While staying in Thessaloniki we spend a lot of time on going out, having delicious meals and enjoying the vibrant nightlife. During one of these evenings I met Christina Drakopoulou and asked her, if she knows any graffiti artists or recommendable places for streetart. And yes, she knew. Her place: The Colors Hotel. Actually there are three of them. The Colors Hotels are old remodeled buildings with artworks of local sprayers. Again a magic meeting, it could have been fate or it just happened by accident, but of course we made an appointment for a visit. A few days later I met Christina at the building in 13 Tsimski Street, she showed me the place and we recorded an informative interview, as well we made a little movie about the place and some of the artistic rooms.
The concept of the Colors Hotel is just creatively great, a combination of historic influence and modern elements. In December of 2011 the first Colors Hotel opened in the city center in a listed building which was previously subjected to a complete renovation. Christina and her brother started the business with a small group, meanwhile there are 35 people included. As a manager, designer and organizer of the creative place she developed an art concept which changed the accommodation place to much more than just a hotel. Each room has its own theme with furniture design and colorful painting on the walls. Christina works together with several local artists who do their artwork in the different rooms. She and the designer Sophia Tsoukala have an idea about the special theme and the style; the artists put in their own inspiration and they can basically express themselves how they want. These results are astonishing and they give each room an individual special vibe. The sprayer APSET did various murals and little graffiti in the three hotels, we spoke with him as well in another interview you can read and listen to here (coming soon).
If you stay in Thessaloniki you should definitely have a visit at one of the Colors Dependencies, even if you are not a hotel guest. There is as well the beautiful Garden Bar with Greek culinary specialties, nice music and delicious cocktails. As well you will find there again colorful designed murals of APSET on the walls. Another additional gadget is the wonderful “Massage.Me Wellness Center” with a spa and a relaxing area which is located in two of the three hotels. Altogether it’s an all-round travel experience which doesn’t just stop at the door room. The employees are also enterprising, open and like to inform about the interesting places, give insider tips and recommend locations in which they also go themselves. In 2017 they received the Silver Alpha Design Award for the Urban Soul Project and in 2018 they won the German Design Award for Excellent Communication Design with Sophia Tsoukala and the German Design Award for Interior Architecture with the Urban Soul Project. As well in 2018 Massage.Me was announced the Boutique Spa of the Year in the European Awards of the Luxury Travel Guide.
Here you can listen to the interview with the hotel manager Christina Drakopoulou which we did in the room called Graffiti. She explains the concept in detail, tells the story of the hotel and their upcoming plans for the next months. In the following, a large part of the interview is also written down, as well passages from the video and our visiting tour through the hotel are included in the text.
When did you start with the hotel? When did it open?
The first hotel opened in December 2011. It was with 15 apartments, each one a theme. After a year and a half in June 2013 we opened the second on in Ladadika. It´s with 12 rooms in a listed building. Again all of them are very different. And in November 2017 we opened this one here in 13 Tsimiski Street. And it´s with 21 rooms, all different again. And in next May we will open the fifth floor with five more rooms. So it has in total then 26 rooms. And in the next few month we will open eleven more rooms in the next door building. So yes, we are keeping up with this concept of central location, big rooms, cozy rooms, but also different rooms and designs. We want it to be and we are thinking like ourselves, we are trying to think: How would I like it when I go into a room? What would I like to see if I visit the city for the first time? I would like to stay centrally. So everything is accessible by foot. I want the hotel to be clean and I would like it to be a bit more interesting than my house. I live in my house every day. When I travel and when I see something which is near my heart with the design it makes me travel even further. So it excites all my senses. Like wow, this is a new environment, it´s completely different. I think travelers like that feeling. They go like somewhere completely different than what they are used to.
How many people are working in your hotel business?
So yes, we started small. So me and my brother and Sophia Tsoukala from 360creative, she is our graphic designer and web designer as well. It was a small business we were working. We are doing all jobs. And after a while the team got bigger and bigger. My brother´s wife Mito came into the team, now we are about 35 people working together. But we have kept the core. Now we are working for example with Stelios, who is the artist APSET, and who is our streetart designer. And he takes part in most of our concepts. We do have an urban soul project, they are our architects and they design our rooms. And all of these creative teams have been awarded for their jobs here. This is a hotel that has received three awards for design. So we also received an award for the spa and massage. Yes, it´s good when you see what you are thinking becoming reality and then people like it as well.
The place here is not like other hotels with various similar rooms, here everything is individually made and styled.
Yes, for us I think the biggest challenge and the biggest joy in our work is when somebody visits Thessaloniki and visits Colors and when they go home or when they check out, when they are like: Thank you so much! I really enjoyed it! Because we also taking extra care to show them around the city. Our stuff is all very passionate, very fresh, and they like going out. They know about the city, they eat out. And when we have guests here we take care of them, we give them good ideas what to do, what´s on. So they understand better how the living is, how life is in Thessaloniki. I think it´s while you travel how life is in different cultures. How people think. How their every day is. So when our guests tell us apart from they liked the room, that they liked as well the city and wow the food, the sweets, the people, the atmosphere. That´s when we are much much happier. Because it´s not only about making nice rooms. It´s about feeling like a destination is a whole thing. Is rounded experience.
When you make new places, or even here, why not make a place in the ground floor where you have concerts, performance or something like that? Did you think about this?
We did, definitely. We do want to have places where local artists can come and show their art and perform. Or a exhibition or thinks like that. But I think that there are other people who are very very good at this. So I think everybody can do their job. There are some people who can do that much better than we do. So we offer hospitality, like a little bit over extended hospitality, but where we want to focus. That´s where we are good at. And there are so many other people who are good in the music scene or with cinemas or theaters. So you know, we stay there. And we know creative people around town and our guests, we tell them: Go there, see this, do that. It´s a nice community. We try to offer place to the local communities though. Like with exhibitions we do here for a few days. We do things like that. But there are many other people who have more time and energy to do that. So not everybody can do everything.
So each room has a different style?
All the rooms a different with an own theme. We have a room called Recycle, another called Books, or Romans or Cinema. These are all things which inspire us. In all our hotels you can see, in all our rooms we have different themes. In another hotel we have the room called Love or another one called Sunset or Garden. This makes as well the hotel name: COLORS. It is as well about when you travel and where you travel ends. Does it stop at the room? No, you can have some more there as well. So how is this room going to be, next time it will be another room. You think about in which room are you staying. So each rooms extends in some way the travel experience. And that´s what we like. And that´s why you travel actually.
The concept is very nice, so you take the past and the present and make something new out of it, but nothing gets lost or forgotten, everything stays in it and is preserved.
Yes, and that´s actually Thessaloniki as well. The past lives together with the future. And this is what we want for the people who stay in our hotel to see as well. We really respect the past, but life goes on and we can work with it hand in hand. We are very much centrally located and the whole city center is very much alike.
This here is the Garden Bar, where we make breakfast in the morning. Greek delicacies and traditional products. As well Mediterranean and everything. It´s as well like a restaurant or a bar, people who are not staying in the hotel can come and eat there or have brunch. The artists APSET did the decoration painting of the Garden Bar and as well in many of the individual rooms.
Here is the cool elevator. We are going now on the third floor. It is a listed building, so it is protected. And the building is also considered as a work of art. So what you see here is from the 1910s. So it´s now here for over a century. The building was erected initially for exhibitions for furniture. You will see very tall ceilings and it´s full of light.
Here we have in the middle a little installation about some nature and environment. Here we have as well the balloon graffiti by SAME84 and APSET. It´s a middle way to heaven and they mad the balloons going up to the sun, very nice.
This room here is called graffiti. Here is a lot of work from APSET. Each room is completely individually designed. We like it that there are not only like faces or national objects. We tell the artists the concept, we tell them what inspires us and about the theme. And then we let them do what they like. All the buildings in the area around are considered as works of art. So what you can see a lot here in Thessaloniki is a mix of modern and all of its past. So the city is five cities build one on top of the others. So you have like the Hellenistic, the Roman, then you have the Byzantine, then the Ottomans and then you have the current city. As you walk around the city, you may will see some parts at a lower level. That means that they are older. And the lower you are, the older they are. For example if you walk down to the church Hagia Sophia it´s three meters below street level. So it is from the early Byzantine time. And on the opposite you see the beginning of the Roman Hippodrome like six or seven meter under the street level. I think it´s fascinating. And all of the city center works side by side. If you walk, you see somebody going to a bank or to work, and then around the corner you see something which has been there for a very long time. It makes it I think very charming.
I will take you to another room, now we are in Romance. Thessaloniki was called the most erotic city in Greece because the history behind it. We did have a lot of erotic clubs in the metropolis in some point. And it was as well for some time a very poor looking city. Here the room is a little bit like summer camp, you can go upstairs and it is a little bit playful as well.
So we do combine the rooms with streetart, but we like as well a lot typography. So this room here is called Blue. Because it´s all made very blue, from the bottom, the maps, very blue. And here we have some contemporary typography. There is written: “A quiet mind is all you need”. But it´s not that obvious to read. With all these paintings and these words and design, we want to make the stay here much more unique. I think not all rooms will be loved by everyone. But I think our guests will really understand how Thessaloniki also works. Because it´s not only about having a hotel or visiting the hotel, it´s as well about visiting the city and meeting with locals. I think the hotel will embrace that and it is very well placed in the local community. And we are really happy like that. And we make sure that our guests feel good. They are not only like tourists. They go out where we go out, they eat what we eat. So that´s the only way how to really understand a city and get the people who live there. To understand the philosophy. And I think it´s a good spot to visit. It´s a very young city. There are a lot of things to do, partying, business, many exhibitions, things like that.
Here we have my favorite room, it´s called Nature. The walls are with leaves and green and in the middle this here is like a little tree house. It´s a very popular concept for families or parties or for their bachelors. Even for a business meeting. If you come here for an appointment and have to stay in the same room like your co-worker, here it is some fun. You can figure out who is sleeping on the top and who is on the bottom. We even have here the hammock, so you can feel like at home and even a bit childish. You can read your book and relax.
Colorful artwork design with the message writing: Honey, I´m home. By Sophia Tsoukala from 360Creative. Included in the interior and furnishing there are bee elements like honeycombs and wax patterns.
Here we have the room named Lines, the creator and designer is as well Sophia Tsoukala from 360Creative. As the name implies, this concept revolves around lines and lanes, but also to play the wordplay with lines and outside the usual distances.
The rooms name is Maze designed by the artist Sophia Tsoukala from 360Creative. On the wall there are not only painted graphic forms and structures, the six blocks symbolize as well letters. It´s not that easy to read, but if you know you will see it. Three letters on the first line, three on the next one, a little playing with the words, the name of the room and the theme. There is written: AMAZED.
So what are the next creative plans?
We keep the design and the concept running and we keep the guests coming. The city is just perfect for a little weekend break. There is a lot of history, there is a lot of culture, there is a lot of food. It´s a great city for food. Among Greeks Thessaloniki is supposed to be the best in Greece. Because it combines Greek cuisine with the East, the Balkans, some influence is from Italy. And all of this makes it much more aromatic and much more diverse. Apart from that we have the biggest student community among the Balkans. So it is a very young city. The youngest city in Europe actually. It is very very good for nightlife. And Thessaloniki is among the top seven destinations across the world for nightlife. Even though it is a small city, it´s very vibrant. So you do get this feeling that it is a very lively city. But as well it is a small city. So people are more smiling, they are more open. Our Greek guests and our foreign guests, they say that they feel very welcome here. And we are happy when this happens.
COLORS Urban Hotel
Adress: 13 Tsimski Street
Phone: +30 2310 27 28 29
COLORS Ladadika Central
Adress: 1 Oplopoiou Street & Katouni
Phone: +30 2316 007676
COLORS Rooms & Apartments
Adress: 21 Valaoritou Street
Phone: +30 2310 502280
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