The New Hotel, Athens

We stayed in the New Hotel for five nights around the time of the Athens Marathon, when it was also used as the base for the elite athletes. Here are a few photos and observations that we made during our stay, and at the bottom of this review is a video that’ll give you a further idea of the hotel.

The hotel is the first ever hotel project of award winning designer duo Fernando and Humberto Campana. The Brazilian brothers were commissioned for their eco-sensitive ethos and the use of contemporary handicraft practices and local ideas. The result is an intriguing 79-room establishment where every public space and every floor has been creatively renewed to include remnants of the former Olympic Palace Hotel, unusual custom-made furniture and handmade fixtures which’ll give you the feeling that you’re staying within a major art installation.

Location – The New Hotel is at Filellinon Str. 16, 200 meters from Syntagma Square and it’s transport links (the Airport train and bus both can drop you off and pick you up here). The hotel is between ten and twenty minutes walk from all of Athens’ central sites, including the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, the Agora and also the Plaka and Psiri districts with their wealth of restaurants and shops.

Check In – The reception area gives an excellent first impression. The room is part functional check in space, part lounge and, like the rest of the hotel, part art exhibition. There are quality, complimentary chocolates and drinks available here on a table by the door and the staff were always very cultured and helpful in our dealings with them, especially the head receptionist. Check in was very quick.

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You can get to the rooms by either lift or stairs.

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Our Room – Our room certainly had the ‘wow’ factor. Mirrors emphasized the already ample space and there were antique postcards surrounding the wall-mounted TV wall facing the bed that offered a window into old Athenian life.

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The window blinds were electric and the windows near-soundproof; although the hotel is situated on a main road we weren’t kept awake by any noise.

Lighting was gentle, of which the only downside, said Lamia, was that the room must have been designed by a man as there’s no perfect place, even in the bathroom, to put on your makeup, lighting wise.

Bathroom fittings were gold in colour and the complimentary shampoos and gels were of a good quality (often these comp toiletries irritate Lamia’s skin into a blotchy reaction but these were fine).

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There was a great iPod dock by the bed, Lamia could slot her iPhone in and it would charge and play music at the same time. We’d had one of these once before (a Bose one!) at a five star hotel but it didn’t work then. This one did and it added a lot to the enjoyment of our stay; we found it a comfort to have our own music playing as we unwound after a day of new and varied experiences.

The balcony was airy with two chairs, a table and a view.

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Finally, a lovely touch was that when we’d return to the room at night we’d find complimentary sweets or drinks had been left for us.

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It was the sort of room where we never felt confined or bored; not once in our five day stay did we feel anything other than happy and privileged to be staying there.

Breakfast – The reclaimed wood art that covered part of the wall in reception also featured in the breakfast room, where it decorated the pillars and some wall space beside the bar.

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The seats were comfy – some had plush velvet cushions – and the food of a very high standard. But first, a couple of small issues to mention.

Some hotels aren’t worth criticizing because they’re so far from being good that we give up before we start as it seems that nothing we can say with improve matters. This isn’t true with the New Hotel as it’s almost perfect. Almost.

There are a few issues with the breakfast staff though. They’re perfectly polite and pleasant but we feel there’s some basics that need to be addressed.

Firstly, when I walk into the restaurant, I expect to be introduced to the way things are done in this particular place.  The staff should say ‘Help yourself to the buffet’ or ‘Can I bring you tea, coffee or juice?’ or ‘Help yourself to the buffet, can I bring your eggs omelette style, fried or scrambled?’ Something like that.

But in the New Hotel they show you to a table, ask you what drinks you want and then that’s it. There’s a menu card on the table that says if you want eggs or sausage, mushroom etc you have to ask the waiter whilst on the other side there are the prices.

We were signed in as bed and breakfast and the menu card didn’t specify if these prices were only for outsiders who visited the hotel just for breakfast, or for guests too. Did our room rate include only the cold buffet, or the hot items as well? There are so many hotels doing different things nowadays there’s sometimes a need to be specific about matters. Admittedly, the New Hotel is in a slightly unusual situation in that it’s breakfast room is a very popular meeting place for local businessmen who aren’t staying at the hotel yet still, we thought that things should be easy for guests. As it was we sat there and thought, is this hot food included, and will we seem too cheap if we ask the staff about it?

Also, my orange juice wasn’t topped up when the glass was empty on several occasions. I had to ask after my glass being empty for up to ten minutes. I’m not being stuffy here, I’m very happy to top my own glass up if I’m allowed to, but the orange juice at the New Hotel is freshly squeezed and kept behind the counter so we couldn’t serve ourselves. We feel that a good waiter is going to see your glass empty and quickly ask you if you’d like it refilled, at least at a classy establishment like the New Hotel.

The LCD screen broadcasting slogans above the buffet could be interpreted in a number of ways and for me it depended on how I was feeling. At times I felt like I was in an art gallery and the whole place was part of the installation. It certainly gave us plenty to talk about over breakfast. Here are some of the slogans…

  • When you’re considered useless people won’t feed you
  • Turn soft and lovely anytime you have a chance
  • What country should you adopt if you hate poor people
  • The mind craves time
  • You are trapped on the earth so you’ll explode
  • Put food out in the same place everyday and talk to the people who come to eat and organise them
  • Hide under water or anywhere so undisturbed you feel the jerk of pleasure when an idea comes
  • Dance on down to the government and tell them that you want to rule because you know what’s good for you
  • The breakdown comes when you lose control and you want the release of bloodbath

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On the other hand, when I wasn’t in much of a mood to be taking a fun point of view of matters I just viewed the slogans as if they were in keeping with the surreal surroundings and the often hypocritical nature of today’s trendy set. The one liners talked of revolution and bloodshed and treating the world right but if there was the revolution – like the slogans seemed to talk of – and people treated the world right then nobody would be rich enough to afford to stay in hotels like the New Hotel. Unless of course there was an honest mass redistribution of wealth, or the prices of services came more in line with the everyday wages of the majority.

At such solemn times I half wanted to applaud the designers for mocking their clientele like this, it’s very Faulty Towers or ‘Eat the Rich’ (perhaps you have to witness the clientele to appreciate this thought; our fellow guests often acted very stuffy indeed), although I’d advise the designers to forget fancy slogans; if they want to get the eco/equality/revolution message into rich folk then serve them stale cake with a soundtrack of 1976 punk rock…

But of course, some might say that if any piece of art makes you think as much as this simple LCD screen did us then it’s a success. It depends on your measure of success, I guess.

The food itself was, as we’ve already mentioned, very good.

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The pastries were packed with filling (spinach and feta being my favourite)…

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…and there was a very decent fresh selection (cheese, cold meats, sundried and plain tomatoes, cucumber, olives) cereals and sliced fruit. The juice, as we’ve mentioned, was clearly fresh and tasted excellent. Here was my regular choice of main breakfast; scrambled eggs, sundried tomato and either spinach pie or haloumi cheese.

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There was also organic yogurt of varying flavours, as well as more traditional Greek yogurt served according to fat percentage.

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The styles of pastries and cakes altered daily; one of the ones we looked forward to was a mastic cake that was a little like a syrup sponge.

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Here are some more images of the breakfast room.

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Other Areas – The New Hotel has a business centre, gym and spa on the lower ground floor; the lighting here is thoughtful and effective and mirrors once again are well used to give a feeling of space.

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On the floor above the reception is a conference area made up of several rooms.

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And on the top floor there’s an art lounge where dinner can be served amidst interesting wall art and panoramic views.

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Here’s a short video that we made during our stay. It’s not meant to be a glossy promo film, more an honest look at what you might experience yourself if you stayed at the hotel.

The New Hotel really is a unique place. Part boutique, part hipster, part business (especially at breakfast), part art gallery and 100% modern Athens; it’s also very central with very spacious rooms. We liked that they thought to support the city marathon by becoming the host hotel (to us that shows a community spirit that we like to see in any city centre business) and thought the whole building a very cool venue for photographers who enjoy capturing interior design; if you’d like to discover more, please see http://www.yeshotels.gr/category/hotels/new-hotel/

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