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The Art Gallery Hotel, Athens, Greece

We stayed at The Art Gallery Hotel for 4 nights whilst in Athens for the Athens Classic Marathon. Before we go into details, here’s a short film that I made on arriving at the hotel. It’s not meant to be a glossy film showing the accomodation at it’s best, just an honest first impression on what the average visitor might encounter on arrival.

Location - The Art Gallery Hotel is at 5 Erecthiou Street, a quiet residential street lined with orange trees. It’s a 5 minute walk from the Syngrou Metro Station, a 15 minute walk to The Temple of Zeus and a 20 minute walk to the entrance to the Acropolis site, and very nearby are lots of restaurants and bars that cater mostly for locals. Here’s a location map – http://www.artgalleryhotel.gr/site/location.php

The Plaka, Athens’ old town, is all around, although it’s main (noisier and more touristy) centre is around the other side of the Acropolis hill, a pleasant 25 minute walk away through narrow streets. The new Acropolis Museum, which houses sculptures from the Parthenon and is well worth a visit, is very near to the hotel, the entrance is 10 mins walk away. And most importantly, if you are in town for the marathon race, the hotel is well place for attending the Athens Marathon expo (which is a 20 minute walk away in the National Gardens) and the race itself (buses to the start leave from Syntagma Square, a 20 minute walk away, and the finish line is also 25 minute walk from the hotel).

The hills to the west of the Acropolis are an easy 25 minutes walk from the hotel. They offer great views of the ruins/sunset. And the Theatre of Herod Atticus is visible at the top of the street, a 5 minute walk away. you need a supermarket, the Spar is just around the corner on Parthenonos Street. The bus stop to Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon is a 5 minute walk from the hotel, next to the Syngrou Metro Station. It’s worth making the trip, the sunsets there are incredible.

Check In/Reception - Check in is after 2pm; the receptionist (one of the owners, this is a family run hotel) had my resevation to hand and I was checked in within 5 minutes. The owners/staff speak perfect English (and French, I learnt that as they dealt with the guests before me). The reception area is a nice introduction to the style of the hotel; there are several pieces of art on the walls, all painted by the owners auntie, Dora Bouki, who lived and worked in the building for many years. One of the hotel’s cats was also there as I checked in; a ginger, friendly beauty.

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The Room - My room was fitted out with 2 single beds, a TV with 16 satellite channels (including BBC world service), air condition, a wooden chair and desk, a fridge, ambient low level lighting, wooden floorboards and ample wardrobe and luggage storage space. There was also a good signal for the Wi Fi, which was free in the room and quite fast.

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The bed was firm, comfortable and gave me a pleasant nights sleep (and was made up every day whilst I was out sightseeing) and above it was another one of Dora Bouki’s excellent seascape paintings.

There was very little noise in the room; the hotel is in a residential area so doesn’t get much passing traffic. The most common sound I heard was during the late afternoon and early evening when the 2 hotel cats would be most active and their bells would tinkle as they ran, meowing, between floors.

The bathroom was clean and provided with towels and a good standard of toiletries. The hot water came through immediately and the shower had good pressure. The cold water out of the tap was fresh and good to drink.

There was a small balcony, shaded by a vine, that looked out onto the street.

Everything was as I would have wanted it. The room didn’t feel overly modern, it had the great character that older rooms develop, yet everything that I needed to work well, did so. Apart from the TV, which was bit snowy, but then again, I didn’t mind that, I was out most of the time.

The Restaurants - A buffet style breakfast was included in the room rate and was available from 8 until 10am every day. The food was very traditionally Greek, with a choice of cereals, cheeses, cold meats, olives, boiled eggs, fresh fruit, yoghurt, jams and breads/cookies.

I would imagine that the food had all been brought at local shops as it had taste, real taste, not the sort of bland food you so often find at hotel buffets nowadays. Bascially, in line with the homely feel of the hotel, this was a breakfast that you could expect to eat if you visited a Greek friend who cared for the quality of their food (and for you!).

The yoghurt was exceptionally creamy; I enjoyed it spooned over peaches and chunky cereal flakes, drizzled with local honey and then sprinkled with walnut pieces.

The feta cheese was also excellent, really tasty, and the cucumber and tomato were as fresh as they come. They went well with the juicy olives and the local crusty, rustic bread.

Overall, I was very happy with the breakfast at the Art Gallery Hotel. It’s very local in character, very tasty and very fresh. The environment was lovely too (see the room description below) and the staff always ready to chat.

The food never ran out, even at peak time (about 8.15 seemed to be busiest) or later, if I arrived after 9am.

The Lounge - On the 4th Floor is the lounge, and bar. It’s tastefully decorated. Walking in there is like walking into the home of a cultured, well off relative. On my first visit I looked around and thought, yes, this is classy, creative and understated, just how I like it.

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This is where you have breakfast, but you can also relax there at other times of the day, looking at the view of the Acropolis.

It’s a fine place to chill out and read, or catch the breeze on hot evenings. There’s not a lot of street noise and the rattan seats on the veranda are very comfy. At night, when the bar opens between 8 and midnight, the lighting is soft and the rooms develop a delicate beauty.

In Summary - The Art Gallery Hotel has a good location for both general sightseeing and for attending the Athens Marathon expo (which is a 15 minute walk away in the National Gardens) and the race itself (buses to the start leave from Syntagma Square, a 20 minute walk away, and the finish line is also 20 minute walk from the hotel).

If you want to do any training runs before the marathon race, there is a nice route that starts at the hotel and loops around the National Gardens, Zappaion Exhibition Hall, Panathenaic Stadium and Temple of Zeus.

The owners/staff are very friendly and helpful, my room was tastefully decorated and very comfortable and the breakfast offered high quality local food. Add to this mix the lovely resident cats and you have a hotel with a very homely atmosphere.

I totally enjoyed my stay here, so I’d say that the Art Gallery Hotel is Very Highly Recommended.

For more information on the Art Gallery Hotel, please email artgalleryhotel@gmail.com or click www.artgalleryhotel.gr

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