I've just returned from a long weekend in Athens, Greece where I had a fantastic time exploring this ancient and buzzing city full of all sorts of contemporary charm. In fact, I've been raving about the trip almost non-stop since my return flight arrived back home a few days ago. Much of what made my visit to Athens such a treat was that I lucked out by scoring a great room in a smartly situated hotel. Staying in the right place is so often key to making the most of any city break, especially when you're hoping to see and do as much as possible in only a few days like I was attempting to do during my few days in Athens.
“Full of art, glamour and genuine hospitality,” Grecotel Pallas Athena is a luxury boutique hotel that's within walking distance of most attractions worth checking out while in Athens: museums, the Acropolis, street markets – you name it! And it's just as commendable for what's on the inside too. A number of the rooms feature spacious balconies with excellent views of the city. Many of the rooms are part of the hotel's “Art Collection” as well and are themed with rather quirky wall paintings and murals.
My room had these weird but very cute little cartoon characters painted on the walls and the word “RELAX” all over the place in big pink puffy letters. Strange – but I liked it. There are some family friendly rooms with Smurfs and superheroes as well. Aside from the fun stuff on the walls, I'm pleased to report the bed and the shower (the two most important aspects to a hotel room in my opinion) were, respectively, super comfy and full of pressure.
Apparently the hotel has only been open since the beginning of the year (before that it was known as the BabyGrand hotel). So it's still got that brand new squeaky clean feel to it and the promise of more cool features in the works, including a rooftop bar to open soon.
There was free WiFi throughout the hotel (good strong signal too) and members of staff were as friendly and helpful as anywhere I've ever stayed.
Here's the scoop on three particularly awesome aspects of my stay at the Pallas Athena that made it such an easy place for me to recommend to you:
Whether engaging in some casual conversation with the locals at one of Athens' many chilled out bars or touring archaic ruins, you know you're in the heart of a city that's been vibrant and thriving for ages. These days, Athens is a hub – if not the hub – for an amazing street art scene. I had no idea there was so much street art in Athens. It's ubiquitous – with much of it by internationally recognized artists and of a scale, quantity and quality you're not likely to see just anywhere in the world.
I went on two guided tours while there. One, a general get to know the city tour with “tailor-made travel experience providers” at AthensInsiders. The other, a very thorough and street art specific urban trek with a guide from “better way to travel” experts at Dopios. I enjoyed and can recommend both. The Pallas Athena was an ideal place to start and end both tours too.
To the Beach!
Although the hotel is located in the heart of “downtown” Athens (right next to the city hall), guests can arrange to visit one of its 16 cabanas at a private stretch of beach on the Athens Riviera. The cabanas are at Yabanaki Beach, which is about 30 minutes or so from the city centre.
As far as I could tell during my lazy afternoon lounging at Yabanaki, it's an ideal spot for just that! The services, activities and amenities offered by the private club were plentiful and to a high standard.
Time to Eat!
Maybe what I thought was most exceptional about the hotel was its restaurant. Offering a gourmet take on Greek cuisine with a significant number of ingredients sourced from Agreco Farm on the island of Crete, everything I ate there was delicious. Breakfast – a blend of typical hotel fare and traditional Greek dishes – was a really nice way to start the day and well worth waking up for.
Find out more about the hotel grecotelpallasathena.com or book it through OneTravel.com now.
Photos courtesy of Grecotel Pallas Athena.
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