Where to stay
Charmingly old-school, the Bristol, in the trendy Ladadika district, is carved out of the grand 19th-century Ottoman Post Office. Fixtures and fittings are a tad dated, but staff are friendly and rooms are large (some have balconies), with high ceilings and spacious bathrooms. Breakfast is cooked to order (don’t miss the marvellous flaky cheese pie) and retro bikes can be borrowed for a spin along the seafront, less than a minute away. The restaurant at the hotel, El Correo Cocina Argentina, is considered Thessaloniki’s “most authentic Argentine restaurant”, if you’re tiring of Greek salads.
Details B&B doubles cost from €89 (£79; bristol.gr); Oplopiou
Colors Urban Hotel
Colors’ quirky, playful aesthetic greets you at reception: complete the Rubik’s Cube on the counter faster than it takes to check in and breakfast is free (apparently two guests have managed it, which seems hard to believe). Its 26 cleverly designed rooms are light and airy; some come with double-decker four-posters that are great for
families. The laid-back Garden Bar morphs from breakfast room to hip cocktail hangout, and there’s a small spa too. The location on Tsimiski Street is perfect for shopping and sightseeing and if it’s full there’s another Colors property just two minutes away in Ladadika.
Details B&B doubles, with a cocktail thrown in, cost from €60 (colors.gr); Tsimiski Street
Thessaloniki is short of green spaces, but City Hotel, in a prime position next to Aristotelous Square, makes amends with leafy murals and decor that has an urban-garden theme in its reception and brasserie. Pick a city-view room with a balcony — there’s great soundproofing so you won’t have trouble sleeping. A generous buffet breakfast will set you up for the day and guests have free use of the well-equipped gym. Massages are also available in the treatment rooms; a hot-stone or deep-tissue massage costs from €50 for 50 minutes. The only downside to staying here is that the bathrooms are tiny, but if you’re after a crashpad for a busy weekend’s sightseeing it will do just fine. The concierge can arrange bike hire.
Details B&B city-view doubles cost from €95 (cityhotel.gr); Komninon Street
Blue Bottle Hotel
Tucked away off busy Egnatia Street, Blue Bottle is in a great location and offers guests the sort of kit that would put a five-star rival to shame, including the use of smartphones (with free wifi throughout the city), smart TVs (keyboards provided) and Coco-mat natural mattresses, as well as thoughtful touches like lavender pillow spray. Light and bright rooms have zingy splashes of colour and ultra-modern bathrooms, and staff are notably friendly and helpful.
Details B&B doubles cost from €75 (bluebottlehotel.gr), join the loyalty club for 10 per cent discount; Episkopou Amvrosiou
This laid-back B&B in a listed neoclassical building oozes boho chic.
Its 13 spotless, pastel-coloured rooms have high ceilings and balconies, and
are stuffed with funky vintage finds. Breakfast is particularly good, full of local specialities, including a delicious rose jam, and it’s a short stroll to the main sights. The colourful café serves great coffee and cocktails.
Details B&B doubles cost from €62 (thecaravan.gr); Rempelou Street
Where to eat
Estrella introduced the concept of brunch to Thessaloniki five years ago. Enjoy charcoal waffles with salmon and avocado, bougatsan (a croissant-and-custard-pie hybrid), spicy burgers and “breakfast pizzas”.
Details Most mains are about €5 (£4.40) (estrella.gr); Pavlou Mela Street
Portions are huge at this hip bistro/bar in the Excelsior Hotel, so don’t over-order. Slide into a booth, sip an expertly made Rum Forest Rum from the excellent list of cocktails and tuck into well-executed staples such as macaroni cheese, barbecue pork sliders and chicken Caesar salad. The music’s great.
Details Macaroni cheese costs €9; a glass of Macedonian wine is €5 (excelsiorhotel.gr); Komninon
Mpakaliarakia tou Aristou
There’s fantastic fish and chips in Thessaloniki and none better than at this canteen-style spot with lino tiles next to the port. Little English is spoken, but pack in with the locals and order sizzlingly fresh cod or squid.
Details A huge platter of crispy squid with garlic sauce and fried potatoes (with a side order of bread) costs from €9 (no website); Katouni
This popular deli and bar has industrial-chic decor and a battalion of bearded-hipster waiters dispensing soya cappuccinos, cheese-and-spinach pies and pancakes (Thessalonians are obsessed with pancakes).
Details Pancakes with honey cost €7 (ergonfoods.com); Pavlou Mela Street
This taverna on the edge of trendy Ladadika is a great place for anchovies, chicken livers, fried cheese and sardines, washed down with tsipouro (the local fire water) or a chilled Vergina beer.
Details Main courses start at about €8 (panellinion.gr); Doxis
For the price of a drink, you can hop aboard a pirate ship for a 30-minute cruise around the bay and the chance to admire Thessaloniki’s waterfront. Boats dock by the White Tower, and a coffee or a beer costs €5 (£4.40). It’s cheesy, but fun, and there’s no need to book in advance.
Julia Brookes was a guest of Sunvil Holidays (020 8758 4758, sunvil.co.uk). Three nights’ B&B at the Bristol costs from £557pp, including flights from the UK to Thessaloniki, transfers and an excellent walking tour
Exclusive offer: Times Expert Traveller
Save up to 30% on a standard room for five nights’ B&B and flights. From £349pp; valid Apr–Oct. Price based on October. Call 020 3811 5394 or see the website thetimes.co.uk/cityhotel
To book this unique offer use code SAT1703. Terms apply