Hotel insider: New Hotel, Athens, Greece

Checking in to the New Hotel in Athens, a member of Design Hotels.

A room at the New Hotel in Athens, Greece. Courtesy Yes! Hotels Group
Powered by automated translation

The welcome

Well-pitched for a weary traveller. I arrive early – very early for check-in purposes – at 7.30am, but the receptionist is unfazed. Smiling, she immediately checks to see if there is a room available. One can be made up quickly, but I decide to take advantage of my early start and visit the Acropolis before the heat and crowds. My luggage is stowed, I’m given a glass of water and an annotated map, and cheerfully waved on my way.

The neighbourhood

The hotel is right in the centre of the city, a few hundred metres from Syntagma Square, overlooked by the parliament building and a short walk to the Acropolis. In a few hours, I manage to navigate the cobbled streets leading up to the temple complex, admire the proportions of the Parthenon and goggle at its panoramic views, visit the excellent New Acropolis Museum (famously minus the original marbles), walk the grand promenade that sweeps behind the ancient Agora, pop into Hadrian’s Library, admire the Tower of the Winds and browse Monastiraki’s flea market. And in the afternoon? Boutiques, Plaka’s pavement restaurants and more high-quality museums. All on foot. Bliss.

The room

The New Hotel has the usual cool credentials: designer refit, organic restaurant, wafting scent in the lobby. But don’t be put off; this six-storey, 79-room hotel is charming. I eventually check into a superior room, which isn’t vast (23 square metres), but feels spacious thanks to the large, floor-to-ceiling window sliding onto a private balcony. Its design is considered with colours and textures that convey comfort: a gilded sink in the bijoux bathroom, pastel-coloured walls, bamboo flooring, white bed linen and, in my room, old photographs scattered on the wall that are worth looking at more closely. The only negative is some street traffic noise, but my sleep was undisturbed.

The service

Efficient and unobtrusive. When I call down to ask how to turn on the overhead shower (push, pull or flick?), assistance arrives in less than 10 minutes. The brass fittings are wobbly, suggesting that I’m not the first person to be caught out.

The scene

A mix of business people, families, couples and Americans in pressed casual wear.

The food

There are two restaurants serving the same Mediterranean menu. New Taste on the ground floor looks inviting, with walls lined in wood from “deconstructed” furniture and well-spaced tables, but it’s trumped by the rooftop New Art Lounge, with its views of the Acropolis. The menu is low-key: salads, quinoa, fattoush, spaghetti, risotto, chops, baked sea bass, steaks. Prices range from €14 (Dh66) for an asparagus risotto to €72 (Dh341) for a shared prime-rib steak.

Loved

The hotel boasts a small, new spa and, tired from my travels, I book a 90-minute aromatic full-body and facial massage (€120 [Dh568]). The therapist has strong, skilful hands, and the room is dimly lit and just the right temperature.

Hated

The breakfast buffet is appetising – cheeses, cold meats, eggs, freshly made breads, jams, pastries, cereal – and all as you’d expect, but spoilt for choice, I plump for a croissant and a cappuccino then a second cappuccino, only to be told that filter coffee is complimentary but extra froth is chargeable. My goodwill towards the waiter (and the hotel) evaporates.

The verdict

Any Athens hotel is hard-pressed to outshine its host city, but I warm to the New Hotel. It’s cool and polished, without being try-hard.

The bottom line

Double rooms at the New Hotel (www.yeshotels.gr; 0030 210 3273000) cost from €151 (Dh714) per night, including taxes and Wi-Fi, but not including breakfast.

Follow us @TravelNational

Follow us on Facebook for discussions, entertainment, reviews, wellness and news.