No place in the world makes me feel uplifted and free, like I feel in Filoti.
After a 3-day trip of cancelled flights, due to bad weather in Athens, I made the 20 minutes’ flight to Naxos. A flight from Athens to Naxos takes about 20 to 30 minutes, the ferry (Art of the Aegean Sea) takes about 5 hours, whichever way you choose to travel there you will love the journey.
My heart sang as we touched down on the island. You see, Naxos has been pulling at my heartstrings ever since the very first time I visited. I know one day in the midst of a midlife moment I will grab a backpack and move to Filoti, Naxos.
I had to edit a novel I had written a long time ago that had been put aside for another day. That day became 8 years, but like the saying goes “each dog has its day” so does each book has its time. Bones of our Past is a book about the sometimes fractured, but always amazing relationship between women. The women in Bones of our Past are multi-faceted and yet appears be one-dimensional at times. But you must read it to come to your own conclusions. The point of this piece is, I had to go somewhere beautiful, light, and inspiring, in order to bury myself in such a dark, yet uplifting novel.
No place in the world makes me feel uplifted and free like I feel in Filoti, Naxos. This place is like mine very own secret place to be awed, to heal, and most of all to create.
I chose my accommodations at Giannakis Hotel in the heart of Filoti months before my arrival, because I liked the looks of it and the honesty of it. I wanted somewhere quiet, close to a bakery, with many tavernas to choose from nearby, ideally a place in the square…but quiet. Somewhere with a view, a place where I could be whisked away just from looking out the window.
Upon arrival, a young woman with the kindest smile greeted me. She was very professional and a bit shy almost, but I quickly realised the shyness was her charm, her gentle welcome. Meet Katerina, one of the owners, whose vision transformed a neglected space into beautiful rooms for guests from around the world to come enjoy the Filoti experience.
Giannakis was not what I expected, and yet more than I expected. The unique “lobby” made me feel very welcome. There was no clacking of computers, nor dull music, nor over bright indoor lights and plants, none of that.
Giannakis is located on a quiet side street, across from the bakery and a literal 5 meters from the square, a square that is ringed by many lovely tavernas.
The hotel is a lovely white building with blue doors and windows. The building is tucked up on the slope of the street and adjacent to a small overflowing orange grove hedged in by ancient rosemary bushes. The fragrance of oranges and rosemary will always bring me back to that tranquil 3 weeks I spent there.
I lugged my bags up the steep and short stairway that led right into an outdoor seating area, a cozy enclosed terrace, the lobby. White walls, paintings, seating area for a large group, and on the back wall there is a huge map of Filoti and area where all the highlights are highlighted.
My room was the first one facing the street. I had my own white stairs and blue front door. My bedroom window looked into the orchard, and in the distance Mount Zeus towered above the island, like a supreme god painted upon the blue canvas of his realm.
I think the owners took a Greek scenery from the outside, and turned it on the inside to remind guests of where they are – marble floors, blue doors, blue window trims, and white washed walls. There was no way I could forget I was in Greece and I loved them for it.
The room was perfect with a small couch that pulled out into a bed, a wardrobe with hangers, a tiny coffee and food prep area, and a little stove and fridge if needed. The bed was spacious, the mattress firm and the sleeps, under a couple of blankets, divine. The shower is quintessential Greek-style, no doors but the water flows as hot as you need it, for as long you need it.
When it came to accessing wifi, I never had a problem, it was fast and always available so, for me on a working holiday, it was stress-free.
Giannakis Hotel is pristine clean, the staff are warmly lovely at all times, and Katerina was always there when I needed information. This is the epitome of what the word filoxenia truly means.
Filoxenia is a virtue in Greece, handed down for centuries, loosely translated it means to love a stranger. To show guests the true meaning of the word, Greeks will sacrifice their own comforts, their last meal even, to welcome the travelling stranger. There is a reason why most Greeks you meet operate hospitality establishments, this is not a calling for Greeks. For Greeks filoxenia is to welcome, feed and keep safe the strangers that happen upon them.
There is a curious nature to the Greek culture too, a friendly curiosity to get to know you in order to ensure you have only fond memories of their place and people. After that initial visit, they will welcome you back again and again like a long-lost friend.
At table, they will choose the choicest morsel and entice you to taste it to prove to you that Filoti food is the best there is…they’re usually right.
On the first day you will be greeted with a Kalimera, and after that it is yasas! The difference being “hello how are you” and “hey old friend!”
The baker will throw in an extra treat most days. Taverna owners will greet you like you were gone months instead of a day, you will be offered the best and freshest ingredients plucked from the soil and sea. Ask for a lemon and you will be given 3, ask for a drop of olive oil and you may be leaving town with a canister of it.
I love Filoti, and if I had not found Giannakis suites, I wonder? would I have been able to immerse myself so completely into this charming village life?
I am returning in the fall for the olive season and I have already booked my room with Giannakis Filoxenia, my Filoti home away from Vancouver, so I do believe that begs the question.
Type: Hotel and BandB
Address: 843 02 Filóti, Kikladhes, Greece
Phone: +30 694 503 0110
Giannakis Filoxenia Filoti