Hydra – Saronic Gulf Islands, Greece

An Isle with Style

Your first sight of Hydra will be the lovely quasi-circular harbor town and many fine sea captains’ houses fanning out and up into the rocky hills. All motor traffic (including kamikaze mopeds, thank goodness) is banned from this mountainous and barren island, where the people have always looked to the sea for their livelihood.

Donkeys and horse-drawn carriages are the primary means of transportation. Once famous as a rendezvous spot for artists, writers, and the glitterati, Hydra still retains an image as one of the country’s most stylish destinations. Tavernas are rustic but frequented by a handsome crowd.

The quietly chic Bratsera Hotel was created within the shell of an 1860 sponge fac­tory; the doors, made from old packing crates, still bear the name of Athens’s port, Piraeus. It is an unpretentiously elegant hotel, whose min­imal nautical decor and spacious layout complement the local Hydriot character and history: exposed rich stonework, wooden beams, and relics of its former incarnation.

On an island whose name mistakenly implies an abundance of water, the Bratsera’s pool is a joy, and the only one on the island.

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