I’m warmly greeted at reception. Despite it being a design hotel, all the staff are very pleasant, down-to-earth and helpful.
This was previously an apartment block, and it slots neatly into the surrounding urban fabric, which mostly comprises smart 1970s blocks rising to eight storeys. This small new hotel is situated on the mostly pedestrianised Dionysiou Areogagiatou Street, which is filled with cafes and restaurants, and is a few hundred metres away from the Acropolis Museum and the Acropolis itself. The Plaka neighbourhood begins across the road, and the Temple of Zeus is also nearby. It’s an attractive area that feels safe.
The hotel, which is a member of the Design Hotels group, only has 21 rooms, so has an air of glossy exclusivity. Spaces are slick and good-looking, with attention to detail and quality. There’s a wonderful rooftop terrace restaurant with a view of the Acropolis, which is popular with guests and locals. Most of the other guests seem to be international travellers from the United States and Europe.
My 32-square-metre superior deluxe room is on the fifth floor, with a private balcony overlooking the street. I can also see the Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill. Double glazing keeps out background noise. Inside, the grey-blue room is compact and comfortable, with a feeling of privacy, and finished in walnut wood. There’s wardrobe space, a coffee area, a comfortable Treca mattress, a desk and a slick bathroom (which doesn’t have a bath, but does have a good rain shower). Blackout curtains and foam pillows do their jobs.
Genuine and warm, without being snappy.
The breakfast is a delicious choice of prepared-to-order items, such as Greek yogurt with honey and nuts, toast and a selection of hot items. Tea and coffee – and their receptacles – are lovely. I have dinner at Modern restaurant on the seventh floor. It’s a beautiful setting, but the menu is rather limited and on the expensive side for Athens, although the portions are large and it’s worth it for the view. I enjoy the sea bass carpaccio (€16 [Dh65]), which is delicately sliced, with a citrus fruit zest and lemon-mango condiment. The shellfish risotto with clams and scallops (€22 [Dh89]) is rich and satisfying; both dishes are beautifully presented.
The in-room massage I book through the hotel (€65 for an hour) is excellent. I love the attention to detail in the hotel, and the feeling that my room is a private studio apartment and a peaceful retreat from a busy city.
On my first night, I’m woken by guests from a neighbouring room, who slam their door when returning late, then move furniture around on their balcony. The Wi-Fi is surprisingly slow, and the rooftop restaurant has no bathroom, meaning that you have to go down in the lift to the basement – or a lot of stairs – to use one there.
A great base in Athens.
The bottom line
Double rooms at AthensWas (www.athenswas.gr) cost from €175 (Dh710) per night, including taxes and breakfast.
Source: art & life