The logistical question that concerns everyone planning a trip is "where will we stay?" We see plenty of hotels offers in the internet, and have trouble choosing between them. They all offer nice pictures and customer recommendations, but sometimes we find later that price may not include taxes and fees, or the rooms are not clean, or too crowded, or the hotel is located in an unpleasant neighborhood, or far from the entertainment venues. We all read the guest reviews on the booking sites, knowing that the information is not always entirely reliable, because companies like "Booking" are censoring negative reviews. Therefore, the issue of overnight stays is dilemma.
Before I flew there, I was invited by the Epirus Hotel Association that provided me with accommodation to the following hotels at a reasonable price. Here are the names of the hotels where I was staying, and can recommend them from personal experience. As a service to my readers, I share with you the list of hotels I have stayed in:
Hotel Olympic, Ioannina
In the city of Ioannina we stayed at the Olympic Hotel in the city center. The room was large and spacious. Very clean. From the window and balcony we enjoyed lovely views of the lake and the mountains.
This hotel is within a 10-minute walk of the beautiful lakeside promenade, a short walk from the Old City and the Ioannina Synagogue. Free internet. Breakfast was plentiful, with many salads and cheeses, in a larger selection than usual. The hotel has an adjacent parking lot, which is an advantage for those who come to Ioannina in a rented car.
The hotel manager, Stathis Sioutis, is giving personal attention to every guest. When he saw I'm wearing a Kipa, he was concerned what to serve me at breakfast that would meet the conditions of Kashrut. Very pleasant gesture.
The only minus was the small elevator. It has room for only two people and one suitcase. Those who come with more people and more luggage, should wait in the lobby for the next elevator.
In the Zagori region I was staying at a very elegant boutique hotel at the entrance to the village of Aristi. A new building with the traditional architecture, built of local stone and a wooden floor that gives a warmth feeling . The hotel has only 12 rooms. All rooms are very large, and the floor area in each room is like 4 rooms in ordinary hotels. The price is only like a 3 stars hotel, but I give it 6 stars for service. From the window and balcony there's stunning view of the mountains. I enjoyed sitting on the balcony with my laptop and writing the travel diary and the articles that published later on this website.
One of the advantages is the courteous service of the hotel manager, Mr. Tzanos Panagretis, who was available courteously to every request. He kept offering more coffee or tea or anything else. It was a pleasure, and I wished I could stay there for a few more days. Highly recommended.
The only minus: They do not have a CNN or any other English TV channel.
Lotos mountain resort, Konitsa
In the large village of Konitsa. We were staying at the Lotus resort hotel on the edge of the village. The resort has wooden cabins with a kitchen and all the comforts. The cabins are large and spacious, very clean, and isolated from each other, with privacy. From here you can see the mountains of Epirus on one side, and the views of the wide Aoos River.
This resort is especially suitable for families. The bungalow also has a sofa which can be open up to another double bed. I was informed that they also had large cabins for 5 or 7 people. There is also a swimming pool and a playground for families with children. There is also a stable for horseback riding. You can ride inside the stable yard, or go riding on a guided tour in the forest and along the banks of the nearby Aoos river.
Next to the complex there is an animal farm, with different types of birds and animals. The farm is designed for education for pupils from schools throughout the area. Hotel guests can enter free at all times. For children this can be an experience like a zoo. For parents, this is an opportunity for a few hours of quiet and privacy in the room, while the guide in the farm supervises the children who enjoy the animals.
But there was a small problem – the hotel is located outside the village. A very long walk to the center of the village and restaurants and taverns. Travelers without a car cannot leave the hotel.
Gefiri Plakas, Tzoumerka
Gefiri Plakas hotel is located near the Arachotus River in the area of Tsumerka. Set within a national park, it offers comfortable rooms with a balcony. All the balconies overlook the beautiful mountains, and the river itself is hidden by the many large trees surrounding the hotel. There is also a spa center, with a Hammam and sauna, and a massage bath, and a custom-made massage. I was invited to the spa, but I was too tired. It is a nice and pleasant place to relax after a day of hiking in the mountains. It's close to several tourist sites, such as the Plaka Bridge and the Pramanta dripstones cave.
A small minus- At nights the reception desk is occupied by old couple that don't speak English.
Enoro guest house, Pramanta
The hotel was built two years ago by a mother and daughter from Ioannina, who bought the land in the middle of the forest, and invested their money and soul in building this boutique hotel with 4 huge rooms. In each room one of the walls is transparent and faces the forest. Of course you can cover the opening with a sealed curtain for privacy. Some rooms also have a luxurious bath, as well as a bathroom shower.
The greatest advantages are the personal attitude to each guest. The hotel owner enjoys a conversation with the guests, and is interested in the countries where they came from. She and her daughter offer tours in the Tsumerka Mountains, to suit the personal tastes and interests of each guest. They themselves also join some of the trips as guides, when requested.
Owners of the hotel are jewelers, and they also organize jewelry workshops on request. She is also an excellent cook, and does cooking workshops. The seasoning is based on the herbs they grow in the hotel garden. The house is surrounded by fruit trees, and the jams and liqueurs are produced by them only from fruits in their garden. According to them, many Israeli tourists also come there every summer thru Booking, and recommendations of other Israelis who were already staying with them.
Vogiarou Guesthouse, Kalarrytes
This is a hotel in the picturesque village of Kallarites in the mountain of Tsumerka. It was a family home built in 1873. A decade ago, one of the family members added two floors to his parents' home, and made it hotel rooms furnished in a traditional style of northern Greece. Everything is built of local stone and wood, the furniture's are heavy and very colorful. Each room has a fireplace for heating. The mountain air is clear as Tziporo (a local alcoholic drink similar to Vodka or Arak), and it's cool and pleasant in the summer. On the ground floor there is a café and a restaurant. I was invited for a full lunch, but because of the Kashrut I had to disappoint my hosts, and just drink coffee and Lukum.
I have not been staying at this hotel, but I'm going to come back for a week's vacation again, so I can recommend what I'll do for myself. When I returned to Israel, I checked the "Booking" website and discovered that the hotel has the highest rating given to very few hotels in Greece. I was not surprised.
So far the recommendations I have received, and I am happy to share them with my readers. There are plenty of hotels in Epirus, with a wide range of accommodation and price levels. Perhaps some hotels are better than these. But I can only calmly recommend the places I tried myself, and did not disappoint.