reviewer anastasia miari
hotel name & website: New Hotel, Athens
who: Best bud and myself.
why: Last minute jaunt to Athens to visit friends and catch the last of the Autumn rays.
when: October 2015
stay: New Hotel is a bizarre mix of mismatched mid-century furniture and eclectic art installations. The chairs and lamps at the check-in desk are covered with shredded strips of brown and red leather: giant, melting-wax-like furniture. It’s a gaudy, brown bombardment of the senses. Apparently, Greek postgraduate students provided the ‘chair-art’ hybrids and other juxtaposed peculiarities in the public spaces. That explains it then…
Unread indie mags, boutique chocolates, a fruit bowl and water greet guests in the foyer. We get the feeling that everything here is trying too hard. It may simply be because of the lack of young people in a hotel destination clearly designed to draw a younger, design-centric crowd. New Hotel is part of Design Hotels and more recently, the reward-centric Starwood group. The location is described as a new hipster haunt, but it’s not what you would expect of a European capital. The pieces are all there, but they fail to come together well.
location: New Hotel is located just off Syntagma square in the heart of Athens. The Acropolis is a twenty-minute walk away and visible from some of the bedrooms. Trendy Monastiraki is a stroll down the road. This is perhaps the highlight of New Hotel. It may not be a hot-spot for the young and cultured Athenian crowd, but Monastiraki is. We spend our days wandering through art-strewn streets packed with Greeks drinking coffee. Even mid-week, the ‘coffee-bars’ surge with the flow of unemployed youth sipping on tiny Greek espressos poured out of bronze ‘briki’ pots.
Our nights pass quickly at the Six Dogs bar – an expansive space that spans a fairy-lit garden and basement space that hosts live music acts most nights of the week. We also dance until dawn to R&B, HipHop, dub and old-school garage at Romantiko in the run-down Amonia area of central Athens. This industrial gallery-cum bar-cum-club appears to be an old, disused car park. Again, it’s packed with the local art crowd: completely tourist free.
rooms: 79 rooms and suites, all designed to represent Greek culture. Our room is airy and spacious. We have a beautiful view across Athens and onto the Acropolis through full-length glass windows and onto our balcony. The windows’ button-operated blinds are a luxurious novelty on a hungover morning. Furniture follows the mid-century theme from downstairs. A chair that neither of us sits on extends up to the ceiling like a ladder. At New Hotel, chairs aren’t for sitting on—they’re for climbing. Another novelty.
pool/gym/beach status: There isn’t a pool but we do spend one morning burning off feta-cheese calories in the gym downstairs. Ventilation in this room comes in the form of a large fan. It leaves a lot to be desired but we don’t mind: we’re in Athens to party.
food situation (mini bar, breakfast, restaurant): We are spoiled for choice. Breakfast is an extravagant affair with a grand buffet in the main café space downstairs. We can barely choose between freshly baked pastries, home-baked bread options, yogurt, cereal, fruit, freshly made eggs (however we request them) and a whole charcuterie and cheese selection. I am overwhelmed even by the choice of spread to add to my bread. This is the beginning of a downward spiral into inevitable Greek holiday weight-gain. But for these few days, breakfast is a sweet, sweet part of the day. We sample everything, of course.
New Hotel’s Art Lounge restaurant sits on the top floor of the hotel, opening out to a sun-soaked roof terrace with a view of the Acropolis. The Greek salad here is topped with the creamiest doorstep of feta cheese I have ever tasted. The tomatoes taste like sunshine and the sea bass we opt for falls satisfyingly off the bone in lemon-infused flakes. The food at New Hotel is a delight and in comparison to most homely Greek-style cooking, dishes are presented with care and attention to detail.
bar: There’s a small bar in the dining area of the hotel but not as vibey as Monastiraki. We head out into the balmy night instead.
data (wifi?): Yes—perfect connection throughout the hotel.
vibes: A comfortable place to unwind before and after experiencing buzzing central Athens.
kiddie agreeable: Kids can stay here but may well develop nightmares from all the ‘avant-garde’ furniture.
specialty: City centre location and an inherent need to please. The wacky interior may be a bit much but staff at the New Hotel are incredibly helpful and polite. Every night of our stay we receive a boutique chocolate packaged in a neat gold box delivered to our room. What the hotel lacks in taste, it makes up for in hospitality.
price scale: Over-priced, since breakfast isn’t included.