Hotel Review: Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens

For opulent luxury, history, incredible views and a perfect location, Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens is hard to beat. Loved by Hollywood stars and royalty for decades, it has won numerous awards and truly is one of the city’s most loved treasures.

When searching for a 5 star hotel to stay in prior to a cruise on another acclaimed treasure – Star Clipper, this was a top choice. With breathtaking views of the fabled Acropolis, regal Syntagma Square and the Parliament, Lycabettus Hill and the original Olympic Stadium no other hotel can compete in providing such an unrivaled perspective of Athens’ mythical history.

Being located right in the heart of the city since it was built in 1874, it’s within easy walking distance of exclusive shopping areas and museums and if you’re feeling particularly energetic and the weather isn’t quite as hot as it was when we visited, you can walk to the Acropolis too – although it is an uphill jaunt for most of the way. Local taxis are plentiful and cheap though. We loved the beautiful park within just five minutes away, planted with blissfully fragrant avenues of orange trees providing much needed shade and a delightful place to picnic and read.

Superb location aside, the hotel’s interior is a feast for the eyes and if you appreciate acres of gold, florals, antiques and art you will be in heaven. As the name states it really is rather grand. Given that within the walls of Hotel Grande Bretagne history is unveiled through myriads of antiques and art masterpieces, the historic landmark even offers guests a “museum tour”, every Thursday between 17:00 – 18:00, upon request.

In 2003, with an investment of 82 million euro, the hotel underwent a massive restoration and emerged as a state-of-the-art, five-star reincarnation of its former glory that continues to delight its guests with legendary hospitality and iconic style. The 320 rooms and suites seamlessly marry charming old-world elegance with state-of-the-art facilities.

Elegantly appointed and entirely individual, the 320 guest rooms and suites at Hotel Grande Bretagne provide refined living in the heart of Athens. Sumptuous fabrics, original artworks, museum-quality antiques and classic architectural features combine with modern technology to present accommodation that embraces the historic legacy of this dynamic city. Each guest room and suite is furnished with The Luxury Collection Bed allowing for restorative sleep to enrich the soul. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer an abundance of natural light and captivating views across Acropolis Hill and Syntagma Square, while opulent en-suite bathrooms provide prime opportunity for pampering. All rooms and suites come with a well-stocked refreshment centre, bottles of water and nightly turndown, as well as flat screen televisions and access to high speed Wi-Fi. Personalized 24-hour Butler Service and expedited check-in is offered to all 56 suites, alongside guest rooms located on the sixth and seven floors.

To celebrate very special occasions, a stay in The Royal Suite is a must. This one-bedroom, two-bathroom suite is spread over 400 square meters, with many windows providing matchless views of the city, Syntagma Square, the Acropolis, the Parliament and Lycabettus Hill.

All rooms are beautifully presented though and our Deluxe Twin Guest Room with City View also looked out to some of these wonders. The rooms are appointed with The Luxury Collection Twin Beds, dressed in the highest quality Frette linen and topped with a selection of plump pillows. We appreciated the fact that each spacious guest room is individually furnished with hand-picked antiques and original artworks. A muted colour palette of cream and taupe, highlighted original features with gold accents and historic flourishes. Some have a balcony too where you can enjoy a coffee and watch the world pass by.

The marble en-suite bathrooms are like stepping back in time to a world of mirrors, marble and gold. Spacious and featuring a large rainfall shower, double basins and usefully illuminated vanity mirror, they come with plush cotton bathrobes, slippers and Gilchrist & Soames bath products.

With so much to see and do here, lovely as the rooms are, a visit to the hotel’s other delights is a must. We made full use of the large rooftop pool and bar area – again with the most incredible views. And headed to the beautiful spa to relax in the stunning pool there too.

Up on the top of the hotel is the acclaimed and award-winning Roof Garden Restaurant, offering the finest Mediterranean cuisine. The talented Executive Chef Asterios Koustoudis and highly experienced team produce dish after wonderful dish. Our meals were excellent – fresh seafood, indulgent desserts and an impressive choice of fine wines. You can forgive yourself for being distracted from the food though, by the view from your table of the Acropolis flood lit at night – quite a sight to behold. Do see if you can book a table outside close to the edge for the best vantage point and head up an hour early to enjoy the excellent bar there which shares these incredible views.

There are a number of other places to dine too – including the Winter Garden which is known as one of the city’s most elegant and enchanting havens for a European breakfast, light lunch, afternoon tea or dinner accompanied by live piano music. And, not forgetting the Pool Bar for authentic Greek cuisine, light snacks and excellent cocktails.

A stay at the Grande Bretagne isn’t complete until you’ve experienced the hotel’s beautiful award-winning spa. Here you can enjoy the gorgeous tranquil indoor pool area designed to evoke the classic sensations of the baths of ancient Rome, plus a wide range of restorative treatments and a workout in the gym.

Whether you are planning a longer city stay, or like us, a quick 2 day stop off before embarking on a cruise, this elegant and historic hotel is a perfect choice.

For further information: Visit the website

By Lisa Curtiss

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