It was getting late, and Basil and I knew we would not finish our work in Sparta before the office closed. Weighing the choice of driving back to Athens versus overnighting in Laconia somewhere, we both agreed that it made sense to find ourselves a bed locally. Of course, after a few years in our accidental hospitality business, we both dreaded a night at one of the truly “Spartan” concrete box hotels that lined the main street in Sparta. Remembering some signs I had seen along the road coming into town, we headed out on the road toward Mystras, the Byzantine city and Unesco World Heritage Site about 7 km outside of Sparti. The signs were generic, PYRGOS OF MYSTRAS, appearing at regular intervals along the road, with little indication of the hotel that stood at the end of our journey. Approaching the village of Mystras, the signs lead us up a curvy narrow road, twisting and turning once or twice before we stood in front of a lovely stone building, lit from below, with large and lovely imposing wooden doors. Although it wasn’t late, night had fallen somewhat early for Greece, it was later September already. Not knowing what lay behind the doors, Basil hopped out of the car and went inside. Scruffy and I waited in the car for what seemed like an eternity. When he returned, calling Scruffy outside, by his side was Maria, the manager of this small Laconian guesthouse, leaning into the car and greeting us with a warm friendly smile. Excitedly Basil encouraged me inside, and despite his huge smile I was still taken aback by the guesthouse as I entered the obviously lovingly restored former home of a local physician. From the courtyard adjacent to the dining area, to each of the seven individually decorated guestrooms, no detail has been spared in this hideaway just a few hours from downtown Athens. Lovely murals adorn the walls of the dining area, where a scrumptous morning meal is served – complete with homemade baked treats – good enough for us to try to convince the woman on duty that morning, also the baker, to consider packaging them for guests to take along as they explore Laconia, Monemvassia, local wineries and even Ancient Olympia from the quite mountain village of Mystras. Pyrgos of Mystras is also a perfect weekend escape for those who want to do no more than curl up in the garden with a book, wander the village streets and perhaps explore the monastaries of the ancient Byzantine city of Mistras. In fact, it is such a little slice of peaceful heaven that even those who come only to use it as a base best be forewarned … you will not want to leave.
Visit their website at www.pyrgosmystra.com, tell Maria that Scruffy sent you!