Tel Aviv-born Brown Hotels has been on an expansion tear the likes of which are rarely seen in the hospitality sector: from its founding in 2010, it now boasts 20 boutique hotels in Israel, and nine in other Mediterranean countries. One of its newest properties is Lighthouse Athens, which stands as an impressive nighttime beacon over strategically located Omonia Square, whose recently illuminated dancing fountain is a sight to see in itself from the hotel’s balconies after the sun goes down.
Lighthouse Athens joins a growing family of Brown properties in the Greek capital, becoming the eighth in the country as a whole, with the recent opening of a resort on the Gulf of Corinth. The latter represents another innovation for the primarily urban hotel chain, following the success enjoyed by its pioneering beach property on the Adriatic riviera of Croatia.
Back in the heart of Athens, meanwhile, Lighthouse is a signature Brown creation, from its bold, vibrant decor to the brilliant design of the intimate guest rooms, which manage to encompass everything you need in a space that otherwise would seem confining. In fact, two of the three categories of rooms – Urban, Classis and Cozy – even open out to small balconies, from which guests enjoy stunning views of the mesmerizing, brightly lit cavorting fountain.
The compact rooms contain all the amenities, from user-friendly climate control and the nook that doubles as a work station and refreshment corner – complete with espresso machine and mini-refrigerator – to the personal safe and flat screen high-definition TV with multiple international channels. Naturally, free high-speed Wi-Fi reaches all guest rooms, as well as the public areas of the hotel.
The stylish green marble bathrooms are designed with the same attention to detail as the guest space as a whole, with a walk-in shower boasting both raindrop shower head and full-strength handheld shower wand. The pampering toiletries are the chain’s proprietary BrownSpa branch, while terrycloth bathrobes and disposable slippers are provided in the ample closet.
Interestingly, one need not be inside the room to enjoy a refreshing shower. There are dual outdoor showers – amid green plants – in the area of the spa and fitness room compound, and another single outdoor shower adjacent to one of the hotel’s main attractions: the rooftop pool with a clear view of the iconic Acropolis, and the even closer majestic Lycabettus Hill. Like many of Athens’ hotel rooftop pools, it is not exactly meant for exercise (although it is possible to swim short laps), but rather serves primarily as a large communal plunge pool, for cooling off under the summer sun.
Around the pool are plenty of chaises longues for relaxing while sipping a drink from the rooftop bar, which is open day and night, and a popular place from which to observe the Acropolis when it is bathed in light after dark. More alcoholic libation is served in the hotel’s in-house club, where a party atmosphere reigns until the wee hours of the morning.
Indeed, the drinking need never stop, even at the daily breakfast buffet, which is served all morning long and rates the highest marks not only for its lavish spread of hot and cold food but also for the bar where you can mix Bloody Marys and mimosas. The enjoyment is enhanced by the fact that absolutely everything is complimentary.
Of course, one does not travel to Athens to lounge around and splash in a pool, or eat and drink inside a hotel, no matter how inviting. And Lighthouse is ideally situated for sightseeing – not only is it in walking distance to most of the important sites and areas of town, but I have never seen a hotel in such close proximity to public transport: the Metro entrance is literally at the property’s doorstep, whence the subway will whisk you everywhere in the metropolitan area, including the airport and Piraeus (the harbor for ferry service to the Greek islands).
Number of rooms: 220, 142 with balconies, 71 with views of Omonia Square
Text and photos by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of Lighthouse Athens for purposes of review. Additional photos courtesy of Brown Hotels.