For our 20th anniversary my husband and I took a trip that included Athens, and I compared and compared hotels trying to decide which looked (from their online presence) to be a good bet. We went with Athens Gate Hotel, and I was very happy with the choice.
There are a few things that made it work really well for us:
1. Location Location Location. Athens Gate is on the southern edge of the Plaka, which is the ancient part of Athens, containing many of the ruins, winding narrow streets lined with shops and restaurants, edged to the north by Ermou street with lots of larger store shopping and Syntagma Square across from parliament with the changing of the guard, and to the west bordered by the Acropolis, to the East by the National Garden. This is a very walkable area that is smaller (to me being from the US) than I expected from looking at maps. I was able to stroll from our hotel, through Plaka, up to Ermou, do a little shopping, over to Syntagma, and back down through Plaka to be back in the hotel by lunch to meet my husband.
2. The Views – This is related to #1, but deserves it’s own place on the list. The front of Athens gate overlooks the Temple of Olympus Zeus, with Lycabettus Hill to your left (north), both lit up nicely at night. The rooms on the back of the hotel have (if you are not on the lowest floors) view of the Acropolis which is, of course, beautifully lit up at night, and on clear days you can see all the way to the sea with some islands in the hazy distance to the south west. Unfortunately you cannot ensure whether you will get a view of one side or the other, but you can request it and hope for the best.
Click on thumbnails of photos for larger view:
3. Rooms – When we made our reservation we sprung for the Executive Room because we wanted a nice big terrace. All Executive rooms are on the 7th floor, just below the rooftop restaurant. So while we couldn’t guarantee Acropolis or Olympus Zeus view, we knew we would have a nice view of one of them and an over-sized terrace to sit on and relax in the evening with a glass of wine. Superior rooms have a smaller balcony and still a view of either Olympus Zeus or Acropolis. Rooms below that you will not have the views, and be too low to see much but the neighboring buildings. The rooms are modern with good air conditioning (though it does turn off when you leave the room, it only takes a few minutes to cool back down when you return) with surprisingly spacious bathrooms by European standards. One quirk here (as in many hotels we stayed in) was limited outlets for electronics. Hubby travels with a short power-strip and that served us well.
Sidenote: For reasons that were never explained, we were given a free upgrade to the Suite. If you have the means, I highly recommend it. We had a separate living area and bedroom, separate soaking tub and shower. But the big thing was our terrace – which was probably equal to or more than the area of our room. Our living area opened onto the terrace in front of the hotel with a view of Olympus Zeus, our bedroom opened to the back with a view of the Acropolis, and the terrace wrapped around the north side of the building connecting the two. It was enormous, and the small table and two chairs plus the two outdoor sofas with coffee table were dwarfed. And the views were spectacular. We went out for a short time each evening to soak it in, and twice lounged there for a good length of time and took about a million pictures.
Click on images for larger view and descriptions:
4. Athens Gate Restaurant – It is rooftop and glassed in, so views are excellent. The food was very good and the service was wonderful. By the second day our server knew us and greeted us by name, remembered what we had on previous visit, and commented if he hadn’t seen us the day before. Breakfast is included on a number (all?) of room plans, and it is a pretty good breakfast bar with good variety. Not a huge number of choices, but plenty to keep you happy and get you started on the day. Dinner was very good. We had the Salmon and Grilled Chicken which were both very good. I had the Fresh Penne with tomatoes one night that I found a bit bland but fine. But really, you have to have the Ribeye and traditional fried potatoes with tomato chutney. Generally we are not tomato chutney fans – especially with onions and unidentifiable other vegetables stewed in, but oh-my-goodness… it was SO good. I don’t know what manner of magic it was, but if you take a bite with the Ribeye, a little chutney and a potato, it is just an amazing combination. We went back a second time just to have that again before we left.
Click on the images for dish description and cost:
5. Staff – the staff was very helpful, and even understanding when I somehow opened my terrace door incorrectly and couldn’t get it closed again. They were full of smiles, happy to repeat themselves for me (hearing impaired and accents are a tough combination), and responsive. Besides that they would let you enjoy your vacation without interruption. A good balance in my book.
6. Quirks of European hotels – if you have not been to European hotels much, this is where I tell you that for the most part this is just the way it is in all the hotels. Get used to it. First, the exterior is generally not as opulent and impressive as American. The lobby areas are smaller and usually partitioned in ways we aren’t used to. The elevators are small. SMALL. If you are on the elevator with 3 other people you all will be CLOSE FRIENDS by the time you reach your floor. The showers all leak out into the bathroom, even if there is any seeming attempt to have a door closure which is not guaranteed (there is at the Athens Gate, but it did leak). That is why all the bathroom floors are tile and there is a drain in the middle of the room. These things are what they are in Europe, it’s the way it works, and they are perfectly happy with it, thank you very much. In some ways we have to check our American expectations at the door, and I’m always fine with that. I find it to all have more character.
All in all, I would definitely return to Athens Gate – even if we didn’t get the free upgrade to the suite. The location was extremely convenient, great views, good food (with one exceedingly delicious exception), and sufficiently modern and sleek for this somewhat spoiled american.
Athens Gate website is <<HERE>>
I also placed this review on Trip Advisor: