In an old factory on Kodogianni Street in the Kifissiá industrial estate, the last station on the green metro line of the always surprising Athens, the clatter of sewing machines sounds. Hassan, Giannis and Mrs. Eleni make shirts, pants and some slippers with towel fabric and a coconut fiber base.

That is exactly the material from which the successful Coco-Mat brand of beds, furniture, wooden bicycles, and now also five hotels that combine Nordic luxury (which is noticeable, but not apparent) with the environment, the smells, and Mediterranean flavors.

A curious sustainability and circular economy exercise is taking place on the third floor of the factory. Emma Efmorfidi, daughter of the founder of Coco-Mat, Paul Efmorfidis, is the person responsible for This was a sheet, the company that converts all those used but reusable materials into products that have a second life.

“We started with some sandals. Each pair was different and different from each other with the idea of ​​empathy, of diversity. Her sole is made of coconut fiber, which is visible to give an idea of ​​transparency,” she says, accompanied by her dog Milú. Her mother’s name is Bobby, the Flemish name of Tintin’s dog, which in this language is called Kuifje.

Efmorfidi, who speaks perfect Spanish, saw that the chain’s hotels created “a lot of waste,” so they decided to reuse it to return it to clients (in the case of slippers) or to staff in the form of shirts, for example. “This shirt was once a hotel sheet,” reads one of the soft-colored garments.

“The idea was collective,” says the young executive director, “my father, very ingenious and a little chaotic, also helped (laughs). Another idea came from a hotel outside of our chain and he asked us if we could turn his old sheets into laundry bags. We told them of course.” At the moment they have recycled 10,000 towels and 5,000 sheets.

“The image of sustainability that you give as an establishment is very great, it is a very good image with very little money,” Efmorfidi summarizes. It is a special day in Greece and all the workers (also those who manufacture the bikes downstairs) get together and have a snack before finishing the day. All except Hassan, a Bengali, who continues to rebound.

Back in Athens, the slippers with the coconut fiber sole and old towel, the laundry bag and more recycled clothes await in room 108 of the Coco-Mat BC hotel in Athens, a five-star jungle that unfolds its category with an exuberant and casual style. Room 108 has a large balcony and views… apparently dull.

To the right is a space where plants and more plants grow (in the capital there is a lot of cement and the neighbors put greenery in every corner they can) and in front you can see an interior patio that serves as paid parking with the back of a building chipped with its windows becoming more and more discolored as it gains height. Ugly? Rather the answer would be Athenian.

The hotel’s backyard is a postcard of the purest Athens, a city that lives by swallowing beauty and decadence and choking on both. In room 108 – thanks for the scale, which is what makes you feel truly at home – you can buy the bed where you sleep and, with the window open, hear the distant and delicious symphony of the traffic on Singroú Avenue, not far away. of the old brewery, now a museum.

To see the Acropolis you have to go up to the eighth floor to bathe and there it is majestic and naked. Clean and scented with lavender but without her jewelry… you have to go to London to see them. The looting of the British Museum continues. Also seen, impetuous, is the Likavitos (“Wolves”) hill, with its small hermitage at the top that embraces the Siamese and antithetical neighborhoods of Exarchia and Kolonaki.

The hotel springs up like a jungle wherever it can and where no one expects it. Between the spa and the gym there is a store where you can buy the house’s products: from soap to bed, which is the origin of the business of the owner family.

Between the store and the spa, there is a space to relax with a pond where colorful fish flutter and another, separate one, where turtles laze, sticking their heads out looking for the sun that reaches them very softly. In the environment, a recording of birds chirping relaxedly.

Everything is new in the hotel (one of the five of the brand) even the ruins that shine next to the reception and that give the establishment its last name: BC (Before Christ, before Christ in English). The BC is very welcoming, for its colors, for its silence, for its breakfast, full of typical products and pastries, cheese and spinach cakes, also the sweet one, the bougatsa, which is a first cousin of the Lisbon Belem pasteis.

The truth is that it is difficult to go out for a walk, but the surroundings invite you to walk, to the smells of the bitter orange trees that grow in the streets of Makrygianni and Koukaki, quiet and airy neighborhoods. In both of them the camera smokes. A lot of beauty, a lot of past in free fall. A lot of history in ruins, archeology from a past century full of revolts, a civil war in the forties, a military coup at the end of the sixties…

On the one hand, there is a contrast between the two- and three-story houses typical of the beginning of the 20th century in Athens, recently painted and with their blinds without a splinter, and the old mansions, which it is better not to get too close to so as not to end up with your head split open. It’s not that they suspect. They are pure ruin. This city is like football. So. As Bill Shankly, the legendary Liverpool manager, said, football is not a matter of life or death. It is, like Athens, like love, much more important than that.