46 Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, Athens, Greece, 115 28
- Recommended for:
- Business travellers, Families with younger children, Foodies, Sporty types, Travellers with pets, Nightlife, Sightseeing
Expert review of Hilton Athens
This Athenian landmark is a local institution. It caused a splash when it opened in 1963, with an abstract mural by Greek artist Yannis Moralis etched into the white façade. When I was a teenager, I’d look forward to Saturday afternoons eating club sandwiches by the Hilton pool, oggling TV presenters in their swimsuits and ministers lunching at Byzantino restaurant. These days, movers and shakers congregate at Milos, one of the city’s best fish restaurants, and the rooftop Galaxy bar, which reopened in November 2010 after a futuristic makeover.
On first impressions, the location at the junction of two busy thoroughfares is unpromising. But there’s a Metro station (with a direct link to Athens airport) and a little park across the road. Plus it’s a short walk to the Cycladic, Byzantine, and Benaki folk art museums along Vassilisis Sofias Avenue.
Updated in 2003 in time for the Athens Olympics, bedrooms have an understated elegance. High-quality finishing (wooden floors, mood lighting, ergonomic chairs) is better than you’d expect from a big chain hotel. Most rooms have plenty of natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. There’s a mind-boggling array of different room categories, including six different types of suite. Executive rooms have complimentary breakfast, snacks and refreshments throughout the day, and free access to the Hiltonia Spa. Bedrooms on higher floors are quieter and have better views – especially at night. Don’t bother with balconies, since they overlook a main road, or Acropolis views, since you’re a fair distance away from the temple.
Sparsely decorated and with soaring ceilings, the marble lobby is impressive, if a little soulless. There’s a cosier corner with a few sofas and a coffee bar beside the Byzantino restaurant.
After raising the bar for other Greek restaurants in Montreal and New York, Costas Spiliadis opened an outpost of Milos restaurant at the Hilton in 2004. The elegant all-white space with its secluded veranda is still one of my favourite spots to ea: simply but beautifully cooked fish and lightly battered courgettes dunked in tzatziki. The late-night parties at Galaxy bar are geared more towards locals than residents and the view comes with sky-high prices. The cocktails – named after planets – are fabulous. My favourites are the Pluto (whisky, camomile and honey) and Jupiter (gin, cucumber and mint).
The 25-metre outdoor pool, surrounded by palm trees and nautical stripe sun loungers, is an oasis in high summer. The Hiltonia spa is one of the largest in central Athens, with all sorts of healing treatments from Ayurvedic treatments to Taoist face massage. The fitness centre is equally impressive, with everything from Powerplates to Pilates. There are lots of child-friendly facilities, from babysitting services to a kids’ menu.
Hit and miss - can be slow and a little curt.
Mainly travelling executives, tour groups, and families, plus the occasional head of state (Angela Merkel) or movie star (Pierce Brosnan). At weekends, it's a funkier city-break crowd.
Look out for special offers at weekends, including cultural packages with free entrance to three museums. Save up to 20 percent when you book at least 21 days in advance.
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- 46 Vassilissis Sofias Avenue, Athens, Greece, 115 28
- Free tags / Keywords:
- pet friendly, business, pool, gourmet, Kids
- Business Centre, Fitness Centre, High-Speed Internet, Parking, Pets Allowed, Restaurant, Room Service, Swimming Pool