When most of us think of Greece we think of Athens with its ruins and rich history from eons past, or the sexy islands of Santorini, Mykonos or Crete. Yet Greece is a large country with endless experiences away from the beaches and fast paced city life. In central Greece there are majestic mountain ranges, ancient villages, and kind people who are proud of their rich culture and customs. Kipi is one of these mountain hamlets in Greece’s North West central region of Zagori. Most have probably never heard of it and that’s just fine for seasoned travelers who are looking to vacation off the beaten path and away for the hordes and masses. Kipi is also where the well-heeled traveler will seek his respite in the most special boutique hotel, the Kipi Suites.
North West Greece is a natural paradise of alpine mountains, cavernous valleys, crystal clear lakes, rivers, forests and even an odd brown bear or two. Zagori is the name of the area and is home to 47 quaint and charming cobblestoned hamlets, each with its own special character and charm. Kipi is one of the main villages in the area and surrounded by rivers and fresh water springs as well as some of the most well-preserved bridges in the area. A walk through town is lovely as one passes a few other inns, restaurants and an open air bistro which is the perfect place to bend the elbow with a friendly local.
From the outside, the Kipi Suites blends in with the architecture of its neighbors with a common ancient Epirus style of rustic stone homes and buildings. This traditional construction technique is still prevalent in the region and any time of the day you can hear the chipping of stones as the stone masons work, as they have for hundreds of years, to build sturdy walls by hand, and stone and stone. The Kipi Suites are renovated Zagori village homes built in the 1850s. What’s been created is a timeless boutique hotel which seamlessly blends the ancient with the contemporary along with every modern convenience for today’s travelers.
And the Greek tradition does not end with the hotel’s exterior. The hospitality and friendliness that Greeks are known for is sure to be part of your experience. In fact, Kipi Suites is more like an Inn. The proprietor, Stravos, is the person you’ll see during your stay who will also make sure you have everything you need. Guest’s will also meet Peniota who is an engaging and lovely matron who loves to cook and ensures you never get hungry during your stay.
The suites are all unique with a lovely private terrace or balcony overlooking the sweeping views of the Mitsikeli mountains and valley. Entering through a separate entrance, guests will be impressed with the gorgeous rustic décor of wood rafters in the ceilings, exposed rock and mortar walls, slate and oak wood floors and a toasty fireplace for the chilly nights. The furnishing are custom-made and quite comfortable with a minimalist and contemporary design. Each of the eight rooms are well lit with natural light and in the evening there is some cool mood lighting in the floorboards.
The Junior Suite is a great option. It is built on two levels, each with a fireplace and wonderful window with views of the natural surroundings. A winding wrought iron and wood star case leads to the second floor which houses two beds, more mood lighting and a second fireplace. The bathrooms are made for luxuriating with a whirlpool bath made for two.
There are only eight units so that’s just perfect if you’re not the type that enjoys queuing up for an omelet during breakfast at a mega sized resort. For breakfast, which in included in the rate, there’s a good buffet of fresh fruits, breads, cold cuts and Panioti’s special homemade Spanakopita which is a Greek spinach pie with olives. It is a common comfort food in Greece and each area of the country has their own special take on it. Pies are a religion in Greece, tasty light flat and round, they vary from flaky crust to more of a pita type with everything included from savory and sweet to spicy and robust. Paniota’s pies are and excellent part of the stay at Kipi Suites and just one of the many authentic Greek experiences you can expect.
The restaurant is quaint and cozy with a fire place and a good number of tables with additional seating outside to take in some fresh air and the natural beauty of the area. Upstairs is a contemporary style lounge and living room type of area perfect for cocktails and conversation before dinner.
The restaurant serves local traditional meals for both lunch and dinner as well. Guests may also choose to visit one of the eateries in town or visit one of the other nearby villages for dining out as well.
The lovers of the great outdoors or just peace and quiet will love a stay at Kipi Suites. However, there is so much to do beyond just marveling at the beautiful country side of North West Greece.
The verdant mountain ranges of this area make for an outdoor playground for active travelers. There is whitewater rafting on the Baya River as well as refreshing swims in the nearby rivers and lakes. Others will enjoy mountain biking on the trails or perhaps a horseback ride along the river. A day must be spent exploring the incredible nature of the National Forest of Vikos-Aoos and Valia Calda as well as the unforgettable Perama Cave filled 14, 000 sqm of stalactites and stalagmites . For a bit more of a thrill, the areas gorges are perfect for mountain climbing or paragliding over these beautiful landscapes.
The gorgeous outdoors and fresh air is also perfect for a hike in the woods. This is area is a mecca for those who love trekking and there are trails for all levels. Many of the trails lead from the hotel, from simple strolls through town or for some serious endurance hiking to the area’s mountain peaks.
It’s wonderful to explore the nearby villages which each has its own endearing qualities from their winding cobblestone streets and narrow alleys that lead to the town squares and Gothic churches with towering spirals created over 400 years ago. All have wonderful outdoor bistros to enjoy a beer or Raki with friendly locals.
The most memorable thing to do for most to this area is to spend a day visiting the bridges. Once you visit Zagori, you’ll never again look at the Brooklyn Bride, Golden Gate Bridge or the Tower Bridges in London the same way. You may even forget about the Bridges of Madison Country.
This region is known for their iconic arch stone bridges which were commissioned by the area’s well-to-do and nobility in the 18th century. These wonderful stone bridges have stood through the test of time and served to bring together the towns and villages of the region across its many rivers and gorges. Today they still connect locals and tourists as walking bridges of different sizes. They are exciting to explore and the perfect backdrop for some exceptional photos.
For those looking to stray off the beaten path for an unforgettable vacation there’s nothing like a visit to Zagori and a stay at the Kipi Suites. Incredible nature, warm Greek hospitality and exquisite accommodations make this one destination that guarantees a more than worthwhile Greek holiday.