Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens, Greece Review
By Greek standards (the Parthenon and other main buildings on the Acropolis were built by Pericles in the fifth century B.C.E.), the Grande Bretagne is a relatively newcomer. Built in the 1840s, its unique architecture makes it a local landmark. The hotel’s central location is just about perfect. It’s opposite the Parliament Building, overlooks Syntagma (Constitution) Square, and is within walking distance of shopping areas, restaurants, museums, and the business district.
Despite its age, or lack thereof, the Grande Bretagne nonetheless has played a role in history. Every visiting head of state has stayed here over the past century, just as Winston Churchill did in late 1944. In Churchill’s case, however, a plot to blow up the hotel from the sewers was foiled during his stay.
Some rooms offer uninterrupted views of the Acropolis and the 1896 Olympic Stadium although mine was not one of them (it was easy enough to go to the rooftop bar and restaurant and enjoy the views, I should add).
A two-year, $70-million pre-Olympic renovation restored the Grande Bretagne to its former glory. Priceless antique furnishings and tapestries, not to mention modern amenities such as Internet access (more on that later) and DVD players, await guests in the twenty-first century. My room was very comfortable and quiet.
ROAD WARRIOR SUPPORT
Internet access (€20 for 24 hours) was slow and reasonably reliable but telephone service in the hotel (I was speaking at an online conference from my hotel room and had to use a landline) was dodgy at times. Nonetheless, I made it through my part of the event without any problems.
The rooftop restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The views are worth the price of a meal, which isn’t insignificant (the breakfast buffet is €35 and a “combo” orange juice, coffee, and rolls/pastries is €20; dinner for two, not including wine or drinks, can easily run €160).
The location and sumptuous accommodations, combined with a high level of service on the part of all staff members, means that you are unlikely to be disappointed.
Hotel Grande Bretagne, Constitution Square · Athens 10564 ∙ Greece · Phone: +30 210 3330000
–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.