Agrikia's regular small ad in a Swiss newspaper portrayed an attractive Bed-and-Breakfast; this information was confirmed by its appealing website. Impressed, I decided to reserve a room for a week's vacation. I called the B&B to get more details and to coordinate accommodation and flight dates. To my surprise, during the conversation, the Italian co-manager, Marcello, in passing told me that no breakfast would be served. No breakfast in a B&B?! However, he quickly reassured me that I would find everything in the room to make my own breakfast; furthermore, every morning they would hang a fresh croissant on the door. He explained that the breakfast area was now being used for photography courses and reflexology treatment. Duly pacified, I decided to sign up for the photography, only to be told that there would be no course during my stay due to "lack of interest".
Things were not going to get better. Upon arrival I found a room which was unpleasantly basic if not bare; neither was it impressive in its cleanliness. The plastic shower curtain had a stained, yellow-brownish hem and the linen and towels were worn. Any expectation of making my own breakfast quickly evaporated: Apart from an electric kettle, plastic cups and plates, some cutlery and three teabags, there was nothing. No coffee, no sugar, no milk, no jam. Remembering the laudatory comments on TripAdvisor about Muriel’s delicious jams and pastries, I decided to try my luck with the female half of management. I might as well have chosen to run headlong into a thicket of cactuses. Instead of going into friendly, problem-solving mode, the French lady promptly attacked: "What do you expect now, that I'm going to make you your breakfast?" I was piqued enough to tell her that I found it unfair and possibly illegal to represent themselves as a B&B if no breakfast was provided, and then failing to make proper arrangements for guests to serve themselves. The tone for the rest of my stay had been firmly set. When enquiring about bus transit times, I was told to find that information at the bus stop. How good is the restaurant in the village? "We haven't been there this season, so we cannot give you any recommendation." Other restaurants? I was elated to be handed a list of restaurants throughout the island, but thought I was having a nightmare when I noticed that there weren't any addresses and telephone numbers.
Now that I had finally understood that I was completely on my own, I quickly found my way about the island thanks to impressively friendly and helpful restaurant owners, waiters, travel agents, car hire companies, shopkeepers and even strangers encountered on the street. Paros is picturesque, clean and - thanks to the lack of an international airport - nicely off the beaten track. The food usually is excellent and the near-constant cooling breeze heavenly.
Getting back to the Agrikia "B&B", there are other, lesser shortcomings and irritations compared to similar establishments where I have stayed: No credit card facilities - about 50% of accommodation in advance by bank transfer and the balance in cash immediately upon arrival; the sluggish internet connection, which is advertised as "fast" on their website; the haphazard cleaning of my room by a seemingly untrained - albeit enthusiastic and friendly - cleaning lady; no space to display brochures, and, most importantly, no area where the hosts may interact with the guests, make them feel at home and get their feedback.
Now to the crux of the matter. This non-Greek management couple, to my mind, has not grasped the concept of a Bed & Breakfast. To quote Wikipedia (abridged): "Key needs include: Pampering and personalised service in an attractive location in an attractive house, as opposed to more 'standard' hotel rooms. The following attributes are also appealing: Homely or wholesome atmosphere; Area for conversing with other guests; Ability to tap into local knowledge of attractions and activities in the area. The friendliness of the host is the most important factor, followed by easy access to other places. Bed & Breakfasts provide mutual benefits for both the visitor and the operator. Visitors have the opportunity for a relaxing break in a homely environment. Operators have the opportunity to develop a profitable business, make new friends and contacts, understand the cultures and lifestyles of others, and to educate guests about their way of life."
Incidentally, the croissant was dwarf-sized and arrived at about 08:30, long after I had left for the day.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Agrikia residence is a small and family complex. Its welcome is warm and ideal for relaxation and well-being. The beautiful view of the sea and the mountains as well as its large garden will delight you immediately.Agrikia has:- 8 rooms with all the comfort. Each room has its own terrace with view or access to the garden.The rooms are equipped with fridge and free WIFI. - 2 studios for 2 and 3 persons, equipped with the same comfort but also a kitchenette.- 2 studios communicating with a double room (kitchen and 2 bathrooms with shower), allowing us to accommodate families with young children (4 and 5 people.).There is also a large garden (1000 m2) for a relaxing among the flowers and herbs.The beautiful beaches of Aliki is located only 300 meters away! ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Agrikia Bed & Breakfast Paros/Aliki, Greece