Editor’s picks • Top 3 hotels in Athens
Budget: Jason Inn
The hotel’s structure may be unimpressive and the street it stands on nondescript, but the Jason Inn borders happening Thissio and Psyrri, with good access to the disctricts’ excellent restaurants and bars. It’s also handy for the ancient sites and the old central market. With standard-issue but pleasant rooms, an inviting rooftop garden restaurant and staff who get travellers, the Jason Inn is good value for money.
Jason Inn 12 Agion Asomaton, 10553 Psyrri. +30 210 325 1106. Doubles from €72 per night.
Mid-range: New Hotel
Neatly triangulated between the stately bustle of Syntagma Square, the cobbled tourist arteries of Plaka and the shady oasis of the National Gardens, New Hotel is the ideal eyrie from which to swoop and explore the ancient heart of the city. Get a room on the fifth or sixth floor, and you’ll also be treated to balcony views of the Acropolis, the dramatic pointiness of Mount Lycabettus, the elaborately medieval ‘Russian church’ over the road and/or, depending on height and line-of-sight, the Temple of Olympian Zeus. And the restaurant on the top floor gives you a gods’-eye perspective on Athens at night you’ll struggle to find anywhere else (the food is decent, though you do pay for that panorama).
Views on the inside are’t bad either. The hotel opened in 2011 (so the ‘New’ monicker is probably good until 2020) to much design-trade fanfare, with carpentry offcuts where the wallpaper should be and diverting room interiors torn from Euclid’s ‘Geometry: Plan B’ scrapbook. The overall effect is as boutique as boutique can be – but with any hints at pretentiousness breezed away by the cheeky atmos and extremely hospitable staff. (Apart from the anarcho-humanist slogans that browbeat you from a dot-matrix display over breakfast: ‘The breakdown comes when you lose control and you want the release of bloodbath.’ Actually, just a grapefruit juice, please.)
New Hotel 16 Filellinon Street, 10557 Syntagma Square. +30 210 3273000. Doubles from €131 per night.
Quintessentially Athens: Semiramis
An institution among locals of a certain sensibility, the Semiramis exists far, far away from the Athens of the popular imagination in every sense. First, it’s at a respectable physical distance from the hoi polloi of the polis, in the well-appointed northern suburb of Kifissia, some seven miles from central Athens. The leafy neighbourhood is well worth a loiter, graced with some of the best upscale shopping and smartest food spots in Athens – while on weekend evenings it can get lively till late with young, fashionable Athenians in full-on peacock mode.
Secondly, created by American design superstar Karim Rashid, the Semiramis is pretty much the anti-Acropolis. Its brazen colour scheme of hot pink-vs-the-rest-of-the-spectrum is a glorification of all things modern and minimal – and the theme is followed all the way down to the luminous art in the rooms (which comes with its own on/off switch), unsettling glass elevator and customisable digital do-not-disturb signs.
Among the Spencer Tunick prints and perky pop-art murals, arguably the most fascinating piece in the hotel’s impressive collection of contemporary art is the pool; it’s shaped like cell-division in action and swimming in it you can’t help but feel like you’re fertilising something. Bright, camp and definitely erring on the naughty side, the Semiramis a perfect playpen for hot creatives and transnational beautiful people – well represented among the guests – and a whole lot of fun for the rest of us.
Semiramis 48 Charilaou Trikoupi Street, 14562 Kefalari, Kifissia. +30 210 6284400. Doubles from €100 per night.