Most American travelers will end up flying into, or through, Athens for their vacation in Greece. The Greek capital may not be as influencer-Instagrammed as the Greek islands, but Athens is a major European city with tons of history and culture, and is definitely worth a few days of your itinerary.
Flying direct from Newark, we booked a roundtrip flight to Athens. We allowed ourselves two days in Athens on the front end of our itinerary to see the sites, and another day on the back-end after our Greek island visits to serve as a buffer just in case our flight back from the islands was delayed. (I HIGHLY recommend this approach, especially in the current season of constantly delayed flights. Our flight from Crete to Athens was delayed by several hours, so if we had planned to travel from Athens back home in the same day, we would have missed our flight.) Because we had two different “stays” in Athens, we opted for two different experiences with two different incredible hotels.
Central Athens: Villa Brown Ermou
After our original hotel accidentally cancelled our reservation and was then sold out, we scrambled to find a back up hotel two weeks before departure in peak tourist season. Luckily there was one room left at one of the hotels our original hotel recommended: the new Villa Brown Ermou Hotel. The hotel is centrally located with tasteful design and the higher end amenities we were looking for, including a cute lobby bar and bistro-style breakfast. I almost wrote this hotel off since it’s only 3.5 stars but I imagine the rating (and price) will increase with time, since it definitely has the feel of a luxury hotel (with half the price tag). The hotel opened in early 2022, part of the Israeli-based Brown hotels collection, and is one of the first of their hotels in Athens, with several more being opened in the coming years.
The hotel is decorated in a very chic mid-mod style, giving off modern Parisian vibes. Our room was small, but that’s expected in any center-city European hotel. The balcony was an added bonus, and was perfect for sipping the complimentary Prosecco given at check-in. The lobby bar is great for a pre-dinner (or after dinner) cocktail and the dining area in the back is a sunny place to start the day with breakfast. Our rate included breakfast, and it did not disappoint. A three tier tray of baked goods, fruits, and cheese was brought out when we sat down. It was so filling we almost didn’t order our eggs Benedict with prosciutto, but I’m glad we did because it was equally delicious.
The staff are all friendly and accommodating, and helpful with any suggestions you could need. My only criticism was the rooftop, which is sort of falsely advertised in pictures as a bar, when it really is just a roof deck with some lounge chairs. But if you BYO it could certainly be turned into a nice place for a nightcap.
Coastal hotel: The Margi
Like many international travelers, we had to fly in and out of Athens which meant returning to the city at the end of our trip after visiting the islands. I didn’t want to risk having a delayed flight back to Athens and then miss our departure, so opted for another night in Athens on the back end of our trip. For this reason it made sense for us to stay in a different area a bit farther from the downtown that we already explored.
The Margi is a hotel in the region of Vouliagmeni and is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels collection, a group of independent hotels that describe their members as “anti-chain and anti-same.” This is one of my go-to collections when looking for authentic boutique hotels. The Margi is probably one of the bigger “small luxury hotels” with 89 rooms, but it has the comfort of a local hotel but with luxury service.
The decor was simplistic and modern, with a touch of Provencal style, especially around the gorgeous L shaped pool which was lined with Olive trees. We were surprised by the number of families with kids staying at this hotel, but I suppose the pool was a great selling point for anyone with little ones. The room itself was comfortable and pretty spacious compared to central Athens hotels, and had a small courtyard attached.
The location is a few minutes walk from one of Athens beaches, and although not quite as picturesque as the islands, its a nice alternative for anyone looking for some sea views from the city. There are a few restaurants in walking distance from any direction, but the hotel’s restaurants also come highly rated. Our breakfast was included in our stay and featured a buffet of assorted yogurts, fruits, and pastries, and made to order eggs. (The Croque Madame was incredible.)
Overall, The Margi is a unique alternative to the city hotels in the heart of Athens. If you’ve already seen the Acropolis or just want to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and relax, this is an amazing option.