The price range we quote is for the touristic high season, not Thessaloniki's convention high season. Due to the depressed economy and poor tourist season, most hotel prices dropped in 2011. If things improve, they will go back up in 2012. Thessaloniki is a major convention center, not just in Greece, but for the entire Balkans. Almost every Greek businessman, doctor, politician, lawyer -- well, you get the idea -- attends a convention in Thessaloniki at least once. Understandably, many of the city's hotels focus on its commercial visitors, not on tourists. The recommendations below avoid the large, expensive hotels that appeal more to business travelers than to independent travelers (good location and pleasant accommodations). We also omit the okay but not appealing hotels near the railroad station; these hotels are a long uninteresting hike from anything you want to see.
Much more appealing to independent travelers are the newer hotels either in the Ladadika (the trendy restored harborside area) and reliable favorites on and around the main squares and thoroughfares. Sprinkled throughout Ladadika and the town center are a number of "boutique" hotels, notably the Capsis Bristol Hotel, Andromeda, Luxembourg and Daios. In addition, some old standbys, such as the Tourist, Le Palace, the Olympia, and the Plaza Art Hotel have undergone extensive renovations.
One out-of-the-way hotel I will mention, since it consistently makes Odyssey magazine's annual list of the Best Hotels in Greece: the 74-room Les Lazaristes, 16 Kolokotroni, (www.domotel.gr; tel. 2310/647-400), in a restored tobacco factory, with big rooms, lavish bathrooms, a spa, and pool, good restaurant -- the works. But, you'll be in unappealing location, either taking a taxi wherever you want to go or waiting for their shuttle bus (about 10 min. to the center); doubles from 100€.
It makes sense to reserve in advance year-round to avoid difficulties during Thessaloniki's many trade fairs, festivals, and associated cultural events. Bookings peak in September and October, when the International Trade Fair is quickly followed by the month-long Demetria cultural festival (not to mention the Festival of Greek Songs and the Film Festival). Hotel prices can be especially confusing, with online booking often advertising, but not always producing, prices much lower than those quoted by the hotels. Tip: Expect a hefty surcharge (sometimes 50% or more) on the summer high-season rates that we list below during the autumn fairs and festivals.
In addition to the reviewed well-established options, here are three relatively new centrally located hotels to consider that were offering surprisingly reasonable rates in 2011. Most rooms are ornately themed at the elegant five-star Andromeda, 5 Komninon St. (www.andromeda-hotel.gr; tel. 2310/254-760; doubles from 85€-140€), with a Jacuzzi in the Tokyo Room, stark white decor in the Italian minimalist room, rose-colored brocades in the Viennese room, and so forth -- the so forth including at least one suit of armor. The adjacent Luxembourg, 6 Komninon St. (www.hotelluxembourg.gr; tel. 2310/252-600), has more traditionally elegant rooms (soothing pastels, heavy curtains and bedspreads), with doubles from 85€. Both are small, with personable staff and great locations steps from the action on seafront Nikis Street. If these two keep their prices this low, they will be very good choices, indeed. The Daios Hotel, 59 Nikis St. (www.daioshotels.com; tel. 2310/250-200; doubles from 120€), has a seaside location near the White Tower, steps from more cafes than you can count (including their own elegant one) and minimalist rooms in beige and blonde tones. I find the public rooms here engaging and the bedrooms boring. A big plus: excellent soundproofing on the windows and sea views from many rooms.
Just Outside Thessaloniki
When I'm in Thessaloniki, I want to be in Thessaloniki. But if you are just passing through and changing planes at the Thessaloniki airport, you may want to collapse at the nearby Hyatt Regency Casino Thessaloniki (tel. 2310/401-234), which has a large casino, pools, tennis courts, spas, restaurants -- everything, in short, to pass the time between flights. The casino is popular year-round, mostly with foreigners, and often draws charter flights filled with gamblers from the Balkans. This casino is open 24 hours, and the 25€ entrance fee is often waived between 8am and 6pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.