U-shape around an outdoor swimming pool. Given the size, it’s also a popular business retreat, and has a restaurant, conference room and fitness centre to boot.
Use the lion-shaped knocker on the 250-year-old double doors and rewind the clock at this guesthouse, built in 1780. It has been faithfully restored into three apartments: the Manor House (sleeps six), the Mezzanine Suite (sleeps three) and the Port House (sleeps four). It’s 150m (492ft) from the main port and sumptuously surrounded by a garden of orange and lemon trees, with a marble fountain and limestone pool. Breakfast baskets are provided.
A four-minute walk up a cobbled hill from Hydra’s port, this hotel – once one of the largest bakeries on the island – has 19 standard rooms to choose from. One of Greco’s major highlights is its lush gardens where a buffet breakfast is served, and you could easily spend an hour or two sitting on a bamboo chair under an umbrella, surrounded by bougainvillea trees while plotting your day’s activities.
Awarded the best historic hotel in Greece for two consecutive years, Hydrea sits right on Hydra’s busy port. Built in 1803 and once a private mansion, Hydrea has five different types of suites for two people, with either port or sea views. Some also have private terraces and bathrooms that include jacuzzis. You’ll need to negotiate steep steps to the entrance, but it’s worth the climb.