A trip to the Greek Isles isn’t complete without a stop in Athens, for the history, shopping, and increasingly the capital’s culinary scene. Where you stay is a difficult choice, with both new and old options, in town and in convenient resort locations a short drive – or helicopter ride away. The best hotels and top suites of Athens are the subject of this week’s issue.
1. Hotel Grande Bretagne
Conde Nast Traveler writes, “Sometimes only a classic will do. Presiding over central Syntagma Square since 1874, the GB is almost as much of an Athenian landmark as the Acropolis. Its salons have welcomed treaty-signing politicians, matchmaking socialites and undercover celebrities. Despite several corporate takeovers and makeovers, it still feels reassuringly old-fashioned, all colossal chandeliers, antique paintings and highly polished marble. A piano player tinkles away in the gilded Winter Garden, and the flawless cocktails at Alexander’s Lounge are still deliciously unadventurous. Perks for guests include an indoor and outdoor pool, a wildly expensive spa and prime Parthenon views from the consistently excellent rooftop bar and restaurant.”
The Telegraph adds, “From the liveried doormen to the solicitous maitre d’, service is polished to a tee. The capable concierge will contact you in advance of your stay to share recommendations and make reservations. Guests on the sixth and seventh floors also get a 24-hour butler service. You won’t find a hotel in central Athens with better facilities: there’s a destination spa with various thermal and herbal steam rooms, a mud chamber, ice fountain, reflexology foot spa, outstanding (and very expensive) ESPA and Valmont facials and massages. Wellness facilities also include a well-equipped gym, hair and nail salon and barber shop. From April to October, guests have exclusive access to the outdoor pool on the seventh floor.”
The Royal Suite
Located on the fifth floor of the Hotel Grande Bretagne, the sprawling one-bedroom, two-bathroom Royal Suite encompasses over 4,400 sq.ft, while its many windows frame iconic views of Athens, including Syntagma Square, the Acropolis, the Parliament and Lycabettus Hill.
With impressive views towards the Acropolis, the 2,152 sq.ft Presidential Suite offers an elegant choice of accommodation. Interior décor is classically-inspired with intricate paneling, grand columns, decorative polished-wood floors, crystal chandeliers and an impressive collection of priceless antique furniture.
More suites at Hotel Grand Bretagne.
2. Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens
Conde Nast Traveler reports, “The Astir Palace put the Athens Riviera on the map in the 1960s. After a glossy makeover courtesy of the Four Seasons, it’s back — and exactly what this up-and-coming coastline needed: a full-blown seaside hotel that isn’t stuck in the past. Subdued bedrooms epitomize stealth wealth (do pay the premium for a sea view). High-rollers quaff Champagne cocktails in Martin Brudnizki’s trio of sexy restaurants, while their glamorous wives are cosseted in the waterfront spa. The young and restless can whizz across the bay on water-skis. But you could easily while away day after day on a floating sunbed, watching a parade of superyachts drift by and dazzling sunsets over the Saronic isles. Tricked out like an Art Deco ocean liner, Michelin-starred Pelagos is the best of four sensational, sea-view restaurants.”
The Telegraph adds, “While the resort has the signature Four Seasons look and feel — swathes of polished marble, pale and interesting interiors, extravagant floral arrangements — it also has a strong sense of place. Meyer Davis’ €650 million makeover respects the Astir Palace’s modernist heritage without slipping into retro cliché. In the public spaces, guests can browse beautifully curated books about Greece, replicas and objects from the Benaki Museum, and a museum-grade collection of (mostly Greek) contemporary art. The two restaurants designed by Martin Brudzinski Pelagos and Avra, have a more maximalist aesthetic.”
Arion Riviera Suite
The 4,850 sq.ft. Arion Riviera Suite offers indoor and outdoor living and dining areas to its rooftop garden with plunge pool. Your bedroom features two walk-in closets and private spa facilities, including a steam room.
Arion Royal Suite
The 3,336 sq.ft. Arion Royal Suite features two bedrooms with King beds. It is located on the Ground Floor and features a garden terrace with private plunge pool; kitchen; office area; TV room; walk-in closet, and spa room.
More suites at Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens.
3. King George, a Luxury Collection Hotel
The Telegraph writes, “Bang on Syntagma Square, the commercial and constitutional heart of Athens, King George is within walking distance from most major landmarks. Around the corner is Voukourestiou, the city’s most exclusive shopping street. A metro stop on the doorstep gets you straight to the airport. The lively streets below Syntagma Square are packed with hip restaurants and bars: check out Nolan for radical Greek-Japanese cuisine and Birdman for yakitori and Negronis. Countless stars from Marilyn Monroe to Madonna) have graced these highly polished halls. The cream-and-gold lobby is a shining sea of inlaid marble, antique chairs, and Murano chandeliers – lovely to behold, but not especially good for lounging, as there’s no table service. Nautical prints and vintage maps decorate the corridors; stiff drapes, brocade and velvet abound.”
The 3,766 sq.ft. two-bedroom Penthouse Suite isdistinguished by an expansive private outdoor pool that allows stunning views of the Acropolis from the ninth floor. On the adjacent terrace are charming sitting and dining areas.
More suites at King George, Athens.
4. Xenodocheio Milos
The New York Posts notes, “Milos, the chic and pricey Greek seafood restaurant known for billionaires and celeb guests, has opened its first-ever hotel. Chef Costas Spiliadis — the man who founded Estiatorio Milos in Montreal in 1979 and grew it to seven locations worldwide (several more are in the works) — quietly opened Xenodocheio Milos (from $420; XenodocheioMilos.com) in January. But now as summer approaches, the luxury boutique property in the heart of Athens, is finally ready to shine. Located in the center of the city near the Old Parliament House and Syntagma (Constitution) Square, the 43-room Xenodocheio Milos is in a prime and historical part of town situated in two heritage-listed neoclassical buildings.”
Conde Nast adds, “Spiliadis’ first foray into the hotel business is equally upmarket but unpretentious. Smack bang in the commercial and political heart of Athens, Milos hotel bears all the restaurants’ minimalist hallmarks: lashings of white marble, pale wood, and soft leather. Sleek and airy bedrooms are decorated with minimal fuss but fastidious attention to detail. Some suites have huge terraces overlooking the old Parliament. Facilities are limited to a small wellness and fitness suite, but it’s the food you come for: luscious Greek yoghurt with granola and Kythera honey for breakfast, and dinner a tangle of bitter greens and a whole croaker baked in hand-picked flakes of rock salt, chosen from the extravagant seafood display. The ultimate treat: a private lunch on board Spiliadis’ yacht, Milos at Sea.”
Milos Signature Suite
Designed as an authentic Athenian neoclassical apartment, this expansive suite pays tribute to bespoke luxury and timeless elegance. Enjoy the view of Lycabettus Hill and historical Old Parliament House.
More suites at Xenodocheio Milos.
5. Grand Resort Lagonissi
The Telegraph writes, “You don’t get much more private than that this rambling resort, which has an entire peninsula to itself a mere 40-minute drive from the Acropolis. Impressive facilities include secluded sandy coves, an elegant gym and a spectacularly showy Asian restaurant. Reception staff are helpful, if not always over-friendly (and often a bit gruff over the phone). Cheery club car staff always arrive promptly. The main charm of this sprawling resort are the beaches: a cluster of (mostly sandy) coves on the west side are more popular. Pebble beaches on the east side are much quieter and the water is crystal clear, but facilities are not so great and the sun beds are tatty. The popular sand-strewn Grand Beach with restaurants, a jetty bar and watersports is also open to the public who pay to enter in summer, when it’s likely to be crowded.”
Fodor’s adds, “With its own beaches, pools, restaurants, bars, two tennis courts, and an open-air cinema, all augmenting deluxe accommodations, you may have little need to stray from this seaside paradise. Accommodation stretches cross three areas: the main hotel, deluxe villas (some with their own pools), and cozy seaside bungalows amid the gardens. The decor in all lean toward romantic blues and nautical sea stripes. Staffers don’t blink an eye at requests, be they for a particular type of pillow, a favorite DVD, or the use of the helipad.”
The 4,500 sq.ft. Royal Villa features two master bedrooms with king size beds, a spacious living room with a fireplace and dining table, a fully equipped business corner, a fully fitted kitchen and grill as well as outdoor BBQ facilities. The villa comes with an indoor and an outdoor heated pool, a fully equipped gym and steam bath, a private massage area with a massage-table, two oversized marble lined bathrooms and a guest bath.
More suites and villas at Grand Resort Royal Lagonissi.