From the moment our plane landed in Athens, Porter and I have felt like we’ve really hit our stride. We’ve been at this full-time traveling thing for about a month now, changing locations every two or three days by plane, train, car, or ferry, and I think it’s finally been long enough that our bodies and minds feel acclimated to this new normal, and it was a small thing that tipped us off.
The night we got to Greece, we reached our hotel, Coco-Mat Athens, at about 8 pm, checked in, dropped our luggage, unpacked (I ALWAYS unpack, even if we’re only somewhere for two nights it really makes all the difference), and then headed out to find a quick, simple dinner. This required exploring our section of Athens, Kolonaki, just a little bit because there are amazing restaurants and bars every few feet, and all of them have menus with every Greek dish you’re hoping to get (souvlaki, tzatziki, loukomades for dessert, you name it).
Except, instead of just sitting down at the first stop, Porter and I ended up walking around for an hour and a half before dinner, just because we wanted to check the city out. I should preface that by saying that we’d had a reallyyyy long day, bad airport day, and generally arrived in Athens at energy levels dipping toward 10%. But lately, this week in Greece especially, time and again, just when it feels like we’re going to hit a wall, we see something new and exciting, a different part of the city or some cafe or bar, or an interesting monument we’d overlooked, and some kind of travel adrenalin kicks in, and it’s like we’ve been sitting on the couch for a week. It kind of feels like when you’re at camp, and your body is always a little bit tired, but because it’s always that way, you aren’t tired. Porter and I had dinner until after midnight that night, then finally headed back to Coco-Mat Athens and slept that kind of deep, not moving sleep. We’ve slept like that every night here, actually, because our days have all been so incredibly full and fulfilling.
I’ve fallen for Athens. Hard. Particularly, I think, because everyone who I know who’s been here watered down how great it was. They’d mention that it’s dirty or compare it to other European cities and just generally seem unenthusiastic about the place and treat it as more of a stopover point between home and the Greek islands than a destination. I couldn’t feel more differently – and I’m going to elaborate in our Athens guide when I share our photos from the Acropolis tomorrow, but this city is one I hope we always come back to. There are so many young people, and everyone is happy and interested and interesting, the food and bar scene is amazing and the city is easy to navigate and, if dirty, forgivably so (like NYC). But, as with any city, especially a big one like Athens, where you stay has a whole lot to do with your experience. When we come back, I can say with certainty we’ll be checking into Coco-Mat Athens. Actually, any city with a Coco-Mat hotel, you can count us in.
Here are seven reasons why:
1. Build Your Own Muesli Bar & Organic, Clean Food:
In Athens overall, I’ve found the health food scene to be such a breath of fresh air. Coco-Mat reflects that with their raw-focused, organic breakfast bar, with jars on jars of nuts, berries, seeds, even spirulina and acai, to top your local Greek yogurt with and maybe make up for a total lack of nutrients take-in while consuming spaghetti every night and nutella toast every morning while in Italy (guilty). Coco-Mat even had a gluten-free corner, and lots of fresh juices to choose from. Every morning, we sat out in there little open air breakfast atrium and the start to every day just felt so good.
2. Their Take on Light-Exposed Interior Design:
Here’s a little backstory on Coco-Mat if you aren’t familiar with the brand: Coco-Mat is an organic, sustainable, eco-mattress brand based in Europe that’s expanded into boutique hotels that are all decorated with company interior design pieces. Coco-Mat is unique in that its whole production is backed by a belief that as many products in your home as possible (decorative, constructive, bedding, what have you) should have been exposed to sunlight for as long as possible. They believe that inorganic replacements (like linoleum instead of real wood, for example) reduces the positive energy in your home because sunlight isn’t contained within those inorganic products. When your home is filled with products that were sun-exposed (down to the sustainably collected duck feathers in your pillows) the energy just lifts. It might be hard to believe that from text on a screen, but being here, you just feel it. The energy in these hotels is so bright and airy, calming and zen, and yes, positive. I’ve really taken this sun-exposure theory to heart (can you tell?).
3. Eco-Conscious Reminders:
The best thing about living in eco-hotels is that you’re surrounded by thoughtfulness, for the guests and for the planet. Coco-Mat Athens has notes and reminders everywhere about everything from water waste to reusing towels, they even had a planter at their Nafsika location that had a box beneath it that said “Worm Hotel” where their compost is (don’t worry, you couldn’t see the worms, just clean birchwood color box with a minimalist label). I loved that.
4. Organic Lavender Pillows:
Shout out to Porter’s and my mum who both used lavender while we were growing up as the end-all-be-all for when you can’t fall asleep. Arriving to individual little organic lavender smelling pillows on our bed instantly made us both feel at home and relaxed. I really wonder why I’ve never seen that touch at other hotels…it’s such a great way to make guests feel calm instantly.
I mentioned this briefly in another blogpost and will go more in depth in our Athens roundup, but Coco-Mat Athens could not be in a better location. Full stop. It is smack-dab in the middle of the youngest “hippest” bar, food, cafe, juice bar, shopping area you can imagine. We could’ve never left our little section of city and still had a blast. It’s also only a fifteen minute walk to Plaka (the old town section of Athens) and the Acropolis. Win-win-win.
6. Pillow Menu:
Yes, you read that right. At every Coco-Mat hotel, there’s a pillow menu beside your bed describing the make and feel (and sometimes even scent!) of about twelve different pillows. You pick your kind, call reception, and the pillows are brought to your room within minutes. This is awesome because most people out there really do have a pillow preference. Porter and I both prefer really soft, all-down, pillows, so we chose the “Morfeas” pillows and have been jokingly saying that our favorite thing about Athens is Morfeas. They’re like sleeping on a cumulus cloud.
7. Relaxed Environment:
The design in both Athens Coco-Mats we stayed at, and at the one in Serifos we’ve just reached, is all so incredibly our style (minimalist without being cold, natural materials, while still feeling current), and the last day we were in Athens, Porter and I worked in our sitting room (photos above) for five hours basically without moving and then decided, (someday) if we ever have an office, that will be the layout: two daybeds, coffee table between them, and a desk off to the right. It just works.
Hope you enjoy the pics!
Anna Lisa & Porter