B&B and Beyond: St Thomas B&B, Athens

Nothing's too much trouble for the landlady of the Greek capital's only bed and breakfast, as Lucy Gillmore finds out

The B&B concept is something we're so familiar with we barely give it a second thought; it's ingrained in our national consciousness. What's more, in recent years the humble B&B has upped its game and now many are more like mini boutique hotels. So whether it's a cosy stone farmhouse in the Cotswolds, a clapboard cottage on a vineyard in New Zealand or a grand French château, we are used to B&Bs being a viable accommodation option when we're planning our holidays. Not so in Greece …

Luxury villas, self-catering flats, boutique hotels, yes, but the B&B as we know it hasn't really developed here. With a stopover in Athens looming, I had scoured the internet and found a handful of supposed B&Bs – but the rooms in student-style flats with shared bathrooms seemed more like an attempt to generate extra cash than a career choice. I was about to give up and book a hotel when I came across St Thomas B&B on the outer fringes of the city – run by a woman from ... Newcastle.

 

The Bed

Janet Wilkinson's is the only real, or at least recognisable, B&B in Athens. And it's all because of the Olympics. In the run up to the 2004 Games, the Greek government asked people to open their homes to guests. Janet did – and enjoyed it so much that she decided to carry on. Her lovely villa is set back from the road and surrounded by trees in Peania, on the outskirts of the capital. Still largely agricultural, with swathes of olive trees, it's handily located between the airport and the city.

There are four B&B en-suite rooms: Wisteria, Lavender, Olive and the Garden Suite. Lavender and Olive on the top floor have balconies overlooking the lush garden and swimming pool. The Garden Suite in the basement is perfect for families, with two rooms and its own direct access to the garden. We were in Wisteria, ostensibly on the ground floor but up a flight of stairs from the front garden. A large airy room in soft creams and mauves, with a wrought-iron bedstead and candles flickering in the fireplace when we arrived, it was cosy and welcoming – as were the little miniatures of ouzo: the perfect nightcap.

The Breakfast

Breakfast is served by the pool, beneath gnarled olive trees. The spread included scrambled eggs, freshly baked bread and homemade marmalade and plum jam, strawberries, Greek yoghurt and honey – and cornflakes. A tree in the garden produced the fruit for the freshly squeezed orange juice.

 

The Hosts

Janet first came to Athens in 1976 looking for an adventure, got a job in the Greek capital, met Aris, fell in love and never went home. They raised their two children in the villa. It's a bit like staying with your mum. Janet loves meeting people and stays in touch with many of her guests. She says: "I've never travelled the world, but the world comes to me!"

She is a naturally hospitable and helpful host. How many other B&B owners would pick you up at the airport? "I couldn't have people arriving in a strange country and taking a taxi. They might get ripped off!" The meet-and-greet service comes as standard.

 

The Weekend

There are vineyards and olive-oil makers to visit nearby, but the centre of Athens is just a short hop on the sleek and shiny Metro, a five-minute drive through the olive groves. Janet didn't just drop us off, of course – she took us in, bought the tickets for us, pointed us in the direction of the right platform and told us to call when we wanted picking up.

Half an hour later we were mooching around the winding streets of touristy Plaka, stocking up on olive-oil soaps and lunching at a neighbourhood taverna. We were so relaxed, in fact, that we didn't stroll toward the Acropolis until 4pm – only to find that it closes at 3pm at the weekend. The stunning new state-of-the-art Acropolis Museum (00 30 210 900 0900; theacropolismuseum.gr; €5/£3.90) almost made up for it, the Parthenon framed by its huge picture windows.

 

The Pit Stop

Eat at Miltons (00 30 210 32 49 129; eatatmiltons.gr), at 91 Adrianou, is a stylish part-open-air restaurant in Plaka with a menu by Michelin-starred chef Alain Parodi, who has taken a traditional Greek and Mediterranean menu and lightened and modernised it. The decor style is contemporary beach house. Try the risotto with squid ink or saffron and calamari (€16) or sweet pepper with marinated anchovies and sardines stuffed with spinach and feta (€12).

The Essentials

St Thomas B&B, 21 St Thomas, Peania, Athens, Greece (00 30 210 602 9367; stay-in-athens.com). Double rooms start at €80, including breakfast.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
football
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering