Athens Hotels: The Big Boom
Nothing says “green shoot” quite so convincingly as the wave of foreign investment currently changing the face of Athens’ luxury hotel landscape. With visitor numbers to the capital continuing to confound all crisis-logic, the appetite for quality inner-city accommodation has soared.Some of the world’s biggest hoteliers have answered the call, channeling millions into prime new developments (and the local economy), and creating a welcome new breed of urban bolthole in the downtown precinct surrounding Syntagma Square and Athens’ famous archeological sites. As Amanda Dardanis introduces the best of the new crop of luxury lodgings, we say there’s never been a better time to indulge in a city sleepover!
Fifteen million euros is the magic sum of money it took to transform this former Education Ministry HQ into the gleaming new five-star, 216-room Electra Metropolis, which opened mid-2016 on central Mitropoleos. Joining its landmark Athenian siblings – Electra Hotel and Electra Palace – this discreetly luxurious property’s best selling points are: its utterly-urban location near Syntagma Square; the wonderfully-tactile hardwood floors; a standout spa and fitness center (including hamam bath and indoor-outdoor pools); and the Metropolis Roof Garden restaurant with obligatory knock-out views of The Rock and beyond. Best billed as having a “retro chic aesthetic”, the Electra Metropolis also boasts a striking skylight atrium in the lobby to brighten even the dullest of Athenian days. (We’re also tickled by the fun fact that the open rooftop pool sits exactly on top of the former Education Minister’s office!)
Mitropoleos 15, Athens, www.electrahotels.gr
The Wyndham Grand
The 5-star Wyndham Grand Hotel on Karaiskaki Square (just west of Omonia), opened its luxe doors in December 2016. This is the mighty US-based chain’s first hotel outing in the Greek capital and more than €5 million was reportedly spent on renovating the existing downtown premises (formerly the Athens Imperial hotel) to create 276 luxury and energy-efficient rooms that are forecast to host some 200,000 guests annually. Business travellers are wooed by the 2,500 square meters of conference and events space supported by multiple restaurants, bars, a gym, (and the promise of super-speedy Wi Fi). As for the rest of us? We’ll be heading straight for the 450 square meter rooftop pool terrace with its waterfall and stunning 360 degree Athenian panorama. Oh, and the spa.
Megalou Alexandrou 2, Metaxourgio, www.wyndhamhotels.com
The newest member of the effortlessly chic Coco-Mat hotel family put out its welcome mat (seagrass naturally!) earlier this year in a renovated 1935 structure in upscale Kolonaki. The property joins the Greek luxury bedding company’s existing Nafsika Hotel in Kifissia and has 39 rooms and suites, as well as a (terribly tempting) Coco-Mat store in the lobby which you must pass through to access Reception. Less than a year old, the Kolonaki hotel has already been named as a finalist in the European Hotel Design Awards for 2016, for its adaptive re-use of its premises.
Characteristic curves, staircase and frames have been preserved throughout, with sliding cedar panels allowing visitors to regulate sunlight. Guests also encounter a fresh spin on the hotel concept with an “honesty kitchen” where customers can help themselves around the clock to drinks and snacks. And in a stellar display of Greek “filoxenia”, the hotel additionally offers potential Coco-Mat customers a free night’s stay, no strings attached, in one of their rooms in order to “sleep test” the mattress that they’ve set their sights on.
Patriarchou Ioakeim 36, Kolonaki, www.coco-mat-hotels.com
Pi Athens Suites
A new micro luxury hotel that aspires to deliver the amenities of a big hotel along with the relaxed personality of a boutique bolthole, in the very handy location of a quiet residential street, 50 metres from the Kallimarmaro (Panathenaic Stadium).
PI Athens Suites was carved from the premises of a former IT company by entrepreneur Socrates Gabriel and comprises just 6 suites, many of them on individual floors, with an Acropolis view.
There’s a bijou urban garden planted with olive and almond trees to escape city fumes, a similarly-compact roof retreat overlooking the Acropolis and the National Gardens, and an arty-and-hospitable mood prevailing throughout. Private valet parking in the midst of the downtown crush is another drawcard.
Fokianou 4, Athina, www.piathens.com
A little further out, the 94-room Athens Avenue, housed in an old Millennium Bank Building on humming Syngrou, joins the city’s hotel stock. All the rooms sport a soothing décor of earthy ochres, golds and moss, along with super-comfy beds, making this modern new four-star property a great jumping off point for both city and Athens Riviera jaunts – plus the new Stavros Niarchos Cultural Centre right nearby.
Andrea Syngrou 182, Kallithea, www.athensavenuehotel.gr