The first foodie hotel in the world
“Ergon House” is the first hotel in the world that has been focused on quality food and is aimed at an audience with great demand from the taste of their dish, drink and coffee. It is essentially a market, but it differs from the others, as on the floors above it, there are rooms to stay.
It is a new, innovative project, where the food is combined with hospitality and addresses the needs of the new, modern, gastronomic traveler. Four floors, 38 rooms, eating places, communal kitchens for workshops, cellar, bar and gym. The central axis of the design is the reference to the traditional Greek architecture, which, together with the decoration, is treated by the Thessaloniki Urban Soul Project and the Douzis brothers.
Giorgos and Thomas Douzis, third generation in the food market, became famous with the modern ERGON grocery-restaurants. In 2004, collaborating with small Greek producers, making a range of products with their own brand in modern packaging, were loved for their quality and simplicity while they grew the business in Athens, Thessaloniki, Santorini, Corfu, Skiathos, Lefkada, Rhodes, Halkidiki, London and Brussels.
Nowadays, there are 13 of their stores in Greece and abroad and 1200 traditional products from more than 150 producers. Ergon has become a global brand in Mediterranean cuisine and Greek cuisine with the dynamics of selected high-quality content, aesthetic appeal and its commitment to cultivate and promote small and honest local producers.
The two brothers, together with Kostas Karatzas and Nikos Geros, a Greek-Australian entrepreneur, at the end of 2017, found out that there was a suitable venue in Athens to create a similar to the Ergon market in Thessaloniki. However, this project could only be realized if the building became a shopping center, something that was immediately dismissed.
Through the fermentation of ideas, that one of a hotel foodie that would combine both an unforgettable experience of eating and staying emerged. With it, they won the Pangaea contest for the use of the building and eventually got it by making the best offer. There were investments that exceeded 2 million euros and the transformation succeeded. The innovative hotel opened its gates in March 2019.
At 23 Mitropoleos, where the Cervantes Institute was housed, their own dream called “Ergon House” came true in collaboration with the “Modernist” hotel team in Thessaloniki. Its role is to be a real house-made hotel, and anything one can do at home but does not have the time, mood, or the required materials, they can do it there.
The 3.600 sq.m. house different “markets” and activities. The glass atrium, where natural light floods, is impressive, as are the urban farmers who harvest the vertical garden opposite a mural from the world-famous graffiti artist INO. The still point of the revolving world of “Ergon House” is a 200-year-old olive tree, a sacred symbol of peace and friendship, rooted in ancient Greek tradition and mythology.
From the tables around it, the visitor becomes a spectator of the active day of the Agora, while the aroma of fresh bread coming out of the wood-burning oven mixes with that of fresh roast coffee. Ergon House has the highest appreciation for coffee and collaborates with award-winning Taf Roasters in Athens. As riders of the 3rd Wave, Taf is internationally renowned for sourcing the highest quality green coffee as a farm-to-cup artisanal product.
The “place-to-be” for all the greens-lovers would like to visit is located in the vertical orchard lining one side of the 25m atrium. The plants receive natural daylight and are cared for by experts on hydroponics and aquaponics. There, seasonal aromatic herbs such as oregano, basil, rosemary, as well as lettuce, cherry tomatoes are grown, which are harvested and offered to the visitors.
On the left, there is the fishmonger’s with the freshest seafood. Choosing the freshest ingredients for cooking is always the priority of Ergon House, as they know that even the simplest recipes can prove to be masterpieces when the right ingredients are used.
A little further, there is the butcher’s and the mainly-local meat, fresh and matured, and prime cuts, coming from both Greece and abroad. As Ergon House writes on its website, Greece can be known mainly for its sea, seafood and islands, but there is another side, with mountains, small isolated villages and meat-based recipes in the Northern cuisine. And as everything starts with raw materials, those responsible want to maintain these traditional meat methods and techniques and pass them on to future generations.
Walking further in, one can find the place for the retailing of cheeses and sausages, while on the shelves around, they can find delicatessen products and all-purpose foods such as milk, tomato juice, pasta, and so on. The oversized mural with folklore elements warms the space and gives it an authentic tone of Greekness.
In the Market, over 3,000 codes are hosted from both standard foods, beverages and soft drinks, as well as souvenirs and kitchen items. Almost everything is produced by Greek farmers, breeders and producers, and many of them carry the Ergon trademark or have the brand “The Grandmother”, the traditional products of the Petros Brothers.
Visitors, regardless of their mood, can find what they want in the Market and explore the cooking areas on each floor. They can prepare any recipe in one of the fully equipped communal kitchens or turn the tables on your local friends by inviting them to a home-cooked meal served at the communal table that seats up to twelve guests.
Moreover, the visitor can have their meal prepared by a chef of Ergon, who is there to share his skills and passion for Mediterranean and Greek cuisine with guests. Chefs also offer cooking classes for people or groups staying at the hotel or being outside guests. Romanticism and the ritual of organizing a table cannot be overstated, and participation in the journey of preparation allows couples, families or groups of friends to leave their distractions for a while and participate in the simple pleasures of the moment.
Ergon House’s menu reflects its ethos and vision, being simple but sophisticated and bringing to the table the wonderful Greek flavors, Mediterranean hospitality and cheerfulness. “We like the term “sobremesa” given by our Spanish cousins to the time that extends around and after a meal and is spent in discussion, relaxation and prolongation of the joy of the older social ritual,” they write on their site.
The foodie hotel has also provided for those who do not want to break their daily fitness routine or want to exercise. On the second floor, there is a gym that offers treadmills, exercise bike, elliptical trainer, training bench, TRX and balance balls.
Ergon House also includes the bar area, which was completed with the help of the distinguished Athenian bar, The Clumsies. Its cellar stores a refined selection of Greek wines and a set of artisanal beers, available for purchase or enjoyment at Ergon Agora, as well as in every visitor’s room.
The ambition of Ergon House is for people to experience it as their home in Athens and to do things there. Thomas Douzis explains that hospitality begins and ends in food. All rooms include breakfast, which will be a la carte in the Agora’s restaurant, where a local eats, where the visitor can shop for the things the locals shop for their home, drink coffee and open the laptop among the residents of the city. It is a food hub where one can spend his whole day and live as an Athenian even for a few days or hours.
Retail is an essential factor in the thoughts of the Douzis brothers. They want this place to be a meeting place for tourists, people staying nearby, and the others who work in the city center, and when they return to their home, they want to have the opportunity to shop for their needs without the stress of the supermarket of their district closing.
Completing this holistic hospitality experience built on the foundations of Greek Food, Ergon House offers contemporary living spaces spread over the floors above the marketplace. All rooms include our signature breakfast and come in four sizes, with privileged access to communal kitchens and lounges, a gym and panoramic rooftop terrace. The spaces are a collaboration with leading local designers and artists – the tribute to Greece ever-present in natural materials, traditional craft and references to the vernacular, paired with a strong contemporary line.