January 11, 2023
Tablet is your source for discovering the world’s most exciting boutique hotels — places where you’ll find a memorable experience, not just a room for the night. For over twenty years we’ve scoured the earth, evaluating hotels for every taste and budget, creating a hand-picked selection that’s proven and unforgettable. Now, we’re the official hotel selection of the legendary MICHELIN Guide.
Here are the top boutique hotels in Athens, Greece:
Athens has some impressive hotels, but the St. George Lycabettus stands above them all — at least literally it does, from its rather spectacular vantage point halfway up Lycabettus Hill, with a view straight across at the Acropolis (and over most of the rest of the city besides). This kind of real estate is obviously highly desirable — the neighborhood is the ritzy enclave of Kolonaki, where most of the city’s best museums and boutiques are located.
So the crowd here is upscale to match, and the hotel, naturally, is suitably luxurious as well. Styles vary in theme from floor to floor, but all 154 rooms and suites are unapologetically posh, with hardwood floors, rich fabrics, and the kind of clean lines that make the most of their allotted space. Many, especially corner suites, are almost worth it for the views alone — all that boutique-hotel stuff is just a welcome bonus.
One look and it’s obvious that Semiramis is a radical departure from the norm: bold swathes of day-glo color set it immediately apart from the icy cool of most modern boutique hotels, not to mention the monochrome white of the typical Greek luxury hotel. Puzzling, unless you happen to follow contemporary industrial design, in which case two words explain it all: Karim Rashid.
He’s the prince of plastic, the Sultan of sensory overload, maybe Baron von Blobject if you’re inclined to take the alliteration a little too far; his designs strive toward a futuristic fusion of the organic and the high-tech, all rendered in colors that move otherwise cool-headed journalists to metaphors about psychotropic drugs. Ironically, he himself dresses entirely and exclusively in ascetic white, the implications of which are probably beyond the scope of this review and frankly beyond the interest of most prospective Semiramis hotel guests.
When you think of a Greek seaside getaway it’s only natural to think of the Aegean islands. But lately there’s beachfront bliss to be had around the capital as well. This is Vouliagmeni, the heart of the new Athenian Riviera, a newly upscale seaside district just south of Athens proper. And it’s home to, among others, The Margi, an 88-room hotel that’s as clear an exemplar of the luxury-boutique genre as you’re likely to find on these shores or any other.
The rooms and suites are somewhat conservative in their stylishness — antique furnishings and artworks attempt to draw you into their history rather than dazzle you with their modernity. They don’t skimp on the luxury, however; every room and suite is equipped with a modern entertainment center, a private balcony or patio, and a bathroom stocked with the obligatory (in these parts, anyway) Korres bath products.
Athens was great, Athens was grand, Athens was the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy. AthensWas, as it happens, is also the name of a sleek new hotel a stone’s throw from the Acropolis. It’s a slightly confusing play on words, but the name produces the desired effect: it makes you think about the relationship between the ancient city’s past and present, and wonder where exactly on that continuum the hotel places itself.
It’s impossible, or at least inadvisable, to open a boutique hotel in Athens — in the heart of one of the most important historic centers of Europe — without somehow grounding it within the city’s historical and cultural landscape. But the designers of AthensWas have gone about the task in a particularly clever way. The hotel isn’t a recreation of ancient days, nor a modern hotel with a few framed black and white photos of the Parthenon. Instead, its an homage to the city’s swinging Sixties.
How’s that for a hotel that gets right to the point? As of 2011 the New Hotel is literally new, but something tells us it’ll still be looking fresh even after the name has abandoned its literal meaning for a more figurative one. And the key, we suspect, is that it’s a hotel with an aesthetic point of view — rather than the off-the-shelf minimalism that recently dominated the boutique hotel world, owner Dakis Jouannou went for something a little bit bolder.
Before it was the New Hotel, you see, it was the Olympic Palace, a fairly representative bit of vaguely utopian mid-20th-century modernism. As it was showing its age, Jouannou elected to gut it — but rather than send its contents to the junkyard, he hired a pair of genius Brazilian interior architects, Fernando and Humberto Campana, to make a new hotel from the pieces of the old. Everything went back in; every door, every beam, every piece of stone, and the result is salvage like you’ve never seen it before.