Accommodations

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TRAVEL TIPS

Accommodations

When it comes to making reservations, it is wise to book several months in advance for the high season, from June through August, especially when booking top-end hotels in high-profile destinations like Santorini and Hydra. Accommodations may be hard to find in smaller summer resort towns in winter (when many hotels close for repairs) and at the beginning of spring.

Many hotels have reduced their prices to remain competitive in the face of the country’s ongoing economic crisis. Sometimes during off-season you can bargain down the official prices even further (rumor has it to as much as a quarter of the officially quoted price). So be sure to ask if there are any additional discounts for the off-season. The response you get will depend largely on the length of your stay, the hotel's policy, and the season in question. You can also reduce the price by eliminating breakfast or by going through a local travel agency, particularly for larger hotels on major islands and in Athens and Thessaloniki. (In Greece, travel agencies still make a lot of the hotel bookings and often offer preferred rates.) A 6.5% government Value-Added Tax and 0.5% municipality tax are added to all hotel bills, though usually the rate quoted includes the tax; be sure to ask. When booking, it's worth asking whether or not the hotel provides transportation from the airport/port as part of their services.

Plumbing in rooms and most low-end hotels (and restaurants, shops, and other public places) is delicate enough to require that toilet paper and other detritus be put in the wastebasket and not flushed.

The lodgings we list are the cream of the crop in each price category. When pricing accommodations, always ask what's included and what's not. Common items that may add to your basic room rate are breakfast, parking, use of certain facilities such as tennis courts, the spa, or gym, Wi-Fi, etc.

Note that some resort hotels also offer half- and full-board arrangements for part of the year. And all-inclusive resorts are mushrooming. Inquire about your options when booking.

Hotels

The EOT (GNTO) authorizes the construction and classification of hotels throughout Greece. It classifies them into five categories, A–E, which govern the rates that can be charged. Ratings are based on considerations such as room size, hotel services, and amenities including the furnishing of the room. Within each category, quality varies greatly, but prices don't. Still, you may come across an A-category hotel that charges less than a B-class. The classifications can be misleading—a C-rated hotel in one town might qualify as a B in another.

For category A expect the equivalent of a 5-star hotel in the United States, although the room will probably be somewhat smaller. A room in a C-class hotel can be perfectly acceptable; with a D the bathroom may or may not be shared. Ask to see the room before checking in. You can sometimes find a bargain if a hotel has just renovated but has not yet been reclassified. A great hotel may never move up to a better category just because its lobby isn't the required size.

Official prices are posted in each room, usually on the back of the door or inside the wardrobe. The room charge varies over the course of the year, peaking in the high season when breakfast or half-board (at hotel complexes) may also be obligatory.

A hotel may ask for a deposit of the first night's stay or up to 25% of the room rate. If you cancel your reservations at least 21 days in advance, you are entitled to a full refund of your deposit.

Unless otherwise noted, hotels have air-conditioning (climatismo), room TVs, and private bathrooms (banio). Bathrooms mostly contain showers, though some older or more luxurious hotels may have tubs. Beds are usually twins (diklina). If you want a double bed, ask for a diplo krevati. In upper-end hotels, the mattresses are full- or queen-size.

Use the following as a guide to making accommodations inquiries: to reserve a double room, thelo na kleiso ena diklino; with a bath, me banio; without a bath, horis banio; or a room with a view, domatio me thea. If you need a quiet room (isiho domatio), get one with double-glazed windows (dipla parathyra) and air-conditioning, away from the elevator and public areas, as high up (psila) as possible, and off the street.

Rental Rooms

For low-cost accommodations, consider Greece's ubiquitous "rooms to rent": bed-and-breakfasts without the breakfast. You can count on a clean room, often with such amenities as a terrace, air-conditioning, and a private bath, at a very reasonable price, in the range of €40–€50 for two. Look for signs in any Greek town or village; or, let the proprietors find you—they have a knack for spotting strangers who look like they might need a bed for the night. When renting a room, take a good look first and be sure to check the bathroom before you commit. If there are extra beds in the room, clarify in advance that the amount agreed on is for the entire room—owners occasionally try to put another person in the same room.

When approached by one of the touts who meet the island ferries, make sure he or she tells you the location of the rooms being pushed, and look before you commit. Avoid places on main roads or near all-night discos. Around August 15 (an important religious holiday of the Greek Orthodox Church, commemorating the Assumption of the Virgin Mary), when it seems all Greeks go on vacation, even the most-basic rooms are almost impossible to locate, although you can query the tourist police or the municipal tourist office. On some islands, the local rental room owners' association sets up an information booth.

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