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.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Recruitment Genius: Processing Partner

    £15000 - £19200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Processing Partner is require...

    Recruitment Genius: PPC Manager - SW London

    £34000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist travel agent ba...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower