Filia is a small, very friendly, 2 (or 3) star self catering hotel nestling on a hillside among pine groves, olive tries and firework-like bursts of oleander and bougainvillea bushes cascading down to Troulos Bay and the hazy distant island of Evia beyond.
It is a simple place; the cornucopia of delights offered by our hosts Christos, Anne-Marie and the rest of the extended family Sanidas are a product of their simple desire to give us the best of holidays. There are no gimmicks - just gorgeous freshly prepared home cooked food, a constant willingness to help and engage with you on your terms, and a desire for everyone to get the best deal possible on the beautiful, scenic island of Skiathos.
It is centred around a pool and bar area that acts as a flower encircled oasis of tranquillity. It's a place most guests will spend a great amount of time relaxing in a simplistic version of luxury. Sunbeds are always available, the drinks are always cold, the pool is cool and inviting, the Jacuzzi sounds like a softly babbling mountain stream and the hillside setting means you feel you are in a little private world, shared with a group of equally relaxed people, where you can switch your mind off and just chill. Bliss!
Christos and Anne-Marie also gently offer the opportunity to be part of some wonderfully relaxed and entertaining social situations - the sunset nights, the bbqs, trips to local restaurants, boat trips, dive trips, quad biking, jeep safaris and more - some as standard, some simply based on what you, as their guests, casually tell them you fancy doing and, click of fingers, are arranged!
If you choose Filia for your holidays - be prepared to make friends. We are getting married in several weeks time and our guest list is full of fellow Filianatics from our 5 stays at our little piece of paradise in the sun. It is a very sociable place for those who feel comfortable with mingling - and actually its also a place, so relaxed, tranquil and welcoming, that people who have never mingled before find themselves happily chatting away, sharing a drink or a laugh across the ample sunbeds without realising the Filia effect has magically massaged away their usual shyness.
I'm not going to go into reams of detail as I've covered it all in previous reviews (see them listed below) and other more recent reviewers (the 5 star ones) tell it so well. This actually a totally revised review from one I posted earlier in the year. After much thought, and prompted by a few recent developments and comments, I decided that the original review was not really what it needed to be to help you decide whether Filia is a place you'd like to stay - and that's not the point of review!
One of the reasons I felt compelled to repost started several weeks back. A very critical and, in my humble view, unfair offering splattered on to the page amid the mass of positive postings. I heard many gasps of horror from the Filianatic community at large at some of the things this review claimed, and thankfully it quickly vanished again. However you know when you pluck one unsightly hair and three more spring into its place as if in protest? Well lo and behold several more equally damning, but seemingly less controversially written, reviews appeared before our eyes like a little rocky outcrop of grumbles in a vast ocean of praise. Not suggesting in any way these things were actually linked - however it was an unfortunate coincidence and, as other guests have done, I felt compelled to pass comment.
The major bone of contention with the grumbumpkinous reviews appears to be the rooms. Well, for a start I am very used to Greek accommodation (as well as Filia, I have stayed in hotels and apartments in (deep breath) Corinth, Athens, Kriopigi, Aghios Nikalaos, Rethymnon, Chania, Platanias, Plakias, Malia, Perissa, Thassos Town, Skiathos Town - and a further four in Cyprus which although not actually in Greece, are Greek in character).
Greek accommodation is very rarely to the same taste and standard as we may expect elsewhere - I always pitch my expectation based on my many previous experiences, the majority of which I would class as 'Fawlty Toweros but with more rat and less attention to detail'. Filia rooms are simple, but (to paraphrase every 5 star review on this page yet again) very clean, well equipped, perfectly spacious enough, with comfortable beds and regularly changed linen, nice balconies and gorgeous views. My very first impression was - well this is nicer than I expected, in fact I like it (for the 30 or so conscious minutes a day I intend to spend in it - it's a holiday after all and the holiday part is largely not spent alone inside if I can help it!). The only Greek hotel that had much nicer rooms was in Chania, Crete that was dripping with tourism awards and that I paid a considerable amount more to stay in.
And talking of those less than positive reviews, I did have a peek at some of the photos supplied as examples. In fact I'd just read them when I wondered into my own bathroom and, SHOCK HORROR, noticed a small patch of mildew trying to establish itself in the corner of my shower room. Obviously I immediately painted a red cross and posted a large notice on my front door warning all the neighbours not to set foot inside my beplagued dwelling and then sat for a fortnight staring desperately at it in the hope it would go away so I could take off the hazard suit. Oh no, actually that's not what happened - in truth I zapped it with a bit of spray and wiped it off with a cloth, just like I'm sure Christos would have done if it had been brought to his attention in one of his rooms....
The Filia rooms are not totally redecorated and re-equipped every year with the latest fittings and fixtures - the furniture is of traditional pine, not this year's John Lewis chic, and sometimes things go wrong, get a bit rusty perhaps and need replacing. It happened when we stayed this year with our bathroom light unit. It broke, I told Christos, he replaced it. Simples! Some of the kitchen equipment is a little eclectic - but there's a good range. This doesn't bother me - the rooms are a comfortable place to stay, not the absolute be all and end all of my experience. And I just have to say - hangers! In the wardrobe! Plenty of them! what more can you ask. By the way - to my knowledge no 2 star Greek self catering accommodation since the dawn of time has ever provided washing up liquid, tea towels or sponges. Maybe they should? They don't though - but you can pick them up for a quid or two at one of the local supermarkets easily enough. You may want to bring your own from home, as we do, if you stay at Filia or one of the 10,000 other similar establishments. Most only provide small towels as well - however Christos made the decision to buck this trend last year and innovate - so we all now get full sized towels. High Five-os Chris!
Unlike some people I do fully understand how the dire economic situation in Greece impacts on businesses - prices are higher across the board as all imports are more expensive, banks can't loan money so it's stifling and desperate for the small business economy, but places like Filia battle on and give great service nonetheless. And while we're on economics - just in case anyone's thinking 'but I spend £xxx on a holiday - the hotel gets loads from us' Unfortunately most of the money you pay to Mr Cook or Mr Cosmos stays with Mr Cook or Mr Cosmos, on average hotel's receive probably less than 20% of the price you pay - and receive it well in arrears after you've had to pay it in advance. It's not an equitable system, especially as the tour companies have iron grip contracts over small places like Filia that stifle flexibility and make great demands on them. The world is changing though and the big companies are going to have to reform or die. Filia however would be just as good and just as strong if Chris and co decided to take the plunge and go independent - but this would mean it may not be as exposed to new guests from the UK who still like the convenience of booking a package.
Given all this it is understandable that the Sanidasians don't have endless funds to revamp every aspect of the hotel every year - but they do wonders with what they have. New landscaped sunbathing areas, new seating, a host of new fixtures in the rooms, free wifi throughout - regular visitors will see their industry at works as they slowly develop Filia even if new visitors may take these things for granted. They also keep the bar and food prices down too - you'll pay more for your Mythos in most places, and the food is fantastic value, wonderful in that way that your Granny's was - classic and well tested recipes, simply presented using totally fresh ingredients, many of which grown or bred on site, often cooked by the unsung heroine of the Filia kitchen, Filia's sister Voula - as well as by the hostess herself. Delicious in that authentic unfussy way - there are no slate plates or periwinkle and tarragon foams en croute - just good, honest, mouth-watering, succulent, traditional Greek food.
This has been a slightly different type of review for me - part praise, part rant. Hope it's helped you as the reader make your mind up as to whether Filia is the sort of place you'd like. If you are someone who wants to spend a significant amount of time in a luxury apartment and avoid contact with other people - it's maybe not your place. Everyone else, let's all sing 'Filia' (written by our friend and fellow Filiantic Dan Scholes for his band King & Scholes (available to hear on Soundcloud.com - have a listen)
And just to be self indulgent (well, it's about holidays isn't it?) I'm going to sign off in the same way I did last year...
The word Filia has three uses or meanings in Greek.
The first, evidently, is as a girl's name.
The second, if you put the stress on the last 'a', means 'kisses' as in the popular Greek phrase 'Polla filiά' or 'many kisses' – and somehow this fits as Filia Studios gently seduces so many of its guests.
And lastly, if you put the stress on the second 'i', Filia simply means - friendship.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Studios Filia Hotel a family run business with a personal touch offering holiday accommodation with attention to detail of customer needs around the clock. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Filia Studios & Apartments Hotel Troulos
- Filia Studios And Apartments
- Filia Studios & Apartments Skiathos/Troulos