That philoxenia feeling: checking in to xenodocheio Milos

xenodocheio Milos has opened as the first luxury boutique hotel falling under the banner of renowned Greek restaurant, estiatorio Milos. The 43-key hotel, in the centre of Athens, has taken the brand’s baton as it prepares to carry the inspiring Milos story into its next chapter…

double volume restaurant with white on white decor and sculpture on the ceiling

You cannot escape history when in Athens – as you walk through the city, your path is punctuated by small yet perfectly formed churches and cobbled pavements, not to mention the odd slightly weathered-looking Doric column. But what is also evident is that there is a lot more to Athens than the Acropolis as the city displays a vibrant combination of the traditional and the contemporary. It is this unique mix of local and international, simplicity and luxury, traditional and contemporary that the architects and designers of the recently opened xenodocheio Milos explored at every level. Following its arrival, the hotel invited Hotel Designs to step inside and enjoy a curated and well-designed Athenian ‘home from home’ experience.

The thread running through the brand ethos as well as the hotel design is the concept of philoxenia – the sacred art of making a stranger feel at home – and it is the attention to detail and individuality within each space that allows for a personalised experience, which surely is the ultimate luxury. By embracing the neo-classical bones of the original structure, and then layering elements of design that both reflect and elevate the location, the designers have translated the estiatorio Milos philosophy from the menu onto the moodboard, making for a cohesive experience throughout both the hotel and the restaurant as a destination.

view over Athens with xenodocheio in the foreground and the Acropolis in the backgound

Image credit: xenodocheio Milos

With Syntagma square to the side and the Acropolis on the horizon, xenodocheio Milos has made its mark on what is arguably the perfect city-centre location. And it’s not all ancient history. The hotel is within striking distance of a thriving contemporary cultural scene with more than its fair share of boutiques and galleries – not to mention a fabulous Greek pastry shop that was irresistible despite a hearty hotel breakfast – that is fast making Athens a designer destination.

It is this comfortable juxtaposition of the ancient and the modern that has been translated by the architecture studios A1 Architects and Divercity Architects from the facade of the hotel though to the layers and lighting within. With a footprint spanning two sympathetically restored buildings, the gap between the buildings is bridged with a subtle, contemporary glass fronted structure. This design reference is again replicated on the additional floors, and makes a reflective statement of its own.

reception area at xenodocheio milos in natural materials and colours with accents of blue

Image credit: xenodocheio Milos

There is a boutique intimacy from the moment you walk in, and that concept of Greek philoxenia that is again becomes apparent. Journeying out of reception, a space punctuated by bold graphic splashes of blue and understated design, and into the 43-key hotel, your journey through the hotel is directed by contrasting levels of light. From the double volume of the entrance and the restaurant both with dramatic statement lighting, to the more cocooning and subdued passageways which finally open into guestrooms filled with natural light. All the guestrooms have been designed facing onto the front of the building to maximise the natural light of the city, and as you step out of the public space into the privacy of the room you are greeted by the sunshine which not only lights the room and but shifts design gears throughout the day.

With interiors by Divercity Architects and Carole Topin, the guestrooms and suites all reference the location primarily through the use of materials, championing locally sourced marble and wood. While the colours of the Aegean inform the palette, the minimal lines avoid any cliches. Again it is about juxtaposition; simplicity and luxury, minimalism and comfort through attention to detail. Detail which extends to the individuality of all guestrooms and suites, each with its own configuration and flavour.

warm tones of wood contrast with crisp white linen in the guestroom at xenodocheiou Milos

Image credit: xenodocheio Milos

There is an inherent generosity in the design – the underlying feeling of the entire xenodocheio Milos experience is that it is about optimising space and comfort rather than room numbers. You can walk into the shower – beautifully clad in the locally sourced white Dionysus marble – with room to dance, should that be your thing. In contrast, the guestrooms are full of bespoke textures and the warmth of wood. The classic lines of the Greek oak table in the room allows for workspace, if you insist, but it is also the perfect place for a private dinner along with a lighting setting that provides restaurant ambiance in the privacy of your room.

Again lighting is a key feature running through the room design with an inordinate attention to detail, from task to ambient through to statement feature lights ensuring that guests can easily – functionality being key to good design – apply mascara, read a book, or sip on a glass of Greek wine!

white Greek marble bathroom with dark blue accents looking out over the rooftops of Athens

Image credit: xenodocheio Milos

In addition to the 43 guestrooms, the hotel shelters a spa and a fitness centre, both of which deliver the quality and understated luxury that fits seamlessly with the rest of the design. The spa provides a restorative respite after a day in the city, and rather than being about trends or wellness gimmicks, is about the power of the personal interaction in combination with locally sourced product and attention to detail.

In addition there are private spaces both within the hotel and on the terrace for events and meeting should guests require. A private dining space on the mezzanine level of the restaurant is on the agenda, where guests will be able to enjoy both the privacy of the space along with the trademark Estiatorio ambiance.

calm and subdued light in the Elemis spa at xenodocheio Milos

Image credit: xenodocheio Milos

Having explored the city and restored the body, it is time to feed the soul in what is essentially the design axis of this hotel as xenodocheio Milos has positioned itself as a gastronomic hotel experience in the heart of Athens, with the ground floor and mezzanine home to the newest fine dining destination restaurant in the estiatorio Milos portfolio. With restaurants in seven locations spread across two continents, chef Costas Spiliadis’ culinary legacy has returned to its roots in Athens, and with its focus on culinary excellence, unparalleled service and premium Greek wines, guests are in for truly authentic epicurean adventure at this luxury destination in downtown Athens.

fish baked in salt at estiatorio Milos Athens

Image credit: Image credit: xenodocheio Milos

The light and the volume of the design underpinning the restaurant makes a strong statement, paired with a unique design narrative where the values of hospitality, authenticity, and precision are celebrated. The space has been designed to hero the food, a beautifully designed backdrop for the simple yet extraordinary gastronomy to excel. Again lighting is integral to the design, with a combination of strong statement and natural light bouncing off the white reflective surfaces and textures. On entering the restaurant your eyes are immediately drawn up to the bespoke ceiling artwork by the Greek sculptor Dimitris Fortsas – always look up!

Inspired by the timeless minimalism of the Cycladic art and the lightness and rhythm of the harp, a sculptural staircase – a key feature designed by Divercity Architects, links the ground floor to the mezzanine. The grandeur of the height, the strength of the architecture all in combination with that white on white palette clearly references the historical architecture of Greece while allowing the food and inimitable xenodocheio service to be the hero.

sculptural staircase linking two levels in the restaurant

Image credit: xenodocheio Milos

xenodocheio Milos has opened its boutique doors onto what can only be described as a burgeoning boutique scene in the city – Athens is coming out of a period of financial crisis which was swiftly followed by the pandemic, but is emerging from all of that as a creative power with a vibrant design culture. It is a city that is standing up and getting noticed as a destination rather than a stop over to a designer island holiday. It is within this ongoing narrative of the boutique hotel scene in the city that xenodocheio Milos is making a bold statement – one that is all  about considered luxury, about embracing the whole while elevating the elements, it is about creating that Athenian home-from-home imbued with the spirit of philoxenia..

Main image credit: xenodocheio Milos