8 Amazing Places to Stay In Athens
Athens is the epitome of an idyllic beachside city break, even for the most discerning of travellers. The city is brimming with awe-inspiring architectural wonders from lost civilizations connected by quaint pedestrian promenades just waiting to be explored. Athens is also home to countless five-star luxury hotels, swanky spas, designer shopping, award-winning wining and dining and a plethora of vibrant rooftop bars where you can catch the sunset over the milky marble skyline. An impressive backdrop where ancient and contemporary meets, with the stunning Acropolis viewable from every angle.
And owing to its prime location on the Attica peninsula, the dazzling vistas of the Aegean Sea are never far away. The sun-splashed Athens Riviera stretches all the way from Piraeus to Sounio in the south, dotted with upscale resorts and boutique hideaways making for a luxurious beach sojourn filled with island charm.
Looking for a place to stay on the Athenian Riviera? Read more about my favourite place to stay on the Athenian Riviera, the gorgeous boutique hotel The Margi—a member of the prestigious Small Luxury Hotels of the World—located in Vouliagmeni.
A stay in the Syntagma neighbourhood places you right in the heart of the city, which is centred around Syntagma Square within walking distance to many of the city’s top attractions. Equip yourself with a refreshing freddo (the Greek’s beloved take on iced coffee) from one of the many specialty coffee shops and amble around the historical square, which houses the Parliament building and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Right next to it lies the sprawling green oasis that is the National Garden providing a welcome shaded respite from the sun.
The Syntagma Square is also home to the iconic Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel. The elegant neoclassical building exudes old world glamour, with majestic views of the Acropolis, and is arguably one of the best hotels in Athens.
Adjacent to Syntagma lies the picturesque Plaka, right underneath the Acropolis with Mount Lycabettus in the distance, and you would be forgiven for thinking you had suddenly stumbled upon a tranquil fishing village in the midst of Athens here. It is a neighbourhood steeped in history and old-world charm, with family-run tavernas, cafés and boutiques cropping up along winding cobbled streets with bougainvillea.
If you are staying in Plaka, the luxurious Electra Palace with its rooftop pool and uninterrupted views makes a fine choice.
The charming Monastiraki is famous for its ample shopping opportunities and bustling weekend flea market where you can bargain for authentic (and less authentic) jewellery, artisanal handicraft, books, trinkets, and everything in between. It is also known for its historical square, which is a reminder of the city’s tumultuous past, with an Orthodox Church on one side, and an Ottoman Mosque on the other. And if you are looking to sample some authentic local delicacies, Monastiraki offers a great selection of restaurants and eateries.
Here you will find the stylish neo-modernist Perianth Hotel, a design feat housed in a 1930s building, which adds an air of chic to your stay.
Next to Plaka lies the small, colourful Koukaki neighbourhood under the lush foliage of trees. Lovingly known as Little Paris until the 1980s, the eclectic Koukaki is a quieter urban jungle of sorts with plenty of hip local cafés and restaurants reminiscent of times past, which has been crowned one of “coolest neighbourhoods in the world” by US Vogue.
And at the beginning of central Makrygianni Street lies Coco-mat Athens BC, a sophisticated hotel boasting a seasonal rooftop pool overlooking the Acropolis Museum.
Kolonaki, in comparison, is an upscale residential neighbourhood situated on a hill. Here you will find high-end boutiques like Hermès and Gucci along the two main shopping streets, which are interspersed with trendy bars and restaurants not seldom alive with jazz, along with galleries and museums.
There are many great hotels to choose from in the area, including the lifestyle hotel St George Lycabettus, which offers a boutique stay amidst the pine-speckled slopes of Lycabettus Hill.
The tiny Psirri district is wedged right in the historic triangle, bordering on Monastiraki. It offers a flurry of bars, clubs, cafés and delectable restaurants juxtaposed with graffitied shopfronts, and is the city’s designated nightlife hub. Marvel at the street art and take in the whimsical atmosphere over at Pittaki Street, which is adorned with a lamp ceiling.
The Editor Athens hotel bids minimalistic elegance about 300 metres from Monastiraki Square, and sits just on the fringe of Psirri.
When it is time to leave the urban sprawl behind, the affluent Glyfada on Athens Riviera is a mere 20-minute Uber ride away. The pretty whitewashed coastal town is shaded by palm and pine trees and offers a relaxing vacay atmosphere filled with boutiques and cafés, coupled with a buzzing culinary scene and trendy bars serving innovative craft cocktails.
The intimate Glyfada Riviera Hotel and Brazil Suites Hotel Apartments both combine comfort with convenience and contemporary amenities, each making for a great base during your stay.
Something of the Greek counterpart to Cannes, the luxe resort town of Vouliagmeni is equally known for its beaches and upmarket beach clubs, as for its therapeutic emerald green lake (which has become a wellness destination on its own.) Think perfectly manicured pathways fringed with palm trees and marigold overlooking the yacht marina, along with designer shopping and fine dining to your heart’s content. Vouliagmeni also houses the iconic Astir Beach, once the favourite summer haunt of celebrities such as Bridget Bardot and Jackie Onassis, which is heralded as the finest beach in Athens. Here you can pamper yourself with a massage in a private cabana and enjoy all-day VIP treatment.
There is a selection of first class hotels to choose from here, although my favourite by far is The Margi, a heavenly five-star retreat which is set against a backdrop of pine trees overlooking the sea. The main focal point is the luxe pool area, swathed in olive trees and bougainvillea, with the allure of Astir Beach only a short stroll away. Read more…
With all of this taken into account, why would anyone want to leave Athens in favour of the islands ever? The good things in life are available in spades right here.