When I walked into my room at the King George Hotel in Athens, I was welcomed by name on the television and there were chocolates on the coffee table. When I walked past the doorman to leave the building, I was right on Syntagma Square looking at the Parliament Building.
The King George is a Starwood Luxury Collection hotel, with all the polish and service that implies, but is housed in a building with character that has been here since 1930. That’s nothing in Athens though, where the Temple of Olympian Zeus a few blocks away was finished in the year 132 and from the top-floor restaurant you get this view:
Yes, that’s the Parthenon atop the Acropolis, which you can gaze at while having Eggs Benedict in the morning during the upscale breakfast buffet or by candlelight at night while enjoying kakavia in the Tudor Hall restaurant. There’s also a small bar, but a better bet is to find a nearby taverna or go next door to the even fancier Hotel Grande Bretagne—also a Starwood Luxury Collection property—where there are more options.
The lobby here is a great place to sit and converse though, the attractive period furniture and chandeliers offset by interesting modern art that keeps it from looking too old-fashioned. The front desk staffers speak English fluently and are helpful with directions and advice. Impeccable housekeeping comes through the guest rooms twice a day.
Of the 102 rooms here, 39 are suites of some kind, so the developers definitely didn’t try to cram in as many rooms as possible. Each has a supremely comfortable mattress and fine linens, plus all the expected Luxury Collection amenities like electronic safes, music players, satellite TVs with English channels, and good reading lights. Alas, you’ll have to pay a hefty charge for Wi-Fi access, even though that should be as standard in the rates as hot water these days. (If you have the right SPG status you may be able to get around this fee grab.)
There are more outlets than you usually find in a historic hotel like this and though the room layouts can be quirky and the interior rooms have no view, the gorgeous interiors make up for it. In my junior suite there were glass-fronted shelves that contained curios with a sense of place. A period writing desk was topped by a brass lamp—but also a cordless phone.
The marble baths go from cramped to palatial depending on the room, but all have an array of Molton Brown or Papoutsanis toiletries, makeup mirrors, duel voltage outlets, thick towels, and robes.
If you want to enjoy that glorious Acropolis view in privacy, go all out and book the Penthouse Suite, which takes up the top floor and has more than 3,700 square feet. You’ll feel like royalty on the inside, but the real VIP touch is outside: there’s a large terrace and the hotel’s only pool, which is all yours.
Review by editor Tim Leffel, who was hosted at the King George Hotel by the city of Athens while speaking at the Travel Bloggers Exchange Europe conference (TBEX). All photos by Leffel except the penthouse pool shot, courtesy of the hotel.