For travel aficionado Sofi Hatzivassiliou, travel isn’t just a passion, it’s a way of life. There is a cathartic element in discovering new places, cultures and people; it nourishes wisdom, spurs personal growth and is a reminder of our shared humanity. For the last decade, and following a successful career in advertising, exploring the world has been Sofi’s full-time profession. Born out of a desire to share her travel experiences, she created Original Senses, a boutique travel agency designed to curate bespoke journeys that exceed expectations and take us beyond our comfort zone.
A member of Virtuoso, the prestigious worldwide luxury travel network, her company is powered by passion and inspiration. Based on in-depth research and personal experience – she has travelled to over 100 countries forging countless personal connections – her recommendations are tailored to the discerning travelers, not just in terms of their specific interests, requirements and disposition, but also on their openness to new experiences. The latter, according to Sofi, is paramount in making the most of a journey; one has to be open to all the things a destination can offer which is why prior to travel she provides clients with a gift box containing information and insights on their destination’s history, culture, environment and cuisine. While the world is her oyster, her extensive knowledge of Greece, keen eye, and her incredible network of connections, make her insights priceless as she revels in showcasing her home country’s secrets and beauties. We recently caught up with Sofi to ask her about her passion for travel, her personal favorite destinations, and the essentials dear to her heart.
Photo: “The red sands of the Kalahari Desert”, Namibia
How would you define yourself in three words?
Travel Guru, Connector, Storyteller.
A project/initiative you’re most proud of?
Founding Original Senses - a Boutique Bespoke Travel Agency in Athens, where I collaborate with over 40 talented people that I really love working with. I am also most proud of my ongoing collaboration with the Museum of Cycladic Art; in the last eight years we’ve explored the globe, pursuing cultural events, discovering civilizations accompanied by experts in their field, and truly peeking behind the doors of global destinations.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Anywhere, Everywhere, All year-round.
Traveling allows me to connect with people around the world, and through their stories, I get reminded of how the world is fascinating and awe-inspiring.
Which art/design/style icons you are most inspired by?
Shared cultural aesthetics are my style statement.
Anything created with raw materials from nature; marble, clay, stone and ceramics. The simplicity and emptiness of the artwork and architectural sites by Hiroshi Sugimoto, the rise of Japandi style, the Cycladic minimalist forms, African Prints, Motifs and Jewellery.
Which colours are you currently enamoured with?
Earthy Colours like Burnt Orange, Sahara Yellow, Olive Green, and Blue Gray.
A timeless design piece you own?
A Minas for Georg Jensen Sterling Silver ring.
What’s an accessory you had for ages?
An egg-shaped pendant passed down from generation to generation in my family on the day of birth.
What item in your closet do you wear the most?
Handmade scarves and pashminas from all over the world. I particularly love one that I brought back home from the Changthang plateau of Ladakh. Indian Kani shawls revive traditional motifs and craftsmanship.
The beauty product you can’t live without?
My Perfume - Le Labo Santal33.
Three Instagram accounts you check daily?
@dezeen, @slow_roads, @ft_howtospendit
Favourite destination and hotel?
I’ve travelled to over 100 countries, visited otherworldly locations and unique properties. Still, my passion lies in staying at hotel jewels, off the beaten track, where you feel like home and where the owners become friends, like Dar Ahlam in Morocco, Palazzo Margherita in Puglia, Serra Cafema in Namibia, Dwarika’s in Katmandu, Suján Jawai in the Rajasthan desert, Hoshinoya in Kyoto, Ett Hem in Stockholm, Corral del Ray in Sevilla, Explora hotel and team in Torres Del Pine in Chile.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done in your life?
Traveling across the plains of Ethiopia whilst five months pregnant definitely comes to mind!
What do you miss most when travelling?
Which city would you chose to live in if you had to move?
Paris or Cape Town
What souvenirs would you bring back home?
Over my many voyages I have created a varied collection of ceramic plates, indigenous jewellery, local art, African baskets, travel books, anything that captures my emotions and attention
Your latest discovery?
The incredible beauty found in imperfection.
Teshima Museum overlooking the Seto Island Sea, The Guggenheim in Bilbao, The MET in New York, The Ethnological Museum of Thrace, 21 21 Design site in Tokyo, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in Paris, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen, and the Museum of the Royal Tombs at Aigai, the Royal Capital of Macedon.
Teshima Museum overlooking the Seto Island Sea
What is on your bookshelf?
Mostly books of all sorts, also candles, art pieces and things that I love.
Who is your favourite hero or heroine in fiction?
Maestro from the French Series ‘Il etait une fois…l’homme’ that chronicles the overall history of mankind.
What quote do you live by?
"if you doubt your power, you give power to your doubts.”
What is your guilty pleasure?
Speeding, and fine Malt whiskey, but I never mix the two!
What is your most treasured possession?
Prayer flags that I brought back from Everest Base Camp.
Your idea of happiness?
A meditative life of reflection and connection
Patagonia Torres del Paine, getting ready for the W trek