If cities were fairy tales, then Athens, for me, is the Ugly Duckling. For all its legendary ancient world charm, the first time I visited, she left me cold. But over the years, I have fallen in love with her newer side, as well as her philosophical stars.
But it wasn’t until I stayed at the St George Lycabettus that I found a hotel fit to recommend wholeheartedly. And the best view in Athens.
Classical luxury in leafy, upmarket Kolonaki with spectacular views of the Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill.
154 rooms in total, some with an eco theme. Most are quiet and understated with a neoclassical feel and discreet art dedicated to writers and poets who once lived in Kolonaki. Rooms have everything you’d expect but they’re not where you want to linger: head to the top floor for that, or onto the balcony with a view across the city to give an overwhelming sense of place.
On the hillside of Lycabettus Hill, one of the highest points in Athens.
Watch the well-heeled of the city walk by as the Kolonaki neighbourhood is one of the more distinguished: think Sloane Square with sunshine and a more relaxed pace. You can walk to central Syntagma Square in 20-30 minutes depending on shoe speed and shoe comfort or, of course, ask the concierge for a taxi into town.
We arrived under cover of darkness after a delayed flight and a lost hotel reservation. So, although we missed the La Suite Lounge, room service in the form of a club sandwich and Greek salad filled the gap til dawn. And, in fact, that description does it an injustice. That salad was excellent: fresh, flavoursome and the perfect welcome to Greece. It’s advisable to make a reservation if you want to dine at La Suite Lounge.
Oooosh. I’m no stranger to a hotel with a view but the sixth floor at the St George Lycabettus somehow defies the laws of physics. Pine so close you could touch it on the one side and a glimmering, shimmering Acropolis on the other. Plus, another side that shows the unmistakeable hillsides of houses stacked like staggered shoeboxes and the hubbub of city life in Greece. And then there is the coast! Who knew Athens was so close to the sea? And the Saronic Islands?
Breakfast is served here and Sunday morning sees a fabulous family brunch take place, too. The restaurant is open to non-hotel residents but it’s a good idea to book in advance.
The hotel has a 30 seat mini-cinema and art exhibitions in the basement. Oh, and Daniel Day Lewis and Juliette Binoche have dined on the Grand Balcon.
Ach, but we barely got anything done, the staff were so keen to cuddle and chat to Rosa! This was our first exposure to the legendary love of children in Greece and it set a high bar for the rest of the trip. We felt like celebrities (or, rather, part of Rosa’s entourage) and the staff couldn’t have been nicer: sterilising bottles, making up a cot, handing out a goody bag at the family morning brunch… As is often the case, the room was a bit of a squeeze with the cot in as well but that’s about the only kind of criticism I can think of!
Great base for a quieter stay in Athens yet still in reach of the main sights. Stunning views to enjoy as a hotel guest or as a visiting diner.Book Now
Disclosure: We paid a reduced rate to stay at the St George Lycabettus for review purposes at the start of our Big Greek Road Hop, a driving holiday through the Peloponnese. More on that later, so do subscribe to stay up to date! But, as ever, as always, we kept the right to write what we like.
Abigail King is an award-winning writer and author who swapped a successful career as a hospital doctor for a life on the road. With over 60 countries under her belt, she's worked for Lonely Planet, the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and more. She is passionate about sustainable tourism and was invited to speak on the subject at the EU-China High Level summit at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.Here she writes about food, travel and history and she invites you to pull up a chair and relax. Let's travel more and think more. Welcome!
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