Review: Staying At The Unique ELaiolithos In Naxos, Greece
As I was planning my visit to the Greek island of Naxos, I wanted to find someplace a bit unique, particularly for my birthday. I kept looking for something that was a totally different experience from the regular (beautiful) beachfront hotels and apartments that lined Naxos Town.
And that’s when I stumbled upon the unique ELaiolithos Naxos.
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ELaiolithos Luxury Retreat is a “green” luxury hotel run by local Helen Marakis, blending sustainability and hospitality. She lovingly chose every single element of the hotel’s design and décor, using local Naxian materials and artists—it’s basically a love letter to the island!
There are many things that make it unique, but one of those is that it’s the only hotel (that I could find) up in the mountain villages. For me, this served two purposes—a totally different experience than the beach hotels, and (more practically) a more centralized base for exploring the villages and southeast coast.
I stayed two nights here in late September 2022, and wanted to share a detailed review!
Planning a trip to Naxos? This post covers what to wear and pack!
My TL;dr review of ELaiolithos Naxos
I’ve got a much more detailed review of the hotel below, including lots of photos, but if you’re in a hurry here’s my “short and sweet” version. I absolutely think you should stay here if you’re looking for something special and central.
I also always recommend you check out lots of reviews on both Booking.com and TripAdvisor, they’re super helpful! I usually book through Booking for rewards and easy management, though occasionally directly on the hotel’s website if I’m worried about getting the exact room I wanted.
- The location is perfect, nestled in the mountains near a couple tiny villages. You will almost certainly need a car to get around. And with that, the views are AMAZING.
- The hotel is lovely and unique, with Helen’s thoughtful design fingerprint all over it. My room was spacious and clean with plenty of little touches.
- The breakfast at ELaiolithos was delicious, fresh, and unique, as were the cocktails. I feel like I didn’t get to experience the rest of their culinary offering, like dinner or a cooking class, so can’t speak to it. But don’t just show up for dinner…make sure you plan ahead and communicate so she’s expecting you.
- The hotel is adults only (16+), which was a selling point for me.
- For guests that value it, Helen is an amazing host and rich resource to help you really experience local life in Naxos. Whether it’s getting to experience harvesting olives, picking you up from a hike she recommended, or bringing you to dinner with her friends, she sees her guests as a part of her life.
For reference, the other place I stayed in Naxos was Hotel Grotta (see my review here) and it was also amazing—overlooking the ocean and Naxos town, with gorgeous views, wonderful hospitality, and a 5-minute walk into town.
Okay, let’s get into the nitty-gritty details!
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I had started the day in Naxos Chora, and spent several hours exploring all around the island. It had been a long day, including some unexpectedly-harrowing driving that (accidentally) led me to the beautiful Agios Mamas. So I was fairly worn out when I rounded the bend and first got a glimpse of ELaiolithos.
The hotel is nestled into the mountainside, right in a bend of the road. You’re surrounded on all sides by the valley, trees, hills, and goats 🙂
Side note, I do think you need a car for staying here and getting around. For renting a car internationally, I always search in a few different places and compare both the prices and specific offerings/benefits. My go-to’s are DiscoverCars, RentalCars.com, and AutoEurope.
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The hotel’s main areas & design
Helen designed every aspect of ELaiolithos with great care. Every element—from the stone and marble, to the linens, to the food they serve—is local (and mostly within 5 kilometers of the hotel).
The hotel’s main spaces are all outdoor, with a massive patio spanning the dining area, lounge chairs, and small seating areas. That’s because the view is the star here. She also has added a swimming pool and outdoor gym area since my visit (so I haven’t seen them).
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Helen welcomed me and got me a smoothie (and eventually some wine), and we chatted a bit while I soaked up the sun. She is one of the big draws to ELaiolothis as well—she’s a force of nature! She is so welcoming and enthusiastic that it’s sometimes hard for an introvert like me to say no.
I mentioned in the TL;dr section above, but she really wants guests to experience to the authentic Naxos, and treats them more like house guests than hotel customers. She took me into Chalki the first night there, where I met her mom and some other family.
That night she invited me to a friend’s baby’s baptism, which would have been an amazing cultural experience, and I’m still annoyed with myself that I didn’t go. I was so tired I couldn’t even make conversation, just “out of gas” and it didn’t start til 9:00pm and she got home at 6:30am!!
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My room: Ariadne & Dionysus Suite
Then it was time to get settled in the Ariadne & Dionysus suite. It’s very spacious, with a small kitchenette area (I don’t remember what all was there, but definitely a sink and counter, glasses, etc.). The bed was comfortable and there was seating as well.
The bathroom was very clean and kind of exposed…glass walls, but there are curtains you can pull for privacy from the main room.
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And the views out the window were…*chef’s kiss*
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The views & sunset from ELaiolithos
This is definitely a big part of why we’re here! ELaiolithos overlooks the Drymalia Valley, with views of Mount Zeus in the distance. You can even see the islands of Ios and Sikinos way out in the Aegean!
And that kind of sunset view calls for a cocktail. I tried a couple different ones from their menu, which Helen whipped up for me herself.
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I sat here the night headed into my birthday (and a holy day) and just watched the sky quietly turn peachy-pinks, then purple and dusky indigo, and found it so peaceful.
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The food (breakfast especially)
I’m by nature an early riser, and as much as I wish I could turn that setting off on vacation, that’s just not my reality. So I got up in time to catch a pretty sunrise both mornings. I luckily convinced the person who’d arrived to make breakfast to give me a cup of coffee 🙂
I sipped my coffee on the patio…just chilly quiet with the occasional goat bell clanking. (Note, sunrise technically happens opposite the hotel behind the mountain, so you don’t get the same glorious colors as sunset.)
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On both mornings once I sat down to breakfast, they brought out delicious fresh fruit juice, toast with homemade marmalades, and a hard boiled egg, and of course more coffee.
They asked if I wanted local soft cheese and tomatoes with olive oil (DUH, yes), and the first morning they brought me yogurt with soft citrus marmalade for the main dish.
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I’d thought I would get to order breakfast as well that first morning, but maybe should have spoken up. I did ask Helen that evening, and the next morning was my birthday and I got a crepe and omelet, both of which were delicious! Helen also surprised me with a beautiful locally-made necklace and ring, which was incredibly thoughtful.
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Activities at ELaiolithos Naxos
Helen offers a number of activities for those who are interested, including cooking classes, marmalade (jam) making classes, massages, handloom weaving (a local specialty in her family), and much more.
She can also help arrange special tours and experiences, and depending on time and her schedule will even take visitors around (she took me into Chalki in the evening to hang out for a bit and pick up a couple who had been hiking).
Her recommendation is what took me to Yiannis’s amazing Naxos boat tour, which was was so much more intimate and local-feeling than the ones that leave from Naxos Chora. I intended to do a cooking class as well but ran out of time. Basically, if you let her know what you’re interested in, she can help make your stay extra special.
Hopefully this has given a glimpse of what to expect from the unique ELaiolithos Luxury Resort in Naxos (check out more reviews here)…if you’re looking for a beautiful and unique stay that’s off-the-beaten-path, you definitely need to come and stay with Helen!
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