Written by Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan
The King George is one of the only two places to stay when you are in Athens, the second is it’s brother property right next door, the Grand Bretagne.
As the name suggests, the King George is a former royal residence. Standing in the heart of Athens, the views across to the Acropolis will be stamped in your memory forever. Its long luxurious history boasts guests such as Marilyn Monroe, Madonna, Frank Sinatra and Maria Callas.
With guests like that it’s no wonder its location is just five minutes from the bustling nightlife of Plaka and Agia Irinis’s Square. Then of course there are the high end shopping, the Monastiraki flea market , the national landmarks and the National Gardens.
Once inside you are surrounded by an opulent lobby made of marble, with trimmings of mahogany, velvet and gold. There are antique crystal lamps and elegant antique furniture.
The elegance continues through into the rooms, each which has a balcony overlooking Syntagma Square, the Parliament building and the Parthenon.
Some rooms look on to the exclusive Voukourestiou pedestrian walkway on the other side of the hotel. Each room is unique with handcrafted furniture, antique desks and upholstery of raw silk.
You’ll feel like a Greek God surrounded by all this marble. The bathroom is marble with a lavish bath and offers olive oil based toiletries. All gorgeous but the jewel is the penthouse suite where you can splash around in your own infinity pool looking out over the Acropolis.
If you want action head to Tudor Hall Restaurant on the seventh floor with its amazing views and modern Greek cuisine. Dishes include moussaka, smoked eggplant with lemon, garlic and parsley and Santorini Salad with katiki domokou cheese, wild fresh oregano and cherry tomatoes. The breakfast buffet too offers some Greek classics such as sweet cheese pies, feta and spinach pies, seasonal fruits and freshly baked breads.
After breakfast, head to the spa at the Grand Bretagne. Guests of the King George are welcome to use this spa along with the Grand Bretagne’s indoor pool. The Spa is an experience in itself and a must for a weary traveller with its Balinese, Ayurvedic, Swedish styles of massage and more.
The King George’s brother, the Grande Bretagne is no stranger to celebrity. Its beds have been slept on by Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor, Sting, Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren, Bing Crosby, Laurence Olivier, Henry Fonda, Umberto Eco and many more. Its location is incredible as well, set in Syntagma Square across from Greece’s parliament. It has also just established its name on the Conde Nast Traveller Gold 2018 list – the only Greek hotel to be included.
The Grande Bretagne opened in 1874, thus one of the most ancient of Athens’ hotels. Today it welcomes guests into a huge marble lobby with Parthenon style pillars and swanky fittings.
The opulence is found from toe to head, topping off with a turquoise rooftop pool with its own bar and restaurant with the most amazing views over Athens.
The GM Roof garden offers an incredible selection for breakfast from the traditional sweet cheese, spinach and custard pies through to scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, and of course Greek yoghurt.
The hotel offers several other places to dine from the Winter Garden for high tea with its palms, stained glass ceiling, the Alexander Bar for whiskey and cognac with its 18thcentury tapestry, the Cigar Lounge and the Wine library with a cellar of over 3500 wines.
There are 320 rooms in this incredible abode and they’re divided into Classic, Deluxe, Suites and of course the Presidential and the Royal Suite.
It’s not just a hotel for adults with little ones delighting in colouring books when they arrive. There are interconnecting rooms and cots at no extra charge. Professional baby sitters are available on request and there is a wonderful kid’s menu with room service coming at a 50 percent discount.
This action packed capital is wonderful to visit all year round but best times are April and mid October as summer can hit over forty degrees Celsius.
Greece Med Travel Centre are the specialists in Greece with a large amount of day tours and longer tours on offer. Two tours that are perfect to do from the King George and the Grand Bretagne are the Athens on foot tour. This begins at Syntagma Square and visits Dionyssou Aregopageitou and on to Acropolis Hill for great views over the city.
There are other walking tours which offer a glance into the secrets of Athens by local guides.
These include byzantine churches, the white washed streets of Anafiotika and the crowded kafeneios packed with locals. Return to your hotel or visit a tavern for a cooking lesson, to break a plate or watch a Greek dance.
Nicole Lenoir-Jourdan was a guest of the Grande Bretagne and the King George and assisted by Greece & Mediterranean Travel Centre.