Hotel Samos: A Tired Old Lady With Class

The Square's Lifestyle Editor, Robert Stephen, has stayed at Hotel Samos on three occasions.Photo by Robert Stephen.

The Square’s Lifestyle Editor, Robert Stephen, has stayed at Hotel Samos on three occasions.
Photo by Robert Stephen.

(SAMOS, GREECE) – Samos is a beautiful mountainous Greek island in the Aegean Sea, about an hour by air from Thessaloniki. Samos City, otherwise known by the locals as Vathy, is an ideal base to discover the island.

Vathy is on the waterfront and is crammed with restaurants and cafés. Particularly interesting is its main winding street off the shoreline with nooks and crannies reminiscent of a Turkish bazar. It has a wonderful waterfront promenade.

There is an archaeological museum and a byzantine museum and it is home to the main offices and a wine museum for the United Winemaking Agricultural Co-operative of Samos.

Samos is the choice of Syrian and African illegals who are housed in a camp, but wander the streets freely. You’ll see migrants here in Vathy, but not in the real beach-based tourist hot spots of the island. While the illegals are not exactly welcomed by the locals, their monthly allowance of 400 Euros is appreciated by merchants despite the increase in shoplifting and petty crime.

Samos is also a favourite island for visiting Germans, Dutch, and French.

There are a couple of beaches in the town which might rank as pleasant, but there are others on the island that rate as spectacular. Gagou Beach, my favourite local beach, has been “taken over” by the illegals. The local park is also flooded with border hoppers.

This is my third visit to Samos. I am staying at the Samos City Hotel. If you have a waterfront view from your room you’ll see the promenade on the sea peppered with more non-locals than locals and a tremendous view of the town, ocean, and mountains.

There are three categories of rooms as you can choose between regular, junior suite, and suite. For the city of Samos, this is most likely the top hotel and, although tourists and illegals are many, this is a working town and the business centre of the island.

There is not much of a choice of multi-starred hotels in Samos and, in any case, it is convenient for me as I am here on family business.

The hotel offers Wi-Fi, which is a bit spotty to say the least.

The hotel has a certain historic charm with lots of natural wood in its rooms . I am staying in an unrenovated room with a dated bathroom with no tub and a very old shower stall. There is air conditioning, which rattles when set at anything but low. The gigantic mirror facing the bed is chipped on the edges.

The lobby could be grand if we were back in 1970. Now it has an anachronistic charm. The exterior architecture is very catchy, in an almost modern temple style, painted in sandstone and white.

The rooms are kept meticulously clean. The pillows are adequate. The overhead fan is creaking and cracking. There is no mini-bar but a fridge instead. Given the proximity of a mini-mart near by who needs the inflated prices of a mini-bar?

The hotel labels itself a three a star, but it may better be described as a two.

In my hotel reviews for The Square, I primarily cover four and five-star hotels. It can be very interesting to see where a two or three-star hotel can differ from a 5. Let us take Hotel Samos as an example. Bear in mind the cost per night in the off season is less than $60 including breakfast. The busy tourist season starts in mid-June and runs to the end of September.

The hotel has a terrace with a pool and bar on the 5th floor. Hotel staff are super friendly and helpful. The hotel also has a main level café, restaurant, and bar.

On each balcony there is a drying rack for towels and bathing suits and any clothes you want to hand wash, which is particularly useful if you are on a long trip. While Hotel Samos has a certain historic charm in general, its whole structure needs updating. Even palaces require renovation.

The most glaring offender would be the bathroom which, at best, looks like a poorly constructed basement bathroom. Rusty pipes on the toilet, scraped paint on the bathroom door, a stopper in the sink that doesn’t work, and a very cramped shower area are in the two-star category. There are gaps in the caulking on the bathroom sink.

Renovation to the hotel is occurring in a piecemeal manner. Bear in mind which room you’re getting. The sea-side rooms offer a spectacular view.

There is no real physical security, although there are cameras. I have seen the front desk, which faces the street, momentarily vacant at times. Given the number of illegals strolling the street this causes me some concern.

Only the suites have safety deposit boxes. What are all these mini ants doing in the sink?

For a great wine producing island it’s strange that there are no wine glasses in the room. There’s no bellhop or concierge service, either.

Most European hotels include breakfast in their rates. American chains operating in Europe still often cling to the breakfast not included model.

The Samos Hotel doesn’t have the lush breakfast a five-star hotel would have, but it is not far off. Fresh fruit, Greek Yogurt with the traditional toppings, meats, cheeses, eggs, bacon, sausages, spinach pies, cakes, fruit juices, and an automatic coffee machine dispensing a variety of coffees. A decent selection of teas.

Proximity to the action?

Seven minutes by foot and you are in the main square. You are connected to the winding back streets and shopping district just behind the hotel. And you are a 15-minute walk to the local bus station.

Hotel Samos has its warts but, given its price, great breakfast, cleanliness, and wonderful staff, I would not hesitate to stay here again.

(Samos City Hotel, 83100 Samos, Greece)

The author received no compensation from Hotel Samos in the writing of this review.

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About the Author

Robert Stephen (CSW)
Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he loves The Square. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write." Email Robert Stephen

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