After viewing the terriffic website, I was looking forward to a short, two-night / three day break to Halki and the Hiona Art Hotel- which is advertised as a four star hotel and (quote) "our motto is offering its guests individualized services". We paid 100 euro/night for a double, breakfast included. I was so excited to stay at this hotel.
The hotel is in a perfect location, amazing building, beautifully renovated, modern tasteful decor, comfortable rooms. Common areas are also beautiful. We had room #6, on the ground level, last room on the left corner, which was convenient because you had direct access off your balcony to the outdoor area of the hotel, overlooking the sea. You could literally walk out of your 'balcony', walk a few steps and hop right into the sea! There are nice comfy wooden lounge chairs with soft mattresses - perfect for relaxing and enjoying the amazing view. There were only two big umbrellas however (providing shade for only 4 lounge chairs) so most of the lounge chairs are in the sun. Shady spots are limited. They definitely need to put up more umbrellas. Guests would wake up early and put their towels on the coveted 'shady' lounge chairs, thus claiming them for the day. So if you require shade, I suggest you do the same...
There are two swimming platforms down below, (one has an outdoor shower too) - both have a ladder that goes into the sea. However, one of the platforms had a few of the wooden slats missing (on the stairs and on the ladder) which is dangerous - an accident waiting to happen. Hotel staff said there was a storm a month ago and due to harsh waves etc there was a lot of damage. However, something as simple as replacing two wooden slats... ? I can't understand why this was left as is (for a month!) and not repaired right away. A safety hazard indeed.
Anyway, the breakfast was good and plentiful. Offered until 11am - a plus. Standard hotel breakfast, nothing spectacular, they offer everything you would expect, bread was fresh, I thought the coffee was fine. Although the orange juice was the usual 'hotel' orange juice... You could order other coffees from the bar (cappuccino, freddo, etc - but had to pay for it). I paid 3 euro for an iced nescafe frape.
I was unpleasantly surprised by the service. For a hotel that states on its website that its motto is service.... Let me first say that the young women at the bar/cafe (waitresses) were very pleasant, cheerful and friendly. Check-in was very non-chalant, we were not greeted by a pleasant, smiling person at reception. Basically we were just handed a room key - no "let us know if you need anything" or "your room is that way, last door on the left" etc - we were not even told what time breakfast is - I had to ask one of the waitresses later on. In addition, the website states "In their rooms, our guests will find a welcome drink, fresh fruit and flowers"- Unfortunately these were not present in the room.
Anyway, when we booked over the phone, we asked if we could do a late check-out (keep the room until 4-5pm as our ferry was at 6.30pm) and asked what the charge was for late check-out (we were willing to pay). We were told that there is no late check-out fee and would be able to keep the room until at least 3pm, as the cleaning lady leaves at 4pm, so she'd need time to make up the room, etc. (OK this is supposedly a 4 star hotel, dedicated to individualized service - you don't usher out guests so the cleaning lady can make up the room before her shift is over)...
Anyway, on the second day, after breakfast, we were kindly asked if we wouldn't mind changing rooms, as there was a mix-up, and room #6 was reserved for some foreign guests who were arriving that day, who come every year and request room #6, etc etc. OK I'm not unreasonable, I really did not mind changing rooms at all. The hotel staffer seemed very grateful and I figured that in a service-oriented four star hotel, we would somehow be compensated for the inconvenience. And an inconvenience it was. We waited until 12 noon to move, changed our plans for the day - (missing the 12:00 bus to the beach, which resulted in us having to walk 15-20 minutes to the beacch in the blazing heat). But still, I thought 'OK whatever, not a huge deal'...
We were moved to room #3, which was the same exact room, same furniture, same amazing view, etc. Just fine, no problem, right? Except that the room reeked of stale cigarette smoke, and the bathroom had a horrible smell (something wrong with the sewage system/pipes in that bathroom? - don't know). The smokey smell was somewhat improved after airing out the room, but at night, I could smell the smoke on the matress and pillows. The bathroom smell could not be covered up - I put a towel over the drain in the bathroom floor, it was somewhat better but still not good. Also the bathroom fan, after about 10 minutes in use, would start a loud screetching noise - extremely annoying.
This room (#3) is the closest to the reception desk, and the noise from that area could be heard and was bothersome (and I'm a heavy sleeper). The ringer on the reception's telephone was extremely loud and shrill. I could hear it ringing late (after 11:30pm) and it woke me up early the next morning. I suggest that the ringer be turned down, I don't understand why it has to be SO loud.
My husband was concerned about the late-checkout we had requested, since we changed rooms and so he asked the staffer about it (perhaps he was the owner - he seemed to be the one in charge) - and the staffer was quite nice and said "after the favor you did us, changing rooms like that, you can keep the room until 4-5pm, don't worry about it" Great, perfect, no problem, we thought.
Until the next day (our last day) when we were on the lounge chairs enjoying the sea, etc - the same staffer approached us at 2pm and kindly asked us if we could vacate the room by 2:45pm as the cleaning lady had to clean for the next guests!!! We couldn't believe it. We were at this 4-star, service-oriented hotel for only three days,(paying 200 euro for the privilage - not cheap) and two of the three days we were completely inconvenienced. The worst part was we were not compensated in any way for the inconvenience (not even offered a complimentary coffee) we were only further inconvenienced. Needless to say, we were extremely disappointed. It's a shame, as it's really a beautiful hotel.
So we had to get up, interrupt our lovely afternoon of swimming, and rush to take showers, change and pack up our stuff in 45 min. We go to the reception desk (same woman was there as check-in) and it was a cold, smileless exchange. I felt like I was at the supermarket check-out line. I handed over the money, I was handed a receipt and got a muttered 'thank you'. Again, this, from a four-star service-oriented hotel. So we left and on the way out, the other staffer (owner-guy?) happened to see us leaving and called out to us - and told us that we could keep our luggage there at the hotel and by 6pm he'd have it transferred to the port. So we did. I would not consider this gesture anything 'extra' in terms of service or 'compensation' - this is standard stuff in upmarket hotels. Anyway... overall it's a great hotel that lacks quality service. Would I stay there again? No. Why? Because they simply do not offer what they advertise. Because (as is) the best thing about the hotel is the location and outdoor areas, direct access to the sea - which are all open to the public. You do not need to be a hotel guest to swim from 'their' platforms as long as you want or sit at the hotel cafe for a coffee/snack.